October 30, 2002
Nuclear Waste Issues Heating Up Great Lakes Interest
Clock Starts Ticking on Canada’s Nuclear Waste Disposal Decision as
U.S. Senators Express Concern to Colin Powell
INVERHURON, Ontario — In just over two weeks, the clock will officially start on a three year
race to find a location and a means for permanent disposal of Canada’s ever growing piles of
high-level nuclear fuel waste. The law which set the three-year time period quietly received
Royal Assent last June and comes into force November 15, 2002.
Under the new legislation, “An Act Respecting the Long Term Management of Nuclear Fuel Waste,”
a new organization comprised of industry representatives has been charged with providing the
federal government with recommendations for permanent disposal within three years. Elizabeth
Dowdeswell, a former senior official in Ottawa and at the United Nations, was named last week
to the top post of the newly created “Waste Management Organization” as its president.
The new legislation comes on the heels of a recent (October 17) letter from Michigan Senators
Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing concern over
expanded high-level waste storage at the Bruce nuclear complex, some 50 miles across Lake Huron
from Michigan. Stabenow and Levin, who is also chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services
Committee, urged Powell to intercede with the Canadian government. Among other concerns, they
cited security and safety issues “of such a high profile and large facility,” given its
proximity to both Michigan and the Great Lakes, which supply millions of homes with drinking
water. Noting “nearly a century of bi-national decision making regarding the stewardship of
the Great Lakes,” they called for the plan to be reviewed.
Read the text of the letter: http://www.friendsofbruce.ca
The above ground storage area at the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) on the Bruce
complex site is designed to house up to 2,000 dry storage casks holding 18,000 tons of
high-level waste. That is the amount already sitting in the almost full cooling pools at the
reactor buildings, waiting to be moved to the new above ground storage area. It is projected
that the Bruce site, described as the largest nuclear complex in the world, will generate an
additional 18,000 tons of high-level waste over its lifetime. The total of 36,000 tons would
be almost half that slated to be stored at the controversial Yucca Mountain site, the United
States’ proposed central repository for its high-level waste.
Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) representatives officially opened the new high-level
storage addition in a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month.
The last piece of paperwork fell into place a week ago in a decision released by the Canadian
Nuclear Safety Commission, Canada’s nuclear regulator. It designated the WWMF as a “nuclear
installation” under Canada’s Nuclear Liability Act. Under the Act, Ontario Power Generation
(OPG), as the operator of the WWMF, has a maximum liability exposure of $75 million Cdn. in the
event of a major accident or terrorist attack. In releasing its decision, the Commission also
set the amount of basic insurance to be maintained for the WWMF by OPG at $6 million Cdn.
Read the CNSC release at:
Meanwhile, local area officials, including Mayor Larry Kraemer of Kincardine, launched last
Saturday on a week-long fact finding junket to Europe to compare the relationship other nuclear
host cities and towns have with nuclear waste facilities. The junket is being paid for by
Ontario Power Generation.