Washington — Twelve members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have written to the new Canadian prime minister urging him to block plans for an underground storage facility for nuclear waste near Lake Huron in Ontario.
The majority of Michigan’s 16 congressional members want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was sworn in Wednesday, not to issue construction permits for the project by Ontario Power Generation to construct a deep geologic repository near Kincardine, three-quarters of a mile from the shore of the lake. The facility would hold low- to intermediate-level nuclear waste for hundreds of years.
Canadian environmental regulators have delayed until December a decision on whether to allow construction to proceed.
“The Great Lakes are our most precious natural resource, providing drinking water to 40 million people on both sides of the border and billions of dollars to our regional and national economies,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Given the critical importance of these shared waters to our countries, and the potentially catastrophic damages to the lakes from a nuclear accident, we urge your administration not to approve this repository and consider alternative locations outside the Great Lakes Basin.”
The delegation has previously called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to get involved in the controversy and to encourage the Canadian government to reassess the plans.
Earlier this year, U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, sponsored legislation aimed at getting the International Joint Commission involved in the issue. The commission was created more than a century ago to handle boundary disputes between the United States and Canada.
The bill would also require the State Department to negotiate with Canada to wait for results of a study by the commission before approving a waste site near the Great Lakes.
Ontario Power Generation has said the repository will safely house radioactive materials over the long term and that the geologic makeup surrounding the underground vault would naturally guard against leaks.
In addition to Stabenow, Peters and Kildee, the signatories of Thursday’s letter include Democratic Reps. John Conyers Jr., Sander Levin, Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell as well as Republicans Dan Benishek, Candice Miller, Mike Bishop, John Moolenaar and Dave Trott.