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Congressman Dave Trott

Representing the 11th District of Michigan

Michigan Delegation Urges SOS Tillerson to Use "Diplomatic and Legal" Action Against Great Lakes Nuclear Waste Repository

June 7, 2017
Press Release
Trott, Dingell lead over 30 Members in letter to Secretary of State Tillerson urging him to push back - using any avenue - against Canada’s OPG proposed nuclear waste repository

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representative Dave Trott (MI-11) and Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12), led the Michigan delegation, and other Members of Congress representing the Great Lakes region in sending a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson underscoring their opposition to Ontario Power Generation’s proposed nuclear waste repository one mile from the shores of Lake Huron.

The letter, which represents the strongest bipartisan opposition to the plan yet, comes after Ontario Power Generation (OPG) submitted a 145-page document to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency doubling down on its proposal to bury nuclear waste at the Bruce Power Complex less than a mile from Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario.

“Representing one-fifth of the world’s freshwater supply, the Great Lakes are one of the most critical and sensitive ecosystems in the world. Since its proposal, I have been extremely alarmed by Ontario Power Generation’s plan to bury nuclear waste within one mile of the magnificent shores of Lake Huron,” said Rep. Trott. “Today, I, Rep. Debbie Dingell, and many other concerned Members from the Great Lakes region, implored Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to do everything in his power - diplomatic and legal - to protect our Great Lakes. Inaction is too high a price to pay.”

“The Great Lakes account for 20 percent of the world’s freshwater supply and are absolutely critical for millions of Americans who rely on them for clean drinking water, jobs and their way of life,” Rep. Dingell said. “Any spill in this area would be catastrophic for the entire region, and no barrier or wall would be able to contain it. As I told Prime Minister Trudeau last year, we never want to see nuclear waste in the Great Lakes. OPG has identified other locations outside the Great Lakes basin that would be technically feasible and those options must be pursued. Protecting this precious resource at any cost should be a top priority.”

In the letter, the Representatives write, “With the release of this report, it is our strong belief that OPG has doubled down on the Bruce Power Complex proposal for two inconvenient facts for the company:  that they believe an alternative site would be more expensive and take longer to construct. 

“We cannot let cost be the sole driving factor in this critical decision, as storing nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin bears far too great a risk that would be fundamentally devastating to an entire region. Any contamination whatsoever would pose disastrous repercussions as all of the lakes are connected to one another, and no barrier, man-made or natural, would be able to stop a potential catastrophe of epic proportions.”

A PDF of the signed letter is available here.

Full text of the letter is as follows:

Secretary Rex Tillerson
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

For some time, a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress from the states bordering the Great Lakes have expressed our strong concerns to a proposal by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to construct a deep geologic repository for nuclear waste (DGR) less than one mile from the Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario. 

Nearly one tenth of the U.S. population lives in the Great Lakes basin, and more than 35 million people, approximately 24 million Americans, rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, jobs, and their way of life.  In fact, the Great Lakes account for more than 20 percent of the world’s freshwater supply.  Given the extraordinary importance of this precious resource, we, along with many of our colleagues, have repeatedly emphasized our opposition to permanently burying nuclear waste within the Great Lakes basin.

Shortly after President Trump’s election, OPG released a study on potential alternate locations for the DGR.  In that report, OPG recognized that there are other viable locations to store nuclear waste in Ontario that would be technically feasible, and we have asked the Canadian government to require OPG to select a site that is outside the Great Lakes basin.

Despite OPG’s initial report that contained false claims based on social media and internet activity to demonstrate “little public interest among the general public for the proposed DGR in Kincardine, 186 local, county, and state governments representing 23 million constituents in both the United States and Canada have passed resolutions explicitly opposing OPG’s proposal.

This week, in response to questions raised by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, OPG released a 145 page document answering 23 questions to support its DGP proposal for the Bruce Power Complex in Kincardine.  After reading this report, it is our strong belief that this new report from OPG doubles down on the proposal behind two inconvenient facts for the company they believe an alternative site would be more expensive and a new site would take longer to construct. 

We cannot let cost be the sole driving factor in this critical decision, as storing nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin bears far too great a risk that would be fundamentally devastating to an entire region. Any contamination whatsoever would pose disastrous repercussions as all of the lakes are connected to one another, and no barrier, man-made or natural, would be able to stop a potential catastrophe of epic proportions.

We write to urge you to do everything in your power – through both diplomatic and legal channels – to protect our Great Lakes and to convince the Canadian government to require OPG to select an alternative site that will not place the health, safety, and economic security of Americans at risk.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We stand ready to partner with you in any way can to make sure the Great Lakes are preserved for generations of Americans to come.

List of signatories:

Dave Trott (MI-11)

Debbie Dingell (MI-12)

Jack Bergman (MI-01)

Mike Bishop (MI-08)

John Conyers (MI-13)

Sean Duffy (WI-07)

Keith Ellison (MN-05)

Marcia Fudge (OH-11)

Mike Gallagher (WI-08)

Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04)

Brian Higgins (NY-26)

Bill Huizenga (MI-02)

David Joyce (OH-14)

Marcy Kaptur (OH-9)

Dan Kildee (MI-05)

Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08)

Brenda Lawrence (MI-14)

Sandy Levin (MI-09)

Dan Lipinski (IL-03)

Betty McCollum (MN-04)

Paul Mitchell (MI-10)

John Moolenaar (MI-04)

Gwen Moore (WI-04)

Rick Nolan (MN-08)

Mark Pocan (WI-02)

Jim Renacci (OH-16)

Tim Ryan (OH-13)

Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

Louise Slaughter (NY-25)

Fred Upton (MI-06)

Tim Walberg (MI-07)

Jackie Walorski (IN-02)