LANSING — State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) today introduced House Resolution 66 urging Congress to oppose Ontario Power Generation’s proposed underground nuclear waste repository in Ontario, Canada. The deep geologic repository would bury low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste less than a mile from Lake Huron’s Canadian shore and only 440 yards below lake level. Rep. Roberts testified in Canada against the plan during the public hearing. She also sponsored resolutions against it in previous legislative sessions.
“Burying waste so close to the lake that is a source of drinking water for millions of Michiganders is too dangerous and poses too great a risk to the public’s health and the quality of our water,” said Roberts.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and U.S. Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) have also introduced resolutions against the repository in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with the support of other Michigan and Great Lakes states legislators. On May 6, the Canadian Joint Review Panel is expected to submit their report and recommendations to Canada’s Minister of the Environment. Since the panel’s review process began in 2007, 152 resolutions have passed in Canada and the United States opposing the repository. In addition to Michigan, anti-repository resolutions have passed in Ohio, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota and throughout Canada.
“The American and Canadian communities that have passed these resolutions represent 20.4 million residents who could be at risk should Lake Huron be contaminated by a radioactive leak,” said Roberts. “The Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair are interconnected and no one really knows how any contamination could be completely stopped from spreading into the lakes and nearby rivers. There has to be a better way to deal with this waste than to bury it where it poses a threat to the drinking water of 40 million people.”
Low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste can remain toxic for over 100,000 years, contaminating the surrounding area if not properly contained. Burying this waste so close to Lake Huron not only endangers the drinking water of millions of Michigan’s residents, it also could have a devastating impact on two of Michigan’s top industries – agriculture and tourism – should the waste site leak.
Rep. Roberts’s resolution asks Congress to oppose Ontario Power Generation’s planned repository and instead urge Canadian officials to seek other alternatives. Current Michigan law prohibits the disposal of radioactive waste of any site within 10 miles of the Great Lakes and certain other major bodies of water connected to them.