Canadian plans for a large nuclear waste facility on the US border are triggering a cross-border public outcry and a looming diplomatic backlash.
Canada is planning to build the nuclear waste facility in the town of Kincardine, on the Canadian side of Lake Huron and directly opposite the thumb of the US state of Michigan.
The facility would store 200,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste from Ontario’s 20 nuclear reactors.
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While Ontario Power Generation insists that the facility would be kept safe for thousands of years due to the fact that it would be more than 2,200 feet underground in a layer of limestone and covered with a 660-foot layer of shale, the public is skeptical about the potential threat this poses to Lake Huron—one of the world’s largest fresh water bodies.
The Canadian government is expected to issue a recommendation in the coming weeks to the Cabinet, which will decide whether to approve plans for the facility. But on the diplomatic front, they will face pressure to reject the project.
US senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to seek the involvement of the International Joint Commission in asking the Canadians to reconsider the plans.
“The placement of this nuclear waste storage facility is of great concern given its location near Lake Huron and the importance of the Great Lakes to tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian citizens for drinking water, fisheries, tourism, recreation and other industrial and economic uses. Special consideration must be given to the potential environmental impacts of such a large radioactive waste site on the shores of our region’s most important natural resource,” Stabenow and Levin wrote.
U.S. federal officials have also joined the fight to oppose the plans.
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The project has also sparked a public outcry, from both sides of the border. Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes that comprise the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world and provide 21% of all fresh water supplies. Tens of millions of Americans and Canadians rely on these lakes for fresh water.
Not only do 24 million Americans get their drinking water from the Great Lakes, but this also represents a $2.4-billion fishing industry and a $13-billion tourism industry.
Despite this, the residents of Kincardine itself—the proposed site of the waste facility—largely support the project, which will bring in new jobs to this small town.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com