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Ontario Power Generation formally ends effort to place nuclear waste storage site near Lake Huron

Lake Huron waves crashing
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A Canadian company has officially ended efforts to place a low and intermediate-level nuclear waste storage facility near the shore of Lake Huron.

The decision comes after the Saugeen-Ojibway nation, on whose land the waste site was proposed, voted overwhelmingly against the project.

In letters sent in May, Ontario Power Generation officially withdrew from an environmental assessment of the project and an application for a construction license. Those withdrawals were first reported in the Detroit Free Press.

Fred Kuntz is with OPG. He said after fifteen years, the company decided to look elsewhere to build a storage facility.

“You need three things in Ontario for a project like this to proceed. You need good geology, which we had, you need municipal support, which we had, and you need Indigenous support. Without that, we couldn’t proceed with the project,” he said.

Kuntz said the company will begin looking for alternate locations.

“There is a scientific consensus that deep repositories in good geology are the lasting solution,” he said. “We’ll look at alternate locations for a deep repository.”

Kuntz noted that there are many temporary facilities for storing nuclear waste on both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Great Lakes. He said finding a long term repository for nuclear waste is especially important given the growing concerns over climate change.

“Nuclear is part of the solution to climate change. It’s a vital tool in mitigating carbon emissions. There’s no credible solution to climate change that doesn’t involve the use of nuclear worldwide," he said.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee (D-05) has opposed the project since 2013. He said today was a big win for the Great Lakes.

“This is a moment to celebrate,” he said. “The fight is not over because there are many threats to the Great Lakes including other potential storage facilities but this is a win for the Great Lakes and we’re really happy about this decision.”

Kildee said he does agree with OPG that the U.S. and Canada need to find long-term repositories for nuclear waste. But, he said, those shouldn’t be close to the Great Lakes.

“In the vast landmass that comprises Canada, there must be a better location than a location close to the Great Lakes,” he said.

A second, high-level nuclear storage facility could still be built near Lake Huron. The Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization is considering two possible sites for a facility, one of which is near the lake. The organization is expected to select a site for the facility by 2023.

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