Island official among 104 Great Lakes mayors opposed to nuclear waste burial at Kincardine

MANITOULIN—The Mayor of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) is among 104 Great Lakes mayors and elected officials united against the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) nuclear waste burial proposal near Kincardine, Ontario.

“I think from council’s perspective, and a lot of other municipalities and First Nations, it is too risky having the nuclear waste burial site that close to the Great Lakes,” stated Al MacNevin, mayor of NEMI, last Friday. “This is our source of fresh water.”

In a show of unprecedented united opposition, 104 Great Lakes mayors and elected officials have signed an open letter delivered to Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, calling on her to reject OP’s plan to bury nuclear waste on the shores of the Great Lakes. These 104 mayors and officials represent the millions of people in the cities and towns surrounding the Great Lakes, including those in Ontario, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. This illustrates the growing opposition, both domestically and internationally, to this scheme.

Reminding the minister of the critical importance of the Great Lakes to both Canada and the United States, the letter also characterizes OPG’s failure to investigate any other actual sites for its proposed nuclear waste DGR as irresponsible. The letter sends a loud and clear message to Minister McKenna that Great Lakes communities are united and opposed to OPG’s DGR.

“It is remarkable to see the over 100 Great Lakes community leaders putting their voices together to say that this DGR plan is unacceptable,” said Beverly Fernandez, spokesperson for Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump. “They are speaking with courage and common sense for the present and future of their communities. Their message is clear. The communities don’t want the risk of a nuclear waste DGR beside their fresh water. It’s simply unacceptable.”

“This letter obviously refutes OPG’s claims that its proposed DGR is not an area of concern among the general population. Adding to the 104 mayoral and official signatures on the letter, there are 230 resolutions passed by local, county and state governments, representing over 23 million people, all opposing a DGR anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin. I’d say that’s a lot of concern,” said Ms. Fernandez.

“The plan to put a nuclear repository on the shores of Lake Huron by OPG is playing Russian Roulette with the safety and water quality of 40 million Canadians and Americans,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. “The Trudeau government has a chance to show international environmental leadership by saying “no” to the OPG Repository. This and future generations will be eternally grateful.”

“Clean, safe drinking water is a basic right and a necessity to all people,” said Karen Weaver, mayor of Flint, Michigan. “The Flint water crisis was started by government decisions made to save money. Leaders must do what we can to protect public health. And those at the table making important decisions must learn from what happened in Flint and do everything in their power to prevent it from happening elsewhere.”

In the letter to Ms. McKenna, the Great Lakes Mayors state in part, “we are writing to you in connection with the interests and concerns of our constituents, millions of people living in cities, towns, municipalities, villages and counties surrounding the

Great Lakes.”

“We are deeply concerned that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is proposing to bury nuclear waste in close proximity to the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are critically important resources to both Canada and the United States and supply drinking water to forty million people including to the citizens we represent. The Great Lakes support fishing, boating, recreation, tourism and agriculture and are the life-blood  of a six-trillion dollar Great Lakes region economy,” the letter reads. “We find it irresponsible and deeply troubling that OPG failed and continues to refuse to investigate any other actual sites for its proposed nuclear waste repository (DGR) despite being required to do so under regulatory guidelines and further as required by you in your February 18, 2016 request.”

“We are completely mystified by OPG claims that its proposed DGR  is, “not an area of concern among the general population” in the face of 187 resolutions having been passed by local, county and state governments representing over 23 million people opposing the construction of a DGR anywhere in the Great Lakes Basin. It is plain to see that OPG’s claims do not square with the facts.”

“Madame Minister, we the undersigned request that you act to protect North America’s most precious resource and the health and safety of the millions of people who rely on your leadership by rejecting OPG’s application for its DGR in

Kincardine, Ontario.”

The OPG project, estimated to cost $2.4 billion and growing, would see a bunker built at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, close to the Lake Huron shoreline. Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of low and intermediate radioactive waste-stored for years at the site above ground-would be buried 680 meters deep.