TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A group of Michigan legislators announced measures Monday that would increase pressure on Canada not to let a power company bury waste from nuclear plants less than a mile from Lake Huron.
Included in the legislative package to be introduced this week are resolutions seeking intervention by the International Joint Commission, which advises both nations on issues involving the Great Lakes and other boundary waters, and the Great Lakes Commission, an agency representing the eight states and two Canadian provinces within the watershed.
Neither could veto the plan by Ontario Power Generation to entomb radioactive waste in rock chambers 2,230 feet below the earth's surface near Kincardine, Ontario — unless both federal governments ask the IJC for a binding opinion. Otherwise, Canada has the final say. But the two commissions could turn up the political heat.
"We have to throw everything we can in the path of this effort," said state Sen. Phil Pavlov of St. Clair Township, the chief sponsor.
He and four other Republicans from districts near Lake Huron also are offering bills to toughen Michigan's prohibition of permanent nuclear waste disposal in the state by including "Class C" waste — the most potent form of low-level radioactive material — in the ban. Low-level waste consists of contaminated clothing, floor sweepings, mops and other items, as opposed to highly radioactive spent fuel rods.
Another bill would establish an advisory board to examine any potential effects of the proposed Ontario facility from the standpoints of public health, natural resources, archaeology and history.
Several members of Michigan's congressional delegation, including Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, have asked the Obama administration for help in blocking the storage proposal.
The facility would be for low-level waste and "intermediate waste," or discarded parts from the reactor core.
Messages seeking comment were left with a spokesman for Ontario Power Generation, a publicly owned company that produces one-fourth of the electricity generated in Canada's most heavily populated province. The company has said previously that extensive study shows the underground storage plan is sound. It says there is virtually no chance that radioactivity will find its way to the lake — something critics dispute.
A review panel conducted public hearings last fall and says it will schedule others to examine new information from the company before making a recommendation to the Canadian government.
Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office, endorsed Pavlov's measures and said burying nuclear waste so close to Lake Huron was "a shockingly bad idea."
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