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As many of you know, the low-to-mid level nuclear waste facility that was to be located adjacent to the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant in Kincardine Ontario was a proposal that we at GLEA have been following very closely. In fact, it is the environmental threat that brought the founding members of our beloved organization together in the first place! This grave threat to the natural resources on which we are all dependent made us realize that the Great Lakes Basin needed a much larger and louder environmental voice. Today, we have a reason to celebrate, as the proposed low-to-mid level Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) along the shores of Lake Huron has been officially denied thanks to a resounding "No" vote from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON). While Ontario Power Generation has stated that it will continue to look for alternate sites to build a deep geologic repository for its low and intermediate level waste and is in fact proposing a HIGH level nuclear waste DGR very close to the low-to-mid level site, we think it is important to take a moment to celebrate this victory for the 40 million people who get their drinking water from the Great Lakes and the countless other lives that would have been affected by the environmental impact of the proposed facility.

GLEA would like to offer a HUGE thank you to the SON community for their strength and integrity in voting no on this proposal, and halting the DGR in its tracks. The people of many nations are breathing a huge sigh of relief today because of your actions. Additionally, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the countless other individuals that called and wrote their legislators, helped raise the alarm through talking and sharing with others, and who participated in awareness marches or with any of the other municipalities and 100+ environmental groups that worked together to oppose this facility. I know that many of us met people from our communities that said we could "never make a difference," but you carried on anyway, and here we are - celebrating this proposal's demise. THANK YOU to each and every individual and organization that made this day possible. 

 

To oppose this nuclear waste dump proposal:

○     Over 100,000 petition signatures were delivered to Canada's Climate Change Minister

○     Over 100 environmental groups affixed their name to a letter opposing the proposed low-to-intermediate waste facility

○     232 Resolutions were passed by Great Lakes Communities

○     Americans and Canadians alike contacted their elected representatives via phone, post, and email to oppose the plan

○     Many citizens engaged in awareness marches, rallies and other actions to help sound the alarm and get other citizens engaged on the issue

○     Journalists, blog and newsletter writers helped spread the word and increase community engagement

○     Speakers on the danger of nuclear waste were invited to speak at events across the Great Lakes Basin to help communities understand the threat

...and took many other actions! All these and more will be needed as we move forward with our fight to stop the newly proposed high-level nuclear waste dump which would also sit on the shores of Lake Huron. Keep up the good work! We've seen that good people can raise their voices against a corporation and win on this issue!

 

If you are new to this issue, and wonder why we opposed this and any Deep Geologic Repositories for nuclear waste in the future, here are just a few reasons a DGR is a terrible idea:

 

•     Of THREE deep geologic repositories that have been built to date, ALL THREE have failed within the first TEN years. Keep in mind, these structures are supposed to be impenetrable and able to withstand all types of calamities for many millions of years. If you're asking yourself how something that is supposed to "be safe" for millions of years has a 0 for 3 track record of reaching even the TEN year mark - you're not alone. They simply don't live up to the promises made by the companies proposing these dumps. They are not safe.

 •     WHEN a DGR fails, it may be a long time before anyone notices, and it is very difficult, dangerous, and expensive to control, contain, and stop leaks - even if they are detected in a timely manner.

•     Of course, you can only control, contain, and stop the leak if you know about it! Ontario Power Generation's plan was to "bury and forget." There was no long-term oversight planned, and indeed, how can one guarantee good stewardship of the site out to the millions of years mark? "Bury and forget" leaves future generations vulnerable to dangerous, destructive, radioactive pollutants with the potential of causing SIGNIFICANT health and environmental damage, and makes it less likely that those future populations will be able to identify and respond to the threat in a timely manner. 

•     While Ontario Power Generation has stated that it is looking only for a "low and intermediate" level waste facility location, it is important to look at the company's long term goals, which include finding a site for the storage of their high-level waste. The search for a high-level facility location has been going on for years and has not been fruitful as various communities have turned them away and chose to focus on human and environmental health instead. There is a potential tactical move at play that environmentally-minded individuals should be aware of however. While the process to build a NEW waste storage facility requires much environmental testing, is expensive, has long public comment periods, and many permits, the process to CHANGE THE CLASSIFICATION of a waste storage facility involves significantly smaller sums and is granted via a closed-door committee meeting with industry regulators. There is NO PUBLIC INPUT into this process and no chance for the public to voice their concerns.

•     It is worth remembering that the Great Lakes themselves were created by glacier movement "only" 10,000 years ago (the pyramids only 5,000 years ago!) and that the entire existence of the Great Lakes themselves represents only a small fraction of the time that some of these materials will be an active danger to life. It is simply fool hardy to think that we can control or even predict what hydrologic and geologic forces will do over that time with the accuracy that would be required to truly ensure an underground repository was "safe." This is an especially unbelievable claim when we consider that the United States has been CREATING nuclear waste for almost 80 years, and globally, the best solution anyone has come up with for handling this extremely dangerous waste is to bury it, forget it, and hope nothing bad happens. Truly, we need to stop creating this waste until we develop an actual, safe solution for it's disposal. Anything else is wildly irresponsible.

We will continue this fight with our focus on the new High-level Deep Geologic Repository proposed on the shores of Lake Huron, but let's take a moment to appreciate all we have accomplished together to end the threat of one DGR proposal, and let it give us energy and hope as we move forward on this new front.

 

Read more about the new, High-level DGR proposal here  

 

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