Rep. Kildee: Canada shouldn’t store nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - The Canadian government could be looking to store nuclear waste in the Great Lakes area, a plan that is opposed by Congressman Dan Kildee.

Rep. Kildee joined others at a press conference along the Saginaw River today, opposing the plan by the Nuclear Management Organization.

It’s a group of power companies that want to develop a nuclear waste storage site again in the Great Lakes Basin. The new facility would bury 128 million pounds of highly radioactive waste, move Kildee says hurts the Great Lakes even more.

“The new facility would permanently bury high level nuclear waste in the great lakes basin. and it’s notable when they were defending against the decision to place waste, one of the arguments was that it’s low level waste and they should not be so concerned. in this case, they’re planning high level waste that would be dangerous for 10 thousand years,” said Kildee.

A new bipartisan congressional resolution asks the Biden administration to work with the Canadian government to ensure that nuclear waste is not stored in the Great Lakes basin.

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization issued the following statement Friday about the proposal to store nuclear waste underground near South Bruce:

“The NMWO learned yesterday that Representative Dan Kildee had introduced a bipartisan resolution opposing a proposed deep geological repository in South Bruce. We have reached out to the Congressman directly, to offer him a briefing on our work to ensure he is informed fully on the project. It’s disappointing he would propose a resolution like this without ever reaching out for information. In Canada, communities have been taking the time to fully understand these projects before making decisions. We would encourage lawmakers to do the same.

The entire purpose of Canada’s plan – the reason we are investing time, effort and money to implement it -- is to protect people and the environment, including the Great Lakes. The used fuel will be moved from the surface, further from the lake than where it is now, & placed within a system of barriers to ensure passive safety for generations.

Two potential siting areas – both landlocked and miles away from any Great Lakes – are being considered for the placement of the deep geological repository, one in northern Ontario and the one in southern Ontario that Representative Kildee noted. The project can only go ahead if it can be demonstrated as safe for people and the environment, including the lakes. It also requires an informed and willing host, and resilient partnerships with municipal, First Nation and Metis communities. The only areas being considered are those where a community expressed interest in exploring the project and their potential for hosting it.

Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel is consistent with best practice around the world. While all of this material is safely managed today, it’s widely recognized that the interim storage methods we use now are not appropriate for the many thousands of years it remains hazardous. There is global scientific consensus that deep geological repositories are the safest way to protect people and the environment, including precious water resources. This approach is supported by groups like the European Commission, the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which includes Canada and the US among its 171 member states.

Canada has a strong independent regulator for all nuclear facilities. No nuclear project can proceed unless demonstrated safe. The preferred site for the deep geological repository will be subject to an extensive environmental assessment review and licensing process by the federal government.

It’s worth noting that the US has dozens of high-level nuclear waste storage sites along the Great Lakes and has had them for many years. In Canada we are doing the responsible thing by implementing plans to place used nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository which, scientists from around the world agree, would permanently protect people and the environment including the lakes.”

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