By Ziggy Kleinau, Citizens For Renewable Energy, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
Spectacular scenery is not hard to come by when you are near the Great Lakes. But the Bruce Peninsula has scenery that will take your breath away. About 87 km (54 miles) south of the Bruce Peninsula, the Lake Huron shoreline becomes much more industrial with the presence of a nuclear facility where they are proposing an expansion of reactors and the development of a radioactive waste dump. Our lake provides such diverse and important uses – drinking water, recreation, and commercial fisheries. But will a large nuclear waste dump located barely more than one km (one-half mile) from Lake Huron alter that delicate balance?
The Bruce Nuclear facility is currently the largest nuclear facility in North America and Bruce Power,a private corporation, having leased the reactors from Ontario Power Generation, is working on an expansion to build four new reactors, which could make it the largest nuclear power plant in the world. Ontario Power Generation, which manages the huge adjacent Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) is proposing to build a deep radioactive repository beneath the Western Waste Management Facility on the shores of Lake Huron. The 660 m (approx. 2,150 feet) deep caverns would contain all radioactive wastes, except spent nuclear fuel, from Ontario’s twenty nuclear reactors. Waste to be stored includes transuranic radionuclides such as plutonium, contaminated filters from irradiated fuel pools,thousands of irradiated metallic pipes and other contaminated items.
Citizens For Renewable Energy believes that, with obvious signs of climate change and weather extremes, siting a nuclear waste dump right next to the drinking water supply of millions of Canadians and Americans is a disaster waiting to happen.
The environmental impact of the Western Waste Management Facility is being reviewed by an independent panel. There are concerns about the make-up of the 3-member independent panel which is slated to have two members from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
“The Ontario government wants to build a nuclear waste dump on the shores of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. There are serious risks involved in doing this and we want to ensure a full and independent assessment of what the consequences will be, free of bias from the nuclear establishment,” said Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
“People from across the Great Lakes region will be living with the consequences of this decision for thousands of years. Their voices, and not only those in favour of nuclear power, must be heard,” said Michael Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes.“The public deserves an independent and accountable environmental assessment. It is crucial that citizens engage strongly today to ensure their voices are heard during the environmental assessment.”
Canada’s approval process for nuclear facilities and radioactive waste sites are quite complicated and there are many steps. Another Public Comment period is coming up, so stay tuned for that opportunity. In the meantime, you can help by contacting your federal lawmakers and asking for their support in stopping the expansion of nuclear power facilities and waste sites in the Great Lakes region. This is the perfect time to urge our decision makers to look towards clean alternative energies.