U.S. Water News Online
DETROIT -- Like the United States, Canada is searching for
a permanent home for its high-level nuclear waste. But a proposal
unfolding in Ontario to build a permanent underground storage
facility within a mile of Lake Huron is being fought by a Michigan
Michigan residents have relied on nuclear power for electricity
since 1962, and the state now has four operating commercial reactors.
For now, radioactive nuclear waste is being stored on site at the 31
reactors in the U.S. and Canada in the Great Lakes basin.
Ontario's proposal would send low- and intermediate-level
radioactive waste, such as contaminated mops, clothes and tools, from
all the province's nuclear plants to a storage facility at the Bruce
nuclear power complex in Kincardine, about 120 miles northeast of
Ontario has 20 reactors, with more under consideration.
U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, generally a backer of nuclear
power, is trying to stop the repository from being opened.
"How foolhardy to have this on the shores of Lake Huron," Stupak
told The Detroit News. "How do you clean up (nuclear contamination)
Stupak is designated to head the House Energy and Commerce
subcommittee on oversight in the next Congress , and he said he wants
to hold hearings on the Bruce proposal.
Michael Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes
said the problem began when nuclear power plants began operation
without a plan for disposing of the radioactive waste they create.
"It's a technology that they pushed forward without resolving what
to do with the end product -- the nuclear waste. It's like building a
house without a toilet," he said.
About 13 percent of Michigan's electrical power comes from nuclear
The state's active plants are DTE Energy Co.'s Fermi 2 Nuclear
Power Station near Monroe, Palisades Nuclear Plant near South Haven
and Donald C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman. All have
radioactive waste stored on site.
Nuclear waste also is stored at the site of the decommissioned Big
Rock Nuclear Plant near Charlevoix.
A fight is under way over the site being studied as the nation's
potential permanent nuclear waste dump, Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
The Democratic takeover of the U.S. Senate will make U.S. Sen.
Harry Reid of Nevada, D-Nev., a longtime opponent of the Yucca
Mountain plan, the Senate majority leader.
"Who knows when Yucca Mountain will be ready?" asked Mark Savage,
spokesman for Nuclear Management Co., operator of the Palisades
"The waste sits here, and the operators have to maintain its
safety and security," he said. "We're doing that, but the federal
government really has shirked its responsibility."
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