KINCARDINE, Ontario — If there was an off-key moment during the otherwise flawlessly executed trip to the U.S. Capitol this spring by the new Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, it might have come when he was cornered by Rep. Debbie Dingell.
“We never want to see nuclear waste in the Great Lakes,” the freshman Democrat from Michigan sternly told Trudeau during a visit to the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Trudeau knew what Dingell was talking about. A few weeks earlier, his administration delayed an expected final ruling on whether Ontario Power Generation (OPG) could blast an area twice as big as the White House in a hole as deep as four Washington Monuments and then dump and seal inside 50 years’ worth of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste amassed by the province’s three nuclear power plants.
The material, which will take thousands of years to decay to levels that are not toxic, would reside beneath layers of rock that geologists say have not moved in tens of millions of years. The planned Deep Geological Repository is controversial in part because it would sit about a mile from the bottom of Lake Huron. And that has prompted widespread activism throughout the Great Lakes region among those who see the concept as too risky for the 40 million people who rely on this, the largest freshwater network in the world.
Trudeau has remained tight-lipped on the plan, much to the frustration of many in both the United States and Canada.Dingell left her Trudeau visit, she said, a bit baffled and frustrated. “All he said was that he truly cares about the environment,” she said. “I didn’t know what to make of that. I’m not going to read into it. I just don’t know.”