News / Windsor

Opposition mounts to nuclear waste storage near Lake Huron

A proposal to bury nuclear waste below ground in Kincardine, Ont. is drawing criticism from Michigan politicians.

Last week, Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood released a YouTube video urging his constituents to oppose the plan. Hopgood — who has raised the issue a number of times in the state senate — questioned why the site is located so close to Lake Huron.

"If this radioactive material leaks, the drinking water for 40 million people could be contaminated," he said.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7RUIT41Wh8&w=618&h=408]

Hopgood encouraged residents to sign an online petition at the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump website.

The plan has been in the works since 2001, and involves storing waste materials in the bedrock below the Bruce nuclear plant in Kincardine. The facility would be located 680 metres below ground and approximately 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron.

Ontario Power Generation spokesperson Neal Kelly said the proposal has "overwhelming support" in the community and has been subjected to "objective, science-based analysis," including a 12,500-page environmental assessment.

"The conclusion was that the deep geologic repository would not result in any significant environmental or public health effects," he said.

Kelly said concerns about water contamination were unwarranted because the site is located so far beneath Lake Huron's water table.

A final round of public hearings on the plan will be held in Kincardine and Port Elgin starting Sept. 16. If the project is approved, Kelly expects it to be operational sometime after 2020.

According to OPG, the facility will only house only "low to intermediate" nuclear waste, ranging from mops and coveralls used by workers to reactor components and resins. Kelly declined to say how long such material remains toxic, but said the proposed facility could safely store it "indefinitely."

The federal Nuclear Waste Management Organization looking at options for storing Ontario's high-level nuclear waste, including used fuel bundles. Such material is currently housed on-site at nuclear plants in Bruce, Darlington and Pickering.

"Our proposed deep geologic repository will not hold high-level waste," Kelly said.

For more information, visit Ontario Power Generation's dedicated DGR website.

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