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Trudeau government delays its decision on nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron


The Council of Canadians has been calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject a plan to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste near Lake Huron.

Late today, the federal government announced that it is delaying its decision past its own March 1 deadline.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has dealt a setback to Ontario Power Generation’s plan for a nuclear waste burial site on the shores of Lake Huron. In a letter to the provincially-owned utility Thursday, Ms. McKenna delayed a decision on whether to approve its proposed deep repository for low– and medium-level radioactive waste. Instead, she told OPG to submit additional studies, including assessments on possible alternatives to the currently proposed site at the Bruce nuclear station in Kincardine, Ont., and on the cumulative impacts of siting other nuclear waste facilities in the region.”

“Beverly Fernandez, founder of the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump group, said the government should have simply killed the proposal rather than delay a decision. ‘No matter what process is followed, burying and abandoning radioactive nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin will always be a bad idea’, Ms. Fernandez said. ‘The Trudeau government’s environmental credibility is on the line.'”

The proposed waste site would be located on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. They have not given their free, prior and informed consent to the project. And while the Liberal platform this past election promised “the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, to “renew our commitment to protect the Great Lakes” and asserted that “government should base its policies on facts, not make up facts to suit a preferred policy”, it’s unfortunately not clear yet that McKenna will reject the nuclear waste dump based on those principles.

Today’s news report adds, “The additional work will take several months to complete.” A Government of Canada notice this afternoon further specifies, “Ontario Power Generation has been asked to provide the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, by April 18, 2016, with a schedule for fulfilling the information request. The Minister will contact the Panel, at a future date, regarding its role in the review of the additional information and studies.”

If the Trudeau government approves the controversial project, nuclear waste that is considered hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years would be stored just hundreds of metres from the Great Lakes, the source of drinking water for about 40 million people in two countries.

To send a letter to the environment minister calling on her to “reject Ontario Power Generation’s application to build a deep geologic repository (DGR) for low and intermediate level radioactive waste next to Lake Huron”, please go to our “No nuclear waste near the Great Lakes’ shores” action alert here.

Further reading
McKenna to decide on nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron on March 1, 2016 (Nov. 28, 2015)
US Congresswoman asks Trudeau government to reject nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron (Jan. 7, 2016)