Canada: Widespread opposition to proposed nuclear dump

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

A proposal by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to build a deep geological repository near the Bruce nuclear power plant has been endorsed by a federal Joint Review Panel Report. Opponents have 120 days to file further comment, after which the Environment Minister could authorize the panel to issue a licence to prepare the site for the repository.1

OPG plans to bury as much as 200,000 cubic metres of waste within a thick layer of limestone located 680 metres below ground, barely a kilometre from the shores of Lake Huron. The repository would take waste from the Bruce, Pickering, and Darlington nuclear plants.1

The plan has met with fierce opposition from Traditional Owners. Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee from the Anishinabek Nation said: "The uncertainties and risks are too great for the Anishinabek Nation and Ontario citizens to consider. The Anishinabek Nation passed a resolution, and we have informed governments before, that 'the Anishinabek Nation will stand united and oppose any deep geological nuclear waste repositories within the Anishinabek Nation territory'."1,2

Saugeen Objiway Nation (SON) Chief Vernon Roote said: "If something were to happen with the disposal or the leakage of nuclear waste I wouldn't want to be drinking the water downstream. That means the balance of Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and also anyone drinking from those lakes, even into the US."1,2

"In our community that I represent ... there are no members that are agreeable to the burial at the site at this time," Roote said.3

The site is in the traditional territory of the SON. OPG says approval by the SON is necessary for the project to proceed. "As we have stated in the past and we will state again, we will not build this project without SON support," OPG spokesperson Neal Kelly said.3

There is broad public and political opposition on the Canadian and US sides of Lake Huron. Bipartisan resolutions opposing the proposed repository have been introduced in the US House and Senate.4

One hundred and fifty-five Native American First Nations, states, counties, cities, towns, and villages − including Michigan, Chicago, Toledo, and Toronto − have passed resolutions opposing the repository, representing 21 million people.5

After Chicago City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the repository in January, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: "The Great Lakes hold 84 percent of North America's fresh water and Chicago's position as the paramount Great Lakes city makes OPG's proposed nuclear waste repository a threat both to public health and our environment."6

The independence of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has been called into question, and the conservative Canadian government has seriously weakened environmental protection laws in recent years.7,8

More information:


1. Michael Erskine, 20 May 2015, 'Kincardine nuclear waste disposal site gets panel green light',

2. Ivan Radisic, 19 May 2015, 'Anishinabek Nation: Lake Huron nuke waste plan 'flawed'',

3. Rob Gowan, 8 May 2015, 'First Nations oppose Ont. nuclear waste burial project',

4. Beyond Nuclear, 15 April 2015, 'Canada's Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump',


6. Jim Bloch, 20 Feb 20, 2015, 'Opposition to Lake Huron nuclear waste dump continues to grow',

7. Shawn McCarthy, 23 Sep 2013, 'Impartiality of federal panel reviewing nuclear-waste plan under scrutiny',

8. Ole Hendrickson, 8 May 2015, 'See you at the ribbon cutting? Federal panel approves nuclear dump on Lake Huron',