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US Congresswoman asks Trudeau government to reject nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron

Candice S. Miller represents Michigan’s 10th congressional district in the US House of Representatives.

Candice S. MillerIn a recent column, she highlighted, “We must also continue to keep pressure on the Canadian Minister of the Environment to disapprove Ontario Power Generation’s proposed plan to build a deep geological repository for nuclear waste off the shore of Lake Huron – a decision that has been delayed until March 1. Millions of people’s social and economic livelihoods are dependent on the Great Lakes, which account for 20 percent of the globe’s fresh water supply. Placing a deep geological repository for nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron puts the Great Lakes in unnecessary danger. That is why I have repeatedly called on the State Department to engage the International Joint Commission to ensure we can stop the proposed project.”

Congresswoman Miller isn’t the only US politician speaking against the nuclear waste dump. The Detroit News has reported, “[In November 2015], a dozen members of Michigan’s congressional delegation wrote to [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau, urging the new prime minister to deny the construction permits necessary for the storage facility to be built.”

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

A federal panel approved the nuclear waste dump in May 2015. They reportedly accepted testimony that Lake Huron would be large enough to dilute radioactive pollution should a leak from the repository occur.

The former Conservative government decided to postpone its decision until after the Oct. 19 federal election. A decision was then expected in December, but on Nov. 28, the Detroit News reported, “The Canadian government will delay its decision on whether to move forward with a controversial nuclear waste storage facility that would be sited near the shore of Lake Huron. On Friday [Nov. 27], the Minister of Environment and Climate Change [Catherine McKenna] announced it will issue a decision on the deep geologic repository project March 1, 2016.”

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. 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”, they have not yet clearly indicated they will reject the nuclear waste facility on these grounds.

If the Trudeau government approves the controversial project on March 1, 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 Canada, the United States and First Nations.

To express your opposition to the nuclear waste dump, please e-mail the minister responsible at Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca.

Photo: Congresswoman Candice S. Miller.