Macomb County says [Canadian] nuke dump could endanger water supply

Eartha Jane Melzer: May 5, 2008

The Macomb County Commission and the county's water quality board have passed resolutions opposing a Canadian plan to create an underground nuclear waste dump on Lake Huron.

"This is the craziest damn thing I have ever heard of," Water Quality Board Chairman Doug Martz said about the plan to store radioactive waste from Ontario's nuclear power plants a half mile underground in Kincardine, Ontario, fifty miles from Michigan across Lake Huron.

"We've got to store this waste anywhere from 100,000 to a million years. The concern is that it could end up in the water," he said. "If there is an accident I don't know a water treatment plant anywhere that can filter out radiation." An accident at the proposed facility could damage the drinking water for 40 million people in downstream cities including Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland and Toronto, he said.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously by both bodies, notes that this type of project has never been done before and would not be permitted under Michigan environmental regulations.

The commissioners resolved that in order to protect the Great Lakes and its tributaries no underground nuclear waste repository should be allowed anywhere in the Great Lakes basin.

Martz said that the resolutions will now be distributed by the county health department and sent to U.S., Canadian and tribal officials in hopes of raising awareness of risks from the proposed project.

Kay Cumbow, a longtime anti-nuclear activist with Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, praised the county's resolution and said that actions by U.S. officials have resulted in increased oversight for the project.

She added: "Thanks to international citizen groups and elected officials such as U.S. Reps. Bart Stupak and John Conyers and St. Clair County's Drain Commissioner, Fred Fuller [all Michigan Democrats], the proposal for the deep underground dump must undergo a full panel review by Canadian authorities."

Everyone who cares about the long-term water quality of the Great Lakes should read about and comment on the proposal, Cumbow said.

If the dump is built, she said, all of Canada's nuclear waste could end up there and the site could eventually contain more nuclear waste than the proposed U.S. storage site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Nuclear energy provides half of the electricity in Ontario.

A public information session on the proposed dump will be held on May 27 in Kincardine.

The public comment period on the proposal is open until June 18.

More information about the proposed "deep geological repository" is available here

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