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NEWS: Opposition forms against nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron

Lake Huron

Lake Huron

The Toronto Star reports, “A joint panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission will likely hold hearings on the plan (for a storage site for low- and mid-level radioactive waste near Kincardine, on the eastern shores of Lake Huron) next year. In an environmental impact statement filed earlier this month, Ontario Power Generation says its proposal is a safe one. The limestone in which the waste will be stored has very low permeability by water, as does a layer of shale above the limestone. The rock, it says, will prevent radioactivity from migrating upwards into the groundwater — or into the waters of Lake Huron.” The Globe and Mail adds in their report on this, “OPG submitted 12,500 pages of documents to support its claim that the Deep Geologic Repository ‘will not likely result in any significant adverse environmental or public health effects’.”

The Star article notes, “The town of Kincardine, next door to the nuclear site, supports the proposal, on condition that it will not be used for high-level waste such as spent fuel. Kincardine council gave its blessing to the proposal six years ago and still does, says deputy mayor Anne Eadie.” But opposition to the plan is already evident:

A local farmer. The Toronto Star reports, “Eugene Bourgeois, a sheep farmer who is a close neighbour to the Bruce site, is less trusting (than Kincardine deputy mayor Anne Eadie). Bourgeois, who has crossed swords with the nuclear plant many times in the past, wonders tongue in cheek why, if the site is so safe, it’s not going to store high-level waste.”

Water Quality Boards in Michigan. The Star also notes, “‘What fool would put nuclear waste under the Great Lakes?’ demands Doug Martz, who chairs the Water Quality Board in Macomb County, Mich., one of the municipalities that makes up the Detroit metropolitan area.” The Detroit News has reported, “In 2008, when the Nuclear Waste Management Organization recommended a deep geologic repository for handling nuclear waste, several communities in eastern Michigan responded. Macomb County’s Board of Commissioners, Harrison Township’s Board of Trustees, St. Clair Shores’ City Council and St. Clair County’s Water Quality Board all adopted resolutions opposing the repository and called for a ban on all nuclear repositories within the Great Lakes Basin.”

Greenpeace Canada. The Globe and Mail reports, “Greenpeace Canada says ‘OPG is trying to bury it’s biggest public relations problem: radioactive waste.'”

The Ontario NDP. The Canadian Press notes, “OPG wants to build the storage facilities about one kilometre inland from Lake Huron near Kincardine, on the site of the existing Bruce nuclear plant. That is too close to the Great Lakes for the New Democrats, who pointed to Japan’s current nuclear crisis as proof that scientists are limited in their ability to predict what’s going to go wrong. ‘There are a bunch of Japanese engineers who never expected a wave big enough to come in and knock out their backup electricity for a nuclear plant,’ said NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns. ‘All of this is really conjecture on the part of those putting together these waste holding areas, and if they go wrong right beside the lake, the consequences are very high.'”

Great Lakes United. Last week, the Detroit News reported, “The repository would be one mile from the waters of Lake Huron, and that’s too close for comfort for some. …John Jackson of Great Lakes United says, ‘We think it’s a mistake to site anything that close to the Great Lakes that has the potential to leak and eventually reach the water. This is stuff that lasts forever basically. And to think we could ever hope to contain something forever is just not feasible.’”

Beyond Nuclear. The Detroit News also noted, “Kevin Kamps, of U.S.-based Beyond Nuclear, said the leakage of intermediate-level waste into Lake Huron could seriously impact aquatic life and possibly contaminate drinking water supplies.”

Northwatch Coalition. And the Detroit News reported, “Brennain Lloyd, a member of the Northwatch coalition of environmental and citizen groups in Canada, says, ‘I would bet as much money as I can put together that once they have the repository approved, they’ll no longer be saying it’s just low- and mid-level waste. They’ll be saying, ‘We’re already approved for an underground waste facility, so… The line between low- and mid-level and high-level waste will be erased.’”

The Council of Canadians. We reject nuclear power because it poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment. Council of Canadians staff and chapters are currently campaigning against the proposed shipments of nuclear waste from the Bruce Power nuclear plant on the Great Lakes, the disposal of nuclear waste in Saskatchewan (which the premier of Saskatchewan has recently stated is unlikely to happen because of public opinion) and the building of two new nuclear reactors on the north shore of Lake Ontario east of Toronto. Chairperson Maude Barlow recently signed an international statement advocating that the “human community…should phase out, abolish and replace (nuclear) technologies with alternatives that do not threaten present and future generations. This applies to nuclear weapons as well as to nuclear power reactors.”