By Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is asking his fellow Great Lakes mayors to join him in raising concerns about plans to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron.
Bradley said he met recently with members of the Inverhuron Committee, a Huron County citizens’group opposed to the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) plan to build a deep geologic repository on the Bruce nuclear site near Kincardine.
It would manage about 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate waste from nuclear generating stations in Ontario.
Bradley has written to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a group representing communities on both sides of the border, urging it to ask for “a full public process that would allow an international debate on this initiative.”
Bradley said there appears to be little public awareness about the plan to build the facility near Lake Huron.
“If this has to exist, it would make more sense away from the Great Lakes’ where 40 million people get their drinking water, he said.
OPG is seeking federal approval for the site and a public hearing is expected in 2013. Construction would take five to seven years and the earliest the site could begin receiving waste is 2019, according to OPG.
It says the facility would be about 680 metres below ground in limestone, beneath a 200-metre thick layer of shale, and would be isolated from surface and drinking water.
“These sedimentary bedrock formations, that provide multiple natural barriers, will safely isolate and contain the low and intermediate level nuclear waste for many thousands of years and beyond,” OPG says.
Low level waste includes mop heads, paper towels and protective clothing contaminated during maintenance work at the power stations. Intermediate waste includes reactor components, resins and filters.
Used nuclear fuel will not be stored at the site.
A brief the Inverhuron Committee prepared for the cities initiative says OPG’s facility will be built about 850 metres from the lake.
“That is close enough so that any leakage of nuclear waste would quickly find its way into the lake,” it says.
Bradley said he’s concerned the federal government has been seen recently “scoping down and eliminating environmental assessments on a significant number of issues.”
Environmental groups and communities along the lakes recently raised the alarm about a plan to ship nuclear waste through the lakes and on to Europe for recycling.
“We continue, on an annual basis, to fight off attempts to put the Great Lakes in jeopardy,”Bradley said.
“Every year there’s something new.”
Bradley said his request is expected to go before the board of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative before the end of the year.
“With 80 to 90 communities and mayors on both sides of the border, from Chicago all the way through, it has impact,” he said.