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NEWS: Radioactive waste dump planned on shores of Lake Huron

Lake Huron

Lake Huron

The Detroit News reports, “Canadian energy companies are considering a proposal that would place an underground nuclear waste storage facility near the shore of Lake Huron – a move that is causing growing concern among U.S. conservationists. (The Bruce Power) nuclear plant located between Kincardine and Saugeen Shores, Ontario. That’s roughly 55 miles across the water from Port Hope in Huron County. Ontario Power and other Canadian industry officials under the Nuclear Waste Management Organization are eyeing the site as a possible permanent home for Canada’s low- to mid-level nuclear waste.”

“To store these wastes, the nuclear group has proposed the construction of a deep geologic repository — a holding chamber 1,640 feet below the ground. …Industry officials are several years into their research and promotion of the repository project but still face at least one more year in the approval process. On Thursday, the nuclear group released its 12,000-page environmental impact study for the repository plan, which kicks off a six-month review process. That study projects breaking ground on the repository as early as 2013 with the facility receiving waste five years later. …Canada’s Environmental Assessment Agency will not assess the merits of the project, leaving that task to an independently appointed three-member panel.”

“But 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.’ …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. …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.'”

“In the case of the deep geologic repository (Canadians) won’t need U.S. permission. With the entire project located on Canadian soil, there is little US environmental groups can do if they choose to oppose it. Issues that arise between the two nations are typically handled by the International Joint Commission, but so far the panel composed of three U.S. representatives and three Canadian representatives has not weighed in on the repository project. …That does not mean that elected officials haven’t jumped in. 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.”

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reported last week, “The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is eyeing Saskatchewan as a potential site for underground storage of nuclear waste (two million spent but highly-radioactive bundles), although a decision is likely a decade away. Three northern communities have expressed interest as a possible host.” The Toronto Star reported in late-February that, “The NWMO says seven communities across the country have formally expressed interest in hosting the underground repository: Creighton, English River First Nation and Pinehouse in Saskatchewan, and Ear Falls, Ignace, Schreiber and Hornepayne in Ontario.”

The Council of Canadians rejects 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.”