Controversial Ontario nuclear waste plan approved
A Canadian government review panel has approved a plan from the Ontario electricity utility to store nuclear waste deep underground near the Great Lakes. Critics are angry over the decision.
The environmental assessment concluded that burying the hazardous nuclear material deep underground near the shore of Lake Huron is likely the best way to deal with the problem.
Ontario Power Generation wants to bury hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of low and intermediate level nuclear waste more than 2,000 feet underground in the bedrock near the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.
"The rock below the Bruce site is ideal for burying this type of material," says Neal Kelly, who speaks for Ontario Power Generation.
Kelly says it's not a new method of disposal, having been used in Finland and in New Mexico. Experts who support the move say the rock is geologically stable and would provide a hermetic seal to prevent any radioactivity reaching the lake for tens of thousands of years.
In its 430-page report, the federal review panel found no significant adverse environmental risk to the lake, but did say it should be watched closely and regulated.
But critics like Beverly Fernandez of Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, aren't buying it.
"It is a decision that will affect the Great Lakes for 100,000 years," says Fernandez.
Environmental activists say it is an issue that affects millions of people on both sides of the border. Keith Hobbs, the mayor of Thunder Bay, Ontario, calls it a "bone-headed idea." More than 150 communities have condemned it.
"One of our main concerns was that no other sites were looked at," Hobbs says.
The final decision will be made by Canada's environment minister. She has four months to make the call. If it is approved, it could be in operation within 10 years.