A controversial proposal to bury nuclear waste a half mile from Lake Huron’s shoreline in Ontario is proceeding over indigenous objections in a plan that has repercussions on both sides of the U.S.–Canada border.
Opposition to the plan, which would inter low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste about 2,230 feet underground in solid rock, is sparking opposition from Indigenous Peoples and U.S. politicians alike.
“We have a long list of fears, legitimate fears in our community about these facilities, interaction with our rights, our interests and our way of life,” said Saugeen Ojibwe Nation Chief Randall Kahgee to Indian Country Today Media Network.
The Saugeen Ojibwe is one of several indigenous communities opposing the application of Ontario Power Generation for a license to store nuclear waste in an underground facility. Ontario Power, a public company owned by the provincial government, is one of the largest power generators in North America. It wants to construct a deep geologic repository—akin to a mine shaft—for storing low and intermediate-level nuclear waste within the municipality of Kincardine. The repository would be located at an existing nuclear site known as the Bruce Generating Station, where there is already a nuclear waste-management facility. The waste in question is stored there above-ground, or in shallow pits.
Kincardine agreed to host the waste in return for $35.7 million that Ontario Power will pay the town and some neighboring communities over 30 years. The facility would be about 2,300 feet (680 meters) below ground, built to store low and intermediate-level nuclear waste from the power generator’s nuclear plants all over the province. Materials include the ashes of items used at nuclear facilities such as mops, clothes, floor sweepings and gloves, according to the Canadian Press. Intermediate-level waste comprises things like filters, resins and reactor components. The site has been studied and analyzed by engineers, geologists, geoscientists and hydrologists and is safe for this purpose, Ontario Power officials told ICTMN.
“Neither the U.S. nor Canada can afford the risk of polluting the Great Lakes with toxic nuclear waste,” U.S. Representatives Dan Kildee, Sander Levin, John Dingell and Gary Peters of Michigan said in a letter submitted to the panel, according to the Canadian Press.
These echo the concerns of the Saugeen Ojibwe.