Pavlov: Canadian panel’s decision to approve nuclear waste dump a staggering mistake

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Phil Pavlov responded with shock and disappointment after Canada’s Deep Geologic Repository Joint Review Panel (JRP) announced Wednesday it has recommended the construction of a permanent Canadian nuclear waste repository on the shores of Lake Huron.

“It is extremely troubling that the Joint Review Panel finds it acceptable to bury 7 million cubic feet of radioactive waste less than one mile from the shore of Lake Huron, threatening the health of the entire Great Lakes region,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “More than 75 Michigan communities, along with local government agencies in other U.S. states and Canada, passed official resolutions opposing this project, but this unelected panel has turned a deaf ear.”

The JRP has sent a report of their recommendations to Canadian Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq. Aglukkaq has four months to study the report before deciding whether to approve it.

“In the 1980s, Canadian officials were rightly concerned about possible nuclear waste 25 miles from their border. They were right to oppose that project then, and they are tragically wrong to let this waste dump project go forward now,” Pavlov said.

In 1986, Canada’s secretary of state for external affairs expressed opposition to a potential nuclear waste site in Maine. Last September, Pavlov addressed members of the Joint Review Panel and asked them to adhere to the standard their own government set for nuclear waste storage in 1986.

Pavlov sponsored measures last year designed to halt construction of the Kincardine, Ontario facility while strengthening Michigan’s protection of natural resources against radioactive waste. The Michigan Senate unanimously approved the legislation in June.

Several key conservation groups had registered their support for the legislative package, including Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Michigan Environmental Council, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Sierra Club Michigan and Michigan League of Conservation Voters. In addition, thousands of citizens signed a petition at demanding that President Obama exercise the United States’ international rights to stop the project.

“With today’s decision, the world’s largest supply of fresh water is in peril,” said Pavlov, the vice chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “It is a sad day for Michigan, Canada and every state in the Great Lakes basin.”