By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer
Mayors along the Great Lakes Basin renewed their push this week to keep nuclear waste from ending up near their drinking water supply.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, representing about 120 municipalities, passed a resolution Wednesday calling for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to recognize “the value of staying as far away as possible” from the water source for 40 million people.
In February, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna called on OPG to further study its plan for a repository in 450-million-year-old rock near Kincardine.
She tasked OPG with looking at different sites, updating cumulative environmental effects, and updating mitigation commitments.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley wasn’t at the conference in Niagara Falls, New York, but was one of a group of mayors who vetted the resolution – including calls for OPG to respond in a “thorough and comprehensive manner” to McKenna’s request for more information, for national governments in Canada and the United States to evaluate “social acceptability” of any proposed repository for nuclear waste, and for both countries to designate radionuclides (radioactive particles) under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
“It’s our hope that (Canada’s) government will reject (OPG’s proposal) and say it should not be in the Great Lakes Basin,” Bradley said, noting nearly 200 municipalities, First Nations and environmental groups have signed resolutions in opposition.
OPG spokesperson Neal Kelly said the corporation plans to provide the update to McKenna by year’s end.
It’s considering two other sites, in sedimentary rock in central Ontario, and granite rock in central-east Ontario, he said.
“The study is not to seek a new willing host community,” he said. “We still firmly believe that Kincardine is the best site for this DGR (deep geologic repository), but we are looking at two geological regions in the province.”
A joint review panel previously gave the proposal – to bury and seal in the rock irradiated materials like incinerated mops and clothing, and used reactor filters – its stamp of approval.
“We have a responsibility to deal with the waste and not pass it onto future generations,” Kelly said, adding there is scientific support for the proposal as the “safest solution.”
Bradley said approving the project would be politically perilous.
“The groups that I’ve been involved in, all the different organizations that have been against this, it’s massive across the whole Great Lakes region,” he said. “All we’re saying is we understand the need to care of the waste, we just do not believe it should be in the Great Lakes Basin.”