Stabenow, Peters, Kildee, James Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Resolution Opposing Canadian Permanent Nuclear Storage Site Near Great Lakes

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

WASHINGTON— Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), along with Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-08) and Congressman John James (MI-10), today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, opposing Canada’s plan to build a permanent nuclear waste storage site in the Great Lakes basin.


The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a non-profit created by the Canadian government, has unveiled plans to build a facility that would permanently store more than 50,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in South Bruce, Ontario, located in the Great Lakes basin. High-level nuclear waste is the most dangerous form of nuclear waste and remains hazardous for tens of thousands of years. An accident involving radioactive waste near the Great Lakes would have devastating and long-term consequences for the health of Michigan and all other people who depend on the Great Lakes for their livelihood.


The U.S. and Canada have historically worked together to prevent the permanent storage of nuclear waste in their shared water basins. In the 1980s, when the U.S. was exploring several potential domestic sites to permanently store nuclear waste, then-Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Minister for External Affairs Joe Clark expressed serious opposition to sites located in or near shared water basins, including in the Great Lakes basin. Ultimately, the U.S. decided not to pursue these contentious sites.


The bicameral resolution tells President Biden and his administration to work with the Canadian government to ensure nuclear waste is not permanently stored in the Great Lakes basin.


“Placing a nuclear waste facility next to one of the world’s largest supplies of fresh water makes absolutely no sense and is dangerous. Our Great Lakes are central to our Michigan way of life, and any nuclear waste spill would be devastating. I strongly urge our Canadian neighbors to make the right choice and stop any plans to store nuclear waste so close to the Great Lakes,” said Senator Stabenow.


“Hazardous nuclear waste should not be stored anywhere near the Great Lakes,” said Senator Peters. “The Great Lakes are an economic and ecological treasure that provide drinking water to millions of Americans – any potential accident could be catastrophic. To protect the health and well-being of Michiganders, I strongly oppose this proposal from the Canadian government and continue to urge them to reconsider.”


“Permanently storing highly radioactive waste so close to the Great Lakes does not make sense. The Great Lakes are central to our way of life. Storing hazardous nuclear waste in our shared waterways threatens the drinking water of millions of people in the United States and Canada and jeopardizes jobs in the fishing, boating and tourism industries,” said Congressman Kildee. “I urge President Biden to address Canada’s plan to permanently bury nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin as he meets with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. Canada and the United States must continue working together to protect the Great Lakes.”


“As Michiganders, we are defined by the Great Lakes and we will be remembered by how we stood up for these waters that hold 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water,” said Tim Minotas, legislative and political coordinator for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Storing nuclear waste within the Great Lakes Basin would pose a substantial unnecessary threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem, our drinking water, and the regional economy, which is why we must do all that we can to prevent this from happening.”


“Over 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for clean drinking water. The Great Lakes generate over $82 billion in economic activity annually and support over a million good-paying jobs. A nuclear waste spill would spell disaster for our economy, the health of millions, and our way of life. The Great Lakes are absolutely the wrong place to build a nuclear waste repository,” said Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation. “Thank you to Congressman Kildee and Senator Stabenow for protecting these precious natural resources from the threats posed by burying nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin.”