An Ontario nuclear power generating company has officially dropped its pursuit of a deep underground storage facility for low- to intermediate-level radioactive waste within a half-mile of Lake Huron.
With that, OPG’s more than 16-year pursuit of a deep underground repository to store almost a half-mile underground some radioactive waste from its 20 nuclear reactors comes to an end — at least at the controversial location by Lake Huron.
Despite OPG’s repeated assurances that the repository would be a completely safe, long-term waste storage solution, opposition to the project was nearly unanimous in Michigan. Most cited the potential, however small, of the Great Lakes — the drinking water source for more than 40 million people on both the U.S. and Canadian sides — becoming contaminated with radiation.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Flint, was among the more vocal opponents of the repository plan over the years. He called OPG’s official dropping of the project “a huge victory for protecting the Great Lakes and our economy.”
“I am pleased to see Ontario Power Generation abandon its plans to build a nuclear waste storage site in Kincardine, less than half a mile from the shores of Lake Huron,” he said in an email to the Free Press. “Since I have been in Congress, I have worked to bring people together, in both the U.S. and Canada, to stop this dangerous proposal.”
The beginning of the end for the proposal came Jan. 31, when the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, a local First Nations tribe, overwhelmingly voted against the Deep Geologic Repository in a community referendum. OPG had pledged since 2013 that it would not continue to pursue the project if it did not have the tribe’s support.
“That vote really decided the matter,” said Fred Kuntz, OPG’s senior manager of corporate relations and projects.