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 ****The DGR Proposal is currently on hold, pending submission of further information to the Canadian Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna. It should be noted that this deal is still on the table, so this pause gives the public a wonderful additional opportunity to submit their comments and concerns to Minister McKenna, as well as your federal legislators and/or the White House. Please check back with us to stay updated on the status of this project ****

 

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plans to bury and then abandon, potentially 14,125,866 cubic feet of "low" and "intermediate" radioactive reactor wast at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station - the world's largest nuclear facility. This facility is surrounded on 3 sides by Lake Huron.

The entrance to this proposed deep geological repository (DGR - or "underground dump") would be less than a mile from Lake Huron. The Great Lakes are the largest surface reservoir of surface fresh water in North America, representing 90% of the continent's fresh water supply and provide crucial drinking water to 40 million people in 8 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces. In addition to drinking water, men and women in all over the Great Lakes Basin, rely on these waters for fisheries, recreation, agriculture, and tourism. Indigenous peoples throughout the Great Lakes Region consider them sacred. These international fresh waters are irreplaceable, so any action that may impact them cannot be considered too carefully.

Some wastes which are planned to be stored indefinitely in these underground caverns may continue to emit radiation for hundreds of thousands to millions of years. This is extremely important to consider, when one realizes that the Great Lakes themselves are only thought to be 10,000 to 12,000 years old. We simply do not know what may happen in the future and compromise the structural integrity of the DGR. A mere 10,000-12,000 years ago, the Great Lakes Basin was covered in glaciers which carved deep into the existing bedrock to create the Great Lakes. Who knows what geological stressors the bedrock of the DGR may face over the next million years! Citizens, community groups, and a great many other organizations are banding together to prevent these magnificent fresh waters from becoming a nuclear sacrifice zone if the DGR holding systems failed.

Even low doses of radiation can cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems. If wastes leak, they can contaminate our water, air, soil, and food chain. Many radioactive bio-magnify (bio-accumulate) in the food chain. This means that while a mussel may itself harbor a harmful dose of radioactive contamination, the bird that eats many mussels will have significantly more, as will the animal then may eat several birds, ultimately taking all of the harmful radioactivity that contaminated its food into itself.

 

Definitions

Low level radioactive waste -  includes items contaminated during routine maintenance at nuclear plants such as rags or mops used for cleaning

Intermediate level radioactive waste - contaminated filters and resins as well as irradiated reactor components - up to but not including spent nuclear fuel rods

High level radioactive waste - Spent fuel rods

 Key Issues

         *  The concept of burying nuclear waste in limestone caverns is unproven and without precedent anywhere in the world.

         *  The ability of water-soluble limestone & shale bedrock to block or slow migration of radionuclides into the environment is completely unknown.

         *  OPG's outreach was minimal or non-existent to most of Michigan and other downstream Great Lakes communities that could be impacted by this        proposal. In fact, Michigan was not considered part of the impact area, despite sharing Lake Huron's waters! Consequently, most Great Lakes residents remain unaware of this proposed long-term threat to our fresh water seas.

         *  At this time, attempts to isolate & bury nuclear waste underground have failed world-wide. There are no successful models for DGR nuclear storage.

         *  Once this dump is sealed, there is NO timely way to secure leaks or to retrieve leaked material. OPG has stated it intends to eventually abandon the site and trust in unproven geological barriers to protect Great Lakes waters from this deadly radioactive waste for millions of years with zero oversight.

         *Canada is currently seeking a deep burial site for all of it's lethal irradiated fuel, including possible sites within the upper Great Lakes Watershed. Approval of this first dump could potentially open the door for a second, or combined, dump for high-level wastes along the Great Lakes.

These dangerous wastes would be placed approximately 2,230 feet beneath the surface into carved limestone caverns. Limestone is an extremely soft, permeable rock and there is a danger that the integrity of the cavern could fail and the waste chamber could become filled with water. Again, NO underground repositories have operated successfully at this point anywhere in the world - and certainly not any located in limestone. Many knowledgeable and concerned scientists and organizations are aware of the failure of underground dumps to isolate and contain long-lived nuclear wastes thus far. None of these dumps has lasted even 50 years without a nuclear waste event, let alone millions. These scientists agree that above ground storage, which can be monitored and retrieved in the event of an emergency is the best choice at present and a far better alternative than dumping these dangerous wastes where future generations will have no oversight or control.

Many citizens may not now remember that in 1986, Joe Clark, the Canadian Minister of State for External Affairs, voiced strong opposition to possible deep underground radioactive waste sites in the crystalline rock in the the northeastern US, near watersheds shared by the US and Canada "...that could present a transboundary threat to the welfare of Canadians or the integrity of the Canadian environment." The sites of concern were withdrawn. It is only right to expect Canada to hold the same care and concern for our shared watersheds that we have showed them.

 

The 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty provides for the US or Canada to seek review & recommendations from the International Joint Commission (IJC) in disputes regarding these international waters. Federal legislators in Michigan have introduced legislation calling on President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to protect these invaluable waters and to request that the IJC conduct its own comprehensive review.