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Senators Stabenow, Levin Urge Secretary Kerry to Protect Great Lakes, Stop Canada from Storing Nuclear Waste Near Lake Huron

Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to engage with the Canadian government and the International Joint Commission to stop a Canadian proposal to store nuclear waste in Ontario, less than one mile from the shores of Lake Huron. Building a nuclear waste site so close to the Great Lakes increases the potential of a spill or contamination, which could devastate our $7 billion dollar fishing industry on the Lakes, hurt the Michigan economy and severely damage environmentally sensitive areas. Michigan law prohibits disposing of low-level nuclear waste within ten miles of the Great Lakes.

The letter reads, in part: "The Great Lakes are a highly valued resource to eight states and two countries. The future health and prosperity of the Great Lakes is an extremely serious matter. We would appreciate a prompt response explaining how you plan to work with the Canadian government and the IJC to ensure that this nuclear waste repository is not built near the shores of Lake Huron."

Senators Stabenow and Levin wrote Secretary Kerry in October 2013, urging him to prevent construction of the nuclear waste dump by engaging the Canadian government and the International Joint Commission, the organization formed by the U.S. and Canada to resolve issues between the nations along shared border waters. His response did not indicate whether he would engage the International Joint Commission in negotiations.

The full text of the letter follows.


The Honorable Secretary Kerry
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520


Dear Secretary Kerry:

We write to strongly urge you to engage with the Canadian government and International Joint Commission (IJC) regarding Ontario Power Generation's proposal to build an underground radioactive nuclear waste repository less than a mile inland from the shores of Lake Huron near Kincardine, Ontario. Michigan law prohibits low-level radioactive nuclear waste from being disposed of within ten miles of the lakes and rivers in the Great Lakes system. Canada should consider similar criteria. Building a nuclear waste repository so close to the Great Lakes has the potential to threaten our $7 billion dollar fishing industry and hurt our economy.

In October 2013, we wrote to you and asked that you engage with the IJC and the Canadian government. Your response did not indicate whether you plan to work with the IJC on this matter. The United States and Canada have a joint responsibility to ensure that the Great Lakes are protected. The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 states that "waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other." In Article IX of the Treaty, Canada and the United States may request the IJC to study and report upon matters concerning waters along common borders. We strongly urge you to work with the Canadian authorities to request that the IJC fully study and evaluate the proposed nuclear waste facility.

The Great Lakes are a highly valued resource to eight states and two countries. The future health and prosperity of the Great Lakes is an extremely serious matter. We would appreciate a prompt response explaining how you plan to work with the Canadian government and the IJC to ensure that this nuclear waste repository is not built near the shores of Lake Huron.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

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