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NEWS: ‘Storing nuclear waste next to the Great Lakes is irresponsible’, says US Senator

Zion Nuclear Power Station

Zion Nuclear Power Station

WLS-TV reports that “the Zion nuclear power plant” on the shores of Lake Michigan in Illinois is being “shut down” and “slowly dismantled. More than 1,000 tons of radioactive waste will be stored on a 10-acre lot (in a dry storage facility).” This radioactive waste was to go to Nevada, where a deep geological repository storage facility was being built within the Yucca Mountain about 130 kilometres northwest of Las Vegas. It was a very unpopular project with the people of Nevada. Funding was terminated for this project in the 2011 federal budget passed by Congress on April 14.

US Senator Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois) says, “In the long run, I hope that the fuel leaves the shoreline of Lake Michigan because storing nuclear fuel long-term next to the Great Lakes, a source of 95 percent of the freshwater of the United States, is irresponsible.”

State Senator Susan Schmidt (Republican) says, “I would just love this area to go back to the way it was, and to have the availability here for the public to once again enjoy that shoreline.”

The Chicago Sun-Times comments, “Why all this concern about nuclear waste in Zion? Didn’t we spend millions upon millions of our tax dollars to build a waste site in Nevada? Oh wait, after using our dollars to generate vote-winning jobs in Nevada, (Democratic Illinois State Senator) Susan Garrett’s fellow Democrat, (US Senator) Harry Reid, decided he didn’t want the waste in his state. Maybe he will give us a refund. Anyway, it will be a good question for Garrett if she holds another forum.”

In Ontario, an underground nuclear waste storage facility – 1,640 feet below the ground and less than 2 kilometres from the shore of Lake Huron – is being considered with a construction start date of 2013. It has been reported in US media that, “Canada’s Environmental Assessment Agency will not assess the merits of the project, leaving that task to an independently appointed three-member panel.” For more about the concerns this is raising about the Great Lakes, go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7568.

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 has 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.”

The WLS-TV news report is at http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8090578.