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Canadians Embroiled in Debate over Where to Bury Nuclear Waste

nuclear-power-plantThe issue of where to store radioactive nuclear waste has long been of point of contention in the United States. And now it is becoming one in Canada, which also has implications for this country. Ontario Power Generation says that it has submitted studies to its government there that conclude there is no place safer to store such used nuclear material than near Lake Huron.

The Canadian utility submitted its analysis to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which will make a determination in the summer or fall.  According to an AP report, the waste would be buried on the grounds of the Bruce Power Generating Station near Kincardine, Ontario. That the world’s larges nuclear complex, with eight reactors on site.

The radioactive waste would be buried 2,230 feet underground — encased in a limestone foundation that the AP says will be stable for 450 million years.

“The company says there is virtually no chance of radioactive pollution reaching the lake, which is less than a mile away,” the AP reports. It also says that other sites aren’t just further away from where the electricity is being generated — the waste would thus have to travel — but those potential places to bury the waste are even more environmentally sensitive than the Bruce Power site.

Scientists did testify before the Canadian government, saying that the Bruce Power site was safe. Critics, however, are unconvinced, arguing that anytime radioactive waste is buried near a water source, the downside could be enormous.

Here in this country, of course, the debate has been over a permanent storage site: Yucca Mountain, officially killed off by the Obama administration.

However, a blue ribbon commission appointed by the U.S. Department of Energy says that these decisions must be removed from the political realm and put into the hands of those who have the authority to take action. Best idea: Take the nuclear waste from the current interim storage facilities and move it into a series of regional repositories.

Beside the political obstacles, engineers have expressed concerns that some of the spent nuclear material could eventually escape from its encasements and cause damage to ground water supplies in the area.

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