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Lawmakers ask Trump to stop nuke waste storage plan

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation on Wednesday led the introduction of resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate in opposition to a controversial Canadian plan to build a nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron in Ontario.

The resolution urges President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to work with their counterparts in Canada to prevent an underground storage facility for low- to mid-level nuclear wastes near the shore of Lake Huron. Ontario Power Generation has sought approval in the last decade for the project.

The resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township, and Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township, says the United States and Canada should together develop a safe and responsible solution for the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

Other original co-sponsors of the resolutions include lawmakers from other Great Lakes states, including Michigan Reps. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; David Trott, R-Birmingham; Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak; Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, and John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

“Canada is facing a critical decision that will impact generations in both our countries,” Stabenow said in a statement. “A nuclear waste spill near the Great Lakes could have a devastating impact on our health and environment and threaten our Michigan way of life. Given what is at stake, I urge our Canadian neighbors to make the right choice and shelve plans for this site once and for all.”

Peters said the Canadian plan could cause lasting damage to the Great Lakes and undermine progress in cleaning up water quality in the Great Lakes Basin.

“President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson should make every effort to prevent the Canadian government from moving forward with this proposal and work to find an alternative solution that does not jeopardize the health of the Great Lakes,” Peters said in a statement.

Kildee noted many people have opposed the plan. “Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron,” he said.

Ontario Power Generation’s repository would sit 2,230 feet below the surface and less than a mile from the lake shore. Company officials say the makeup of the rock at that depth would be good for safely storing wastes for hundreds of years.

The administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has put the nuclear storage facility on hold for further review, asking OPG to review the possibility of relocating the project. In January, the company said other sites would be too costly.

Staff writer Jim Lynch contributed