Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
HAVE YOUR DONATION DOUBLED!

If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lake Huron Radioactive Waste Dump Should be Rejected

by

Maybe vampire fables are just metaphors for bad ideas that are hard to kill.

The proposed Deep Geological Repository for radioactive waste being considered by Canada’s Joint Review Panel is such a bad idea that even pro-nuclear Republican US senators like Illinois’ Mark Kirk are against it. Still, it’s not dead yet.

The Southgate Michigan News-Herald reported last Sept. that “some of the waste is highly radioactive and much of it will remain toxic for more than 100,000 years. The proposed site is less than a mile inland from the shore of Lake Huron and about 440 yards below the lake level. It is approximately 120 miles upstream from the main drinking water intakes for southeastern Michigan.”

The language is from a Michigan state senate resolution against the dump which passed last year. Now the US Senate has taken up the fight in a similar bill introduced by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and co-sponsored by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Kirk, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Dozens of cities along the Great Lakes, Duluth included, have formally opposed the craziness of burying leaky tins of radiation in a watershed that serves H2O to 40 million people. Dave Herndon, writing for the News-Herald reported this zinger. The Canadian government itself expressed identical complaints about radioactive waste in the 1980s. Back then, when the Energy Department surveyed sites for a waste dump in the US, Canada explicitly protested. Canada’s resolution urges US officials to prevent such a dump from being built within the Great Lakes Basin.

Ontario’s Joint Review Panel will make a recommendation to the federal government after studying the pros and cons. It has held two sets of formal hearings, and plenty of highly critical testimony is in the record. Not the least is that of former Ontario Power Generation scientist Frank Greening. OPG is the radioactive waste producer promoting the dump, and Greening worked for the company for 22 years.

Waster Generator’s “Cavalier attitude” Toward Radiation

A PhD in chemistry, Greening testified this past September that OPG has adopted a “cavalier attitude” toward the long-lived hazards of radioactive wastes.

(I said likewise in 2013 when I testified that one particularly whimsical flyer from OPG said, “…even if the entire waste volume were to be dissolved into Lake Huron, the corresponding drinking water dose would be a factor of 100 below the regulatory criteria initially, and decreasing with time.” This quip refers to 200,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste in over 50,000 containers.)

As evidence of his attack on OPG’s proposal, Dr. Greening noted that the company estimated what radioactive materials, and in what proportions, would be in the waste — instead of taking samples. “Estimating is cheaper,” Greening told the panel on Sept. 10. “OPG has chosen to skimp on the costs of properly characterizing these piles of radioactive waste, perhaps because the analysis of just one sample costs over a thousand dollars,” Greening said.

After Greening pointed out OPG’s gross mistakes, OPG said that errors resulted from its use of “available data” in 2010.

“This is simply not true,” Greening charged. “OPG did not use available data, but used fabricated data instead.”

Last April, Greening reported that materials to be placed in dump are hundreds of times more radioactive than the company reported to the panel.
Greening’s report devastated the company’s (OPG’s) shoddy analysis. “You got these numbers wrong up front for when you put these materials in the ground,” he said. “Perhaps your numbers can’t be trusted on what happens if any of this is released back aboveground. Why would I trust your numbers now?” With one type of radioactive material, cesium-137, OPG’s numbers “are 1,000 times lower” than the actual radioactivity level, Greening said.
Of course if the vampire has friends in high places, even well placed wooden stakes, holy water and crucifixes will miss their mark. Replying to Greening’s crucial testimony, JRP Chair Stella Swanson warned that some of the material he presented was “new to the panel,” and as such contrary to its rules. Information was supposed to be given to the JRP in advance of the formal hearing.

Swanson said the panel will rule later on whether all Greening’s information would be accepted.

Louder and more robust objections to OPG’s Lake Huron dump need to be organized if Canadian authorities are to do the right thing. Michigan’s Senator Stabenow made a start when she told the press, “Canada’s proposed nuclear waste dump … puts our Great Lakes at risk of radioactive contamination that could have devastating consequences for future generations. I have expressed my strong objections to the Canadian government directly, and (this) resolution puts additional pressure on the Canadians to stop this plan.”

John LaForge works for Nukewatch and lives on the Plowshares Land Trust near Luck, Wisc.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

October 19, 2017
Farhang Jahanpour
Europe Must Stop Trump From Starting Another War in the Middle East
John W. Whitehead
The Experiment in Freedom is Failing
Karen Hicks
Make Big Pharma Pay for the Opioid Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Why the Palestinian Unity Deal Might Not Change Much
Lawrence Davidson
A State for the Kurds?
Joseph Grosso
Guns, Drugs, and Suicide: Death in America
John Eskow
Witch Hunt TV: You Can Trust MSNBC, Really….
Desiree Hellegers
“Unnatural Causes”: Health Takes a Hit in Portland, Oregon
Binoy Kampmark
Vengeful in Defeat: Hillary Clinton Fantasizes About WikiLeaks
Robert Fisk
ISIS Has Lost Raqqa, Where Will It Go Next?
Pepe Escobar
Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran
Jenny Clegg
Will the US and China Go to War?
George Ochenski
Seduced by Greed: the Perils of Environmental Collaboration
Phyllis Bennis
Decertifying the Iran Deal: Trump’s Most Reckless Move?
Arnold Oliver
Bring Back Armistice Day and Honor the Real Heroes
Kim C. Domenico
In Search of Moral Energy in the Neoliberal Wasteland: a Preferential Option for the Poor Soul
October 18, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
Seizing Kirkuk
John Wight
Weinstein as Symptom: Notes From Hollywood
Matthew Hoh
Bowe Bergdahl: Traitor to American Exceptionalism and White Supremacy
Chris Ernesto
Funding for War vs. Natural Disasters
Aidan O'Brien
Where’s Duterte From and Where’s He Going To?
Jon Bailes
Mental Health and Neoliberalism: an Interview with William Davies
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Reason Behind Trump’s Angry Diplomacy in North Korea
Paul Craig Roberts
Washington, Not China, is the Biggest Threat to American Power
Binoy Kampmark
Trump’s Iran Deal
Lara Merling
Remember Puerto Rico Needs Fair Medicaid Funding Too
Phil Rockstroh
2 or 3 Things I Know About Capitalism
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain
Rambo Wept: Our Commandos Good, Your Terrorists Bad
Dimitris Bellantis
On Catalonia: Debates in the Greek Left
Robert Koehler
The Calm Before the Storm
Mike Hastie
Napalm Sticks to Kids
October 17, 2017
Suzanne Gordon – Ian Hoffmann
Trumpcare for Veterans? VA Outsourcing Will Create Healthcare Industry Bonanza
Patrick Cockburn
The Real Destabilizer in the Middle East is Not Iran But Trump
Jonathan Cook
The Real Reasons Trump is Quitting UNESCO
Murtaza Shibli
My Friend From ISIS in Raqqa
Kathy Kelly
Wrongful Rhetoric and Trump’s Strategy on Iran
David Bonner
Beyond Taking a Knee: Duane Thomas, Where are You When We Need You?
Tom Gill
Austerity, Macron-Style
Liaquat Ali Khan
Pakistan Faces a Life-Threatening Military Coup
Jeff Mackler
Is Trump a ‘Moron?’
Amena Elashkar
If You Work for Justice in Palestine, Why Won’t You Let Palestinians Speak?
John Feffer
Trump’s Unprecedented Right-Turn on Foreign Policy
Ariel Dorfman
Trump’s War on the Mind
Dean Baker
The Republican Tax Plan to Slow Growth
Gerry Brown
The Return of One-Man Rule in China?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail