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1909 treaty could keep Canadian nuclear waste away from Great Lakes

Aug 10, 2015

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Credit USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Can American legislators help to convince the Canadian environmental minister to say no to a plan to store nuclear waste underground less than a mile from Lake Huron?

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow hopes so. She unveiled legislation today related to a nuclear waste storage site planned for Kincardine, Ontario.

Stabenow says provisions have been discovered within the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 that would require that an international group comprised of both Americans and Canadians review the risks of putting radioactive waste in such close proximity to the lakes.

“If the State Department were to invoke the treaty, it would require the State Department to work with [the Canadians] to do a study, assess the risks, and then it would compel the Canadian government to consider alternative locations,” she says.

An advisory panel approved the Ontario Power Generation plan in May. The Canadian Minister for the Environment expects to hand down her decision by December 2.

Invoking the Boundary Waters Treaty could compel the Canadian government to reconsider the plan before that deadline.

“We want the U.S. and Canada together, not just the Canadian assessment, but a joint assessment on the risks,” Stabenow says. “We would like very much for the Canadians to look at other alternate locations.”

“There’s no need to take any level of risk here and put this waste by the Great Lakes.”

Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters will be putting forth the legislation in September and expect support from other Great Lakes senators.