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Company stands by its plan for underground nuke waste disposal

Jan 4, 2017

A Canadian company has not changed its mind about wanting to bury low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste a little more than a half-mile from Lake Huron on the Bruce nuclear site near Kincardine, Ontario.

Ontario Power Generation said a study the company recently completed shows that burying the waste is the right plan and the current proposed Bruce nuclear site is the right place. 

OPG said it recently submitted the study to the Canadian environment ministry as requested by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The ministry had postponed a final decision on OPG's proposal.

OPG wants to permanently store about 200,000 cubic meters of low- to medium-level nuclear waste in rock chambers more than 2,ooo feet below ground. The waste would come from the Darlington, Pickering, and Bruce nuclear plants.

OPG spokesman Kevin Powers said the company looked at two other potential sites that are further from Lake Huron than the original site.

"Alternate locations proved no guarantee of improved safety or environmental quality and possibly a worse environmental outcome than the proposed location," said Powers.

The study cited adverse effects on vegetation and wildlife as a result of establishing a new site, and negative effects on air quality from transporting the waste from the Bruce nuclear site to a different location.

Powers said Canada's federal minister of Environment and Climate Change is expected to make a decision with the next six to nine months about whether the original proposal can proceed.

The original plan has been strongly opposed as a threat to the Great Lakes by activists, citizens and elected officials in the U.S. and Canada.

In a written statement issued after OPG released its new study, U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee said:

"Burying nuclear materials less than a mile from Lake Huron just doesn't make sense and is too much of a risk to take, especially considering nuclear material remains radioactive for thousands of years.... Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron."