Not in my backyard is the standard response of most nuclear waste dump opponents. But proponents' pat response is the stuff nobody wants still has to go somewhere.
It's a reasonable counter-argument, but it doesn't fare so well against the furor about proposed radioactive waste facility in Ontario. If Ontario Power Generation gets its way, low- and intermediate-level waste would be buried a half-mile underground in a rock formation.
The problem, though, is the storage site is in Kincardine, Ontario - less than a mile from Lake Huron.
There is a substantial volume of scientific research that concludes there is no reason to worry. The waste would be housed in a 450 million-year-old limestone rock formation with little to no permeability and little or no water movement. Once the repository is full, it would be sealed with a layer of a thick, shale formation.
Despite these assurances, critics are unconvinced. The nuclear dump's location is just too close to Lake Huron. If the unthinkable should occur and the radioactive waste somehow reaches the Great Lakes, 20 percent of the world's fresh water would be in jeopardy.
The Great Lakes are too precious a natural resource to endanger. That the Kincardine waste dump has drawn international protest and concern should come as no surprise. No matter how safe it is purported to be, the proposed storage site proximity to Lake Huron is unlikely or impossible to dispel fears that something could go wrong.
Michigan lawmakers, although several years late to the game, are right to oppose the Kincardine facility. A package of legislation approved by the state Senate and pending in the House calls on the president, Congress and secretary of state to ask the International Joint Commission to start an investigation of the proposed facility.
But one of the legislation's provisions goes too far. It would ban the importation of radioactive waste into Michigan, a measure likely to prompt other states to follow suit.
It is the worst expression of the "not-in-my-back-yard" stance. Nuclear waste is a fact of life and must go somewhere.
The Kincardine dump's location makes it unacceptable.
- Times Herald (Port Huron)