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Senate unanimously passes legislation to halt proposed Canadian nuclear waste facility

The Michigan Senate unanimously approved measures Wednesday to stop the construction of a Canadian nuclear waste dump on the shores of Lake Huron and strengthen Michigan’s protection of natural resources against radioactive waste.

Senate Bill 948, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, would ban the importation of radioactive waste into Michigan, while Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 (Pavlov) and Senate Resolution 151 (Green) call for a potentially binding recommendation from the International Joint Commission (IJC) to halt the construction of a permanent nuclear waste disposal facility in Kincardine, Ontario, less than a mile from Lake Huron. Passage of two more resolutions, SCR 17 (Pavlov) and SR 150 (Green), invokes the immediate intervention of the Great Lakes Commission.

The commission has already signaled their commitment to taking up a thorough review of the facility.

“The Great Lakes are a vital environmental and economic asset for our region, and for the state of Michigan in particular,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “We take seriously our responsibility to safeguard the health of the lakes and agree that the proposed nuclear waste repository on the shore of Lake Huron in Ontario needs to be carefully evaluated and held to the highest safety standards. We appreciate Senator Pavlov’s leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with Michigan’s Legislature and our member states and the provinces of Ontario and Québec to carefully review the proposed facility and its potential to impact the Great Lakes.”

Besides banning the importation of radioactive waste, SB 948 would extend Michigan’s current ban on long-term radioactive waste disposal to include Class C radioactive waste—the most dangerous form of low-level radioactive waste—and create the Great Lakes Protection Radioactive Waste Advisory Board to assess a broad range of impacts from the proposed Ontario facility.

“Today’s vote shows the Michigan Senate is united in its opposition to this proposed facility. We’ve heard from residents all across the state about this flawed plan, and it needs to be stopped,” said Pavlov. “Not only would this nuclear dump threaten the health of natural resources in Michigan, it could critically damage the ecosystem of the entire Great Lakes basin.”

Pavlov urged concerned residents to visit to sign a petition on the issue.

Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, added, “Michigan has a long and proud history of protecting the Great Lakes to the benefit of our environment and our economy. Today we continued to build upon that legacy with a clear and bipartisan voice in the Michigan Senate in opposition to the threat of nuclear waste.”

Key conservation groups support the measures, including Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Michigan Environmental Council, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Sierra Club Michigan and Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

SB 948 and SCRs 16 and 17 now head to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration. SRs 150 and 151 will be transmitted to their respective parties.

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