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Canadian company answers questions about plan to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station right on Lake Huron in Ontario.
user Cszmurlo
Wikimedia Commons
Low- and mid-level nuclear waste could end up at a storage facility near the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station on Lake Huron.

The Canadian energy company Ontario Power Generation is standing by its proposal to store waste from nuclear power plants underground less than a mile from Lake Huron, despitecontinued opposition by many in the U.S. and Canada.

Ontario Power Generation submitted detailed answers to 23 questions from Canadian regulators about the utility’s planned "Deep Geologic Repository.”   The 145-page document, delivered last Friday, answered questions raised by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Credit Ontario Power Generation
A diagram of the proposed deep geologic repository.

Most of the questions involved whether there's a better place to put the low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The company wants to bury it 2,230 feet deep at the Bruce Power complex near Kincardine, Ontario.

The company says the waste would be encased in rock and would pose no threat to the lake. It says other sites would delay the project 15 years or more, without improving safety.

Utility spokesman Kevin Powers says the data back up OPG’s claim that the site, less than a mile from Lake Huron, can safely store the waste.    

“The answers to the questions that we’ve just done don’t change our analysis or the analysis of the international scientific community that the site that we proposed is the safest, the most appropriate site for (the) Deep Geologic Repository,” says Powers.

Powers says other sites would be more expensive (roughly $3 billion more than the current site), take longer to develop (15 to 30 years), and would provide no added safety.

Opponents disagree. They say OPG should look for another location.

“Their unwillingness to investigate actual alternative sites has left OPG with no option but to continue to defend the indefensible,” says Beverly Fernandez, with Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump.

In addition to citizen groups, local governments in more than 200 communities on both sides of the border object to putting it so close to Lake Huron, fearing water pollution.

Bipartisan legislators on both sides of the border also oppose the plan. Members of Michigan's congressional delegation submitted resolutions to oppose the proposal in March.

Canada's environment minister is expected to decide this year whether to approve the plan.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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