Council opposes proposed nuclear dumping site by Canadian power company

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — The City Council Monday agreed with the recommendations made by Michigan legislators and a Great Lakes advocacy group to oppose the concept of a nuclear dumping site along the Lake Huron shore.

Councilors agreed that the potential impact of the nuclear dumping site could be devastating to Wyandotte and other communities, along the Great Lake, citing the potential health and financial risks.

Part of their resolution addressed a potential for radioactive water and the effects it could have on the recreation services and water quality provided to residents and visitors to the city.

The city’s resolution urges Canadian officials to find alternatives to Ontario Power Generation’s proposal to bury nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin.

“In order to protect the Great Lakes and all waterways, the City of Wyandotte urges that neither this proposed nuclear waste repository at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station nor any underground repository be constructed in the Great Lakes Basin, in Canada, in the U.S. or anywhere.”

State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) and state Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Claire Shores) petitioned the council to address the proposed deep geologic repository by Ontario Power Generation. Hopgood and Roberts have both passed legislation — Senate Resolution 58 and House Resolution 178 — about the potential danger of the proposed underground site.

The dump site would be upstream from the main drinking water source for 40 million people in the United States and Canada, Hopgood said, and would be constructed in water-soluble limestone about 440 yards below the lake level.

“The impact of radioactive water could be devastating to Michigan’s economy and its fishing, boating, recreation, tourism, and agriculture industries that are dependent on the pristine waters,” he said in a statement to the council. “Many local governments are approving resolutions opposing this misguided project.”

Beverly Fernandez, a spokesperson for the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump organization, said the proposed site is “highly controversial and should be a major source of concern for the governments and citizens of Canada and the U.S.” because it would be located about a kilometer from the shore of Lake Huron. She said no one knows the long-term effects of the underground nuclear storage, but the nuclear waste OPG intends to store has the potential to be radioactive for 100,000 years.

“OPG wants to bury the most toxic, lethal, dangerous, and long lasting poisonous material humans have ever created, right beside the life giving waters of the Great Lakes,” she said. “Fresh drinkable water is required for life on this planet. Without it, life cannot exist. Water is life; it is that simple.”

In an environmental impact statement for this proposed nuclear waste burial facility, Roberts said, OPG noted that the acceptability of an alternative site was “unknown,” which she said is unacceptable because the due diligence hasn’t been done. She said there were a lot of unanswered questions despite the thousands of pages submitted for review by the company.

“Siting an underground nuclear waste repository in limestone, as proposed by Ontario Power Generation, is the first of its kind,” Roberts said. “This proposal to place a permanent nuclear waste burial facility so close to the Great Lakes raises serious concerns an effort to protect water quality.”

Roberts would like to see Canadian officials adopt stricter regulations on radioactive waste disposal. She said Michigan’s siting criteria for the disposal of low-level-radioactive waste prohibits any site located within 10 miles of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, the Saint Mary’s River, the Detroit River, the St. Clair River, or Lake St. Clair.

OPG supplies 85 percent of consumed electricity in Ontario with nuclear power plants throughout Canada and would like to store the nuclear waste under a Bruce County power plant in the city of Kincardine, Ontario.

Neal Kelly, the director of media relations for OPG, said the geology of the proposed DGR site has “very favorable conditions” because it would be located in 450 million year old rock “that is very stable and in a low seismic area.” The Kincardine community, he said, approached the energy company with a willingness to host the dumping site.

“We have a willing site community (Kincardine) who asked us to find a safe permanent solution for the long term storage of low and intermediate level nuclear waste,” Kelly said. “For over 40 years, we have safely stored and transported all of Ontario’s low and intermediate level waste to a facility that is located right beside the proposed DGR.”

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at