Unknown to most Americans, our neighbor to the north the province of Ontario is recognized as one of the most nuclearized regions on the planet. Three industrial utility nuclear plants are operating in Ontario.
Two are near Lake Ontario at Pickering and Darlington. However, the behemoth nuclear plant rest on the shores of Lake Huron in Bruce County. A mere 67 miles away from Port Austin on Lake Huron. Sixty percent of the electricity in the province is produced by nuclear power. When producing all that power, the nuclear waste from those plants has to be stored somewhere.
First: Store Low-Level Nuclear Waste
In 2015, plans were introduced in Canada to create a Low-Level radioactive waste site in Ontario. Ontario Power proposed to bury 200,000 cubic meters of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste from its nuclear power plants in a thick layer of limestone 680 meters below ground, about a kilometer from Lake Huron. The company said the rock is so solid and stable it will contain any possible leakage of harmful radioactivity.
The Deep Geological Repository Project is a proposal by Ontario Power Generation for the site preparation, construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment of a deep geological radioactive waste disposal facility for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The site is proposed to be constructed 1.2 kilometers from Lake Huron. The Great Lakes is a drinking source for more than 40 million people in Canada and the United States
The site is near the Bruce nuclear plant, a mere 70 miles away from Michigan’s Thumb, low and intermediate level wastes are stacking up in above-ground storage. Low-level includes worker clothing and tools. Typically, they could be radioactive for 100 years. Intermediate-level waste which includes filters, reactor parts, and resins, could be a hazard for 100,000 years.
The site will be utilized and filled with low-level waste for a period of about 60 years. Once full the site will be prepared for abandonment….forever.
Second: Where to Put Spent Nuclear Fuel
In 2005, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was tasked with coming up with a long-range plan for Canada’s used nuclear fuel. This would have to store high-level radioactive used fuel that is piling up, at the three big Ontario plants. It may be toxic for over a million years. The project was estimated to cost over $23 billion dollars.
Ultimately the NWMO recommended a proposal to contain all the country’s used fuel in one deep geological repository. This would mean a second nuclear waste dump in Ontario. The facility would have to have the capacity to store 57,000 tons of used nuclear fuel. That’s the equivalent of three million used fuel bundles that would fit into eight hockey rinks up to the top of the boards.
Since 2017 the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has been searching for a suitable site for spent nuclear fuel. There are 5 communities remaining in out of 22 original communities – 19 in Ontario, 3 in Saskatchewan.
The site under consideration for the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel is also in the same area as the low-level waste dump. Huron-Kinloss township in Ontario is one of the five finalists.
This topic is far from over.
Sources about Ontario Nuclear Waste
- Canada’s nuclear waste to be buried in a deep underground repository
- Maple Leaf Logo from Denelson83 at Wikimedia Commons. Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
- Nuclear Waste Management Organization
- Ontario Power Generation: Deep Geologic Repository
Related Reading and Exploring
- Canada Feds “OK” Proposed Nuclear Waste Site near Lake Huron
- Ontario Proposed Radioactive Nuclear Waste to be Buried next to Lake Huron
- Canada Nuclear Waste Near Lake Huron
- The Planned Demise of Michigans Commercial Fishing
- Canadian Government Confirms the Site of Potential Nuclear Waste Dump Near Lake Huron