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Nuclear drinking water threat


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05/04/2015 - Plans by a Canadian power utility to bury nuclear waste along the eastern shore of Lake Huron has raised concerns about the possibility that radioactive materials could enter the Great Lakes and contaminate the world's largest source of freshwater and the drinking supply for about 40 million people, including those in southeast Michigan and the majority of the residents in Oakland County.

Located in Kincardine, Ontario, about 120 miles northeast of Detroit, the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is a 2,300-acre facility that serves as the world's largest nuclear power station, housing a total of eight nuclear reactors. Bruce Power, a privately held Canadian company, holds a long-term lease with Ontario Power Generation, which is wholly-owned by the Ontario government to operate the plant. Radioactive nuclear waste produced at the station has been kept in above-ground storage buildings at the site's Western Waste Management facility for more than four decades. Now, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is planning to construct a deep geological repository to store the waste about a half-mile from the shores of Lake Huron, about 40 miles across the lake to the Michigan shoreline, near Port Hope.

Plans for the underground storage site include digging nearly a half-mile below the surface into layers of limestone and shale within the area known as the Bruce Peninsula. Low-level and intermediate-level radioactive wastes from the Bruce power plant and other nuclear reactors owned by Ontario Power Generation would be stored in the proposed repository for thousands of years. The plan is currently being reviewed by a joint review panel under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. If approved, the facility would store up to 52 million gallons of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste less than a half-mile from Lake Huron.

Low-level waste consists of materials such as mop heads, rags, paper towel and protective clothing used in nuclear stations during routine operation and maintenance. Intermediate-level waste consists of reactor parts and equipment, resins, filters used to purify reactor water systems, and other components. Used nuclear fuel wouldn't be stored or managed at the underground repository. While used reactor fuel from the Bruce station also is stored at the current site, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which serves as a consultant to the proposed project, is seeking a separate site in Canada for a permanent repository for the used fuel from all of Canada's nuclear reactors.



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Tags: LONGFORM

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