Raise your voice about nuclear waste plans

Nuclear waste dump planned at Bruce Power on the shores of Lake Huron

Owen Sound Times: BRENT GIBSON - June 4 2008

Ontario Power Generation is planning an underground radioactive waste dump in Bruce County, a mere kilometre from the shore of Lake Huron.

Citizens from across the Great Lakes region fear the independence of the environmental assessment panel will be compromised by the presence of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Great Lakes United's Green Energy and Nuclear Free Task Force urges that a completely independent review board be established, without Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission presence. The task force also calls on Great Lakes residents on both sides of the border to speak out, given the potential hazards of the proposed dumpsite for the entire Great Lakes watershed.

"Ontario Power Generation 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.

"An independent panel is one that has no conflict of interest because its members are not involved in promoting, defending, or licensing nuclear facilities," Edwards p>The nuclear regulator has never had a seat on a panel for environmental assessments, and their role in this one could set a dangerous precedent, downplaying the dump's radiological risks to health and the environment.

After pressure from citizen groups and elected officials in both Canada and the United States, the Canadian government has committed to a full panel review, but the presence of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission threatens to bias decision-making in favour of a pro-nuclear position, despite the risks.

"The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, like the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has all too often rubber stamped risky nuclear experiments," said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear in Washington, D. C. "Given the grave radiological risks of this proposed dumpsite on the shore of the Great Lakes, they would have a conflict of interest and undermine an independent environmental assessment."

"Citizens 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 Keagan 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.'"

The proposal involves building a deep repository beneath the Bruce Nuclear plant site near Kincardine. The largest nuclear power plant in North America, it is looking to build new reactors which could make it the largest nuclear power plant in the world. The dump site would contain all radioactive wastes, except spent radioactive fuel, from Ontario's 20 nuclear reactors. Waste to be stored includes transuranic radionuclides, such as plutonium, contaminated filters from irradiated fuel pools; thousands of highly radioactive metallic pipes and other contaminated items.

Last week the Macomb County Water Quality Board and the Macomb County Board of Commissioners in Michigan both passed resolutions opposing any underground radioactive waste dump in the Great Lakes region. Over the past two years, members of Congress have repeatedly spoken out against the proposed dump, including Energy Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak of northern Michigan and Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers of Detroit.

"Macomb County is saying very clearly that the actions of its neighbours have a huge impact on the health of its communities and environment," said Kay Cumbow of Citizens Against Chemical Contamination. "Siting a nuclear waste dump right next to the drinking water supply of over 30 million Canadians and Americans is a disaster waiting to happen."

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