Company stands by plan to bury nuke waste near Lake Huron

January 4, 2017 by John Flesher

A Canadian company that wants to bury waste from nuclear power plants near Lake Huron said Tuesday a study of alternative sites had found none better than a location already targeted, which has drawn strong opposition on both sides of the border.

Ontario Power Generation said it had submitted additional studies ordered nearly a year ago by the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which twice has delayed a ruling on the company's underground disposal plan. The agency said recently it expects to make a decision this summer or fall.

The company's preferred site is on the grounds of the Bruce Power Generating Station near Kincardine, Ontario, the world's largest nuclear complex, which has eight reactors. The proposal calls for burying low- and intermediate-level waste such as clothing, brooms and discarded machinery—some of which could remain dangerously toxic for thousands of years—about 2,230 feet underground.

It would be encased in a limestone formation that the company says has been stable for 450 million years. The storage chamber would be much deeper than Lake Huron and the company says there is virtually no chance of radioactive pollution reaching the lake, which is less than a mile away.

Responding to a request by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Ontario Power Generation said it had examined two alternative sites—one in a crystalline rock formation in north-central Ontario and the other in limestone in the province's south. The specific locations were not disclosed because of the study's hypothetical nature, company spokesman Kevin Powers said, adding that both are farther from the lake than the Bruce Power site.

Although technically and economically suitable, they would be costlier and could affect the environment more than the preferred spot, the report said. Building a disposal facility at either of the alternative sites would create a new industrial footprint and boost for decades as waste is hauled from temporary storage canisters at Bruce Power to the permanent dump.

"And all for no assurance of greater safety to the environment or to the lake," Powers said.

Opponents of the Bruce Power disposal plan remained unconvinced.

"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," said U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Michigan.

A review panel appointed by the Canadian government endorsed the project in 2015 after lengthy hearings that included testimony and reports from scientists.

But 186 cities, counties and other governments have passed resolutions and more than 150,000 people have signed petitions in opposition, according to a Canada-based group called Stop the Nuclear Dump.

"Water is Life," said Beverly Fernandez, the group's spokeswoman. "No matter what process is followed, burying radioactive waste beside the Great Lakes, the irreplaceable drinking water for 40 million people, will always be a bad idea."

Explore further: 92,000 petition Canada not to store nuclear waste near Great Lakes

Related Stories

Nuclear waste burial debate produces odd alliances

November 26, 2013

Ordinarily, a proposal to bury radioactive waste in a scenic area that relies on tourism would inspire "not in my backyard" protests from local residents—and relief in places that were spared.

Feds seek borehole test for potential hot nuke waste burial

February 14, 2016

The federal government plans to spend $80 million assessing whether its hottest nuclear waste can be stored in 3-mile-deep holes, a project that could provide an alternative strategy to a Nevada repository plan that was halted ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 04, 2017
"Out of sight, out of mind."

- Official slogan of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2017
"Out of sight, out of mind."

- Official slogan of the ...
...Wind and Solar industries too.

"Tens of thousands of tons of toxic waste from producing 2,000 kilos of Neodymium for the direct-drive permanent-magnet generator of every single large wind turbine..."
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2017
Why not Barry it in deep abandoned oil wells in the dryer parts of Alberta
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2017
clothing, brooms and discarded machinery

These do not even need to be buried. The old jumpsuits and brooms can be burned and the metals from the machinery reclaimed to use.

There's just a double standard for radiation safety: what others consider safe - such as fly ash from burning coal/oil or slightly radioactive rock used in making concrete for houses, or metals with a trace fraction of radioisotopes - becomes nuclear waste by taking it through the doors of a nuclear powerplant and therefore illegal to recycle.

Even tritium containing water has to be buried or "reprocessed" at great expense, though the half-life is just 12 years and the amount of tritium so small that it wouldn't make a lick of difference if you just poured it in a river - it doesn't bioaccumulate in animals.
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 12, 2017
Well, yeah, we can burn it and put all that radioactivity into the air for us to breathe.

I'd rather not.
not rated yet Jan 12, 2017
" - becomes nuclear waste by taking it through the doors of a nuclear powerplant and therefore illegal to recycle."

My father worked at Salwick in the UK, a reprocessing facility, and told how anything that had been on the site, even if never used and never in contact with radiation, had to be buried after a few years. A tremendous waste and absolutely illogical. Mainstream media has promoted this fear of anything nuclear, which can only be countered by teaching the true facts to all students, starting in junior school.
1 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2017
Why bury it? Hiding something?

I suggest they keep it in special chambers in the corporate headquarters, where they can keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, . . .

Uncle Ira
5 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2017
Why bury it? Hiding something?
If you bury it in the right place (you know, one of those places that have been geologically stable for millions of years?) and you burying it deep enough, then you won't have to hire all those armed Skippys to guard it for next 200,000 years.

It would really hard for the Bad-Skippys to sneak in with tunnel boring earth moving and mining equipments they would need to go in and take it out in less than a couple years. One low paid lookout with a radio could keep tabs on it (or even a drone if high tech makes you feel better.) Any Bad-Skippys show up prepared to get it,,,, well if that kind of Bad-Skippy shows up, the waste is the least of your worries.

Choot, I really have doubts that we will even be here in 1000 years, much less the 200,000 years, eh?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.