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Nestle will more than double the amount of water it draws for bottling and selling to consumers around the world if Nestle's current application to expand it's water drawing operations is approved. This would bring the amount of water it withdraws from the Osceola County aquifer in question from 300,000 gal / day to more than 600,000 gal / day. (that's an increase of over 250 gal / second!  Imagine trying to fit that in your pantry!)

Expanding demand for bottled water world wide, coupled with a contaminate issue at one of the corporation's municipal wells seem to be behind Nestle's request.

To date, Nestle has taken over 1 BILLION gallons of water from the Great Lakes Basin and paid Michigan ZERO dollars to do so. The new application still allows the company to draw & sell Michigan waters tax & royalty free but will impose an annual administrative fee of just $200.

"The juxtaposition is pretty stark," said Liz Kirkwood, director of the Traverse City nonprofit environmental advocacy group FLOW (For Love of Water).

"It's ironic that the state of Michigan won't pay for bottled water and 100 miles away they are giving away Pure Michigan water for $200 a year at the wellhead."

- Find this quote and more information on why getting Nestle to pay more is tricky in this great article from Mlive.


Importantly, environmental groups such as Clean Water Action maintain that Nestle has failed to provide adequate information in their proposal, evaluating the increased water withdrawal on wetlands, plants & animal life and have cited concerns over seemingly shady DEQ practices, such as allowing Nestle to routinely withdraw water beyond their permit capacity and publishing it's "public notice" regarding the request in a way that seemed likely to ensure that few Michigan residents would notice or comment. Opponents maintain that an independent & comprehensive study of environmental impacts should be completed before the request is approved. Nestle's own proposal states that it expects 5 wetland areas to be effected by a drop in local water levels, but maintains that the company does not expect adverse ecological effects in those areas. The report additionally states the company expects that lower water levels may adversely effect up to 45 wells owned by Michigan residents.

Although the Water Resources Division of the MI Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has already signed off on the request, citizen outcry has led to the now third extension of the public comment period for this issue. Ultimately, Nestle's request must be approved by the DEQ's Office of Drinking Water & Municipal Assistance per the Michigan Safe Water Drinking Act if the project is to move forward. Computerized environmental impact assessment tools run by the Water Resources Division rated the project with an environmental grade of 'D', the lowest possible rating the model provides. A 'D' rating means the project is likely to have a large environmental impact, however WRD staffers overrode the computer model's findings and approved the project after conducting an on site review - ultimately deciding to give the project an 'A' grade, meaning least likely to cause environmental impact, instead.  WRD staff maintains that it is not uncommon for staff to overrule computer model findings on project requests.
 
Comments can be emailed to  deq-eh@michigan.gov  and must be received by the new April 21st deadline. The Sierra Club has made a sample comment letter available for residents to use when submitting their responses.
 

Northwatch has both an updated webpage  www.bruce-nuclear-waste-burial.ca and a backgrounder  Updated Backgrounder(02/2017) that contains sample comment points for the current public comment period to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) on additional information provided by Ontario Power Generation on their proposed deep underground dump for "low" and "intermediate" radioactive wastes from their 20 Ontario reactors. The proposed dump would have an entrance less than a mile from Lake Huron - one of the Laurentian Great Lakes, which provide roughly 90% of North America's surface fresh water. Additional information was requested by the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the spring of 2016. The public now has an opportunity to comment on whether OPG has provided the information requested by the Minister, and also comment on the information they have provided.

Written comments must be sent by 11:59pmEST March 6, 2017 by mail or email to:

Deep Geologic Repository Project
Project Manager
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor, Ottawa ON  K1A 0H3

CEAA.DGR.Project-Projet.DGR.ACEE@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

The CEAA has assured us that comments mailed in that have a postmark of March 6th will be accepted, but the CEAA encourages people to make comments electronically (by midnight (Eastern) of March 6th) or mail out through the postal system earlier than March 6th, if possible.

The CEAA will then write a draft report with their analysis of OPG's additional information and also comments received.
The public and Indigenous groups will then have the opportunity to review and comment on the CEAA's report.

 

 

 ****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.

 

 Burying Nuclear Waste at Bruce NGS  www.bruce-nuclear-waste-burial.ca

 Updated Backgrounder(02/2017)


Northwatch webinar from February 14 with Jill Taylor (SOS Great Lakes) and John Jackson, long-time Great Lakes activist.

Recording of February 2017 Webinar

Other key NGO resources:
SOS Great Lakes - http://www.sosgreatlakes.org/
Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump - http://www.stopthegreatlakesnucleardump.com/
Beyond Nuclear - www.beyondnuclear.org/Canada

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
- www.ccnr.org (Do a search for OPG's proposed DGR)
Northwatch - www.northwatch.org/
Know Nuclear Waste - http://www.knownuclearwaste.ca/ (focused mainly on high level waste or irradiated fuel in Canada, but has some information on OPG's proposed DGR)

Other resources:

The CEAA's Public Registry  on the proposed DUD
The February 2016 
letter from Minister to OPG requiring additional information from OPG
OPG's "additional information" is posted here: CEAR # 2883