Canadian agency delays approving nuclear waste site
A controversial Canadian nuclear waste repository near Lake Huron in Ontario is facing another delay in the approval process from by the Canadian government.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration has asked the Ontario Power Generation utility to answer more questions and provide more details about storing the low-level and mid-level radioactive material in alternative locations. The original proposed 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, but members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have voiced serious opposition to the project and resolutions about it in the House and Senate.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency official Robyn-Lynne Virtue said in the letter dated Wednesday that the agency needed more details to verify Ontario Power Generation’s claims.
“Although the criteria appear adequate and are generally acceptable, it remains unclear how the comparative assessment of the alternate locations demonstrates why one location is preferred over the other,” Virtue wrote in one part of the 15-page attachment filled with information requests.
The project’s final approval was initially delayed in November 2015 by the Canadian federal government.
“There is growing opposition, both in the U.S. and Canada, to this dangerous nuclear waste site, and the public pressure is being heard loud and clear,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, in a statement. “The Canadian government’s decision to request more information from Ontario Power Generation, including on alternative sites, is another delay for this dangerous plan. I am hopeful that the Canadian government will reject this site so close to the Great Lakes.”
In January, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency began a “technical review” of additional information regarding more alternative sites that the Ontario Power Generation considered too costly. A letter from the agency was sent on Wednesday to Lise Morton, the vice president of nuclear waste management for the Ontario Power Generation.
Government-owned Ontario Power Generation said alternate sites for the waste storage increase environmental impacts as well as costs.
For roughly a dozen years, the utility has pursued approval to bury low-level to-mid-level radioactive wastes deep underground.
But in February, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna called on the utility to provide additional data, including research on alternate locations.