Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today expressed new concerns with an underground nuclear waste storage site being proposed in Ontario -- less than a mile from the Great Lakes -- after it was reported today that an accident at a similar permanent nuclear waste facility in New Mexico exposed at least 13 people to radiation.
"These nuclear waste storage sites, although often said to be impenetrable, are not perfect, as this radiation leak shows. I continue to have great concerns with locating a similar nuclear waste site less than a mile from Lake Huron in Ontario," Congressman Kildee said. "Storing nuclear waste so dangerously close to the Great Lakes is just too much of a risk to take. Michigan and our shared water basin with Canada would be forever changed if a nuclear radiation leak were to happen. Such contamination would also have a drastic effect on the livelihood and well-being of both Michiganders and Canadians."
Sensors at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, located in southeastern New Mexico, detected excessive amounts of radioactive particles on February 14th. While initial reports said that no people above ground were exposed to radiation, new analyses released late yesterday show that at least 13 workers at the plant were exposed, the U.S. Department of Energy now says. Further tests are underway to determine the extent of the exposure.
A Canadian energy corporation, Ontario Power Generation, has proposed storing 52 million tons of radioactive waste underground in Kincardine, Ontario, less than a mile from the Great Lakes. The plans include burying nuclear waste 2,200 feet underground that would remain radioactive for over 100,000 years.
Congressman Kildee has previously expressed concerns about the proposed nuclear waste site, writing a letter to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, along with other members of Michigan's congressional delegation, asking them to consider alternative locations for the permanent site. Since the letter, Congressman Kildee's office has also met with officials from the Canadian Embassy to further express concern and advocate for an alternative site that doesn't pose such a threat.
A growing number of cities and municipalities -- both in Canada and Michigan -- have passed resolutions in recent months opposing the proposed permanent nuclear waste site in Kincardine.
"Whether it is our efforts to preserve water levels in the lakes, preventing Asian carp from entering them or keeping it free of waste and nuclear contamination, we must preserve our freshwater resources," Congressman Kildee said recently in a November opinion editorial.