Ontario Power Generation proposes burying nuclear waste in underground bunker near Great Lakes
A Canadian environmental assessment of a proposal to bury nuclear waste deep underground near the shores of Lake Huron is expected this week amid fierce opposition to the idea from home and abroad.
Ontario Power Generation argues that storing the radioactive material in a huge underground bunker set in rock — the deep geological repository or DGR — is the safest way to deal with waste that is potentially dangerous for centuries.
For decades, the waste has been stored above ground at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont., and OPG says it could continue doing so safely but says a long-term solution is needed.
The proposed facility would be about 680 metres deep and close to the Bruce reactors and house hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of what is considered to be low- and intermediate-level waste from facilities across Ontario.
Stable bedrock and shale would essentially seal the facility, protecting both the surface and nearby lake for thousands of years, proponents say.
Opponents say proposal is dangerous
Opponents, however, argue no system is foolproof and any problems – especially with a facility about one kilometre from a major water source for millions of people – could be catastrophic.
U.S. senator opposes underground storage of nuclear waste
Opposition has also been heard much farther afield. More than 150 communities, many in Michigan and Illinois, have passed resolutions opposing such underground storage.O
Earlier this month, for example, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate calling on the Canadian government to ban any nuclear waste repository within the Great Lakes basin.
“A spill of nuclear waste into the Great Lakes could have lasting and severely adverse environmental, health, and economic impacts,” the resolution states.
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