The Great Lakes are precious to the folks residing along their borders. Time and again the five lakes have been subjected to challenges impacting their environment, water levels, recreation and so forth. Fortunately, we have had the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to fight back in protecting the Great Lakes.

Now comes a report that Canada has narrowed to two communities its potential list of hosts for a permanent national repository for its most radioactive waste — spent fuel from nuclear power generation. And one of the two finalists is on the shores of Lake Huron.

If chosen, Huron-Kinloss/South Bruce in Bruce County, Ontario, could host a large repository: 1,650 feet or more underground, to which the entire nation’s spent nuclear fuel supply would be transported and stored, essentially forever, according to a story in the Detroit Free Press.

“This is the worst of the worst” waste, Kevin Kamps. Radioactive waste specialist with the nonprofit Beyond Nuclear, based in Tacoma Park, Maryland, was quoted in the Free Press. “It’s highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel. It is dangerous forever,” he told the Free Press.

For perspective, as the U.S. considered a similar underground repository for its spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada — a proposal that has since stalled since amid backlash from Nevadans — a Federal Court of Appeals — a Federal Court of Appeals in 2004 ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop standards to protect people and the environment from the site’s radiation for up to one million years.

Canada, the Free Press wrote, has an inventory of almost 2.9 million used nuclear fuel bundles currently stored above-ground in wet pools and dry containers at the nuclear plant sites where the waste is generated. That’s about 128 million pounds of highly radioactive material, a number that is growing.

The site along Lake Huron is in the same county where another underground storage facility — this one for low-to-intermediate level radioactive waste from Ontario’s 19 nuclear reactors — was proposed. That plan, still under consideration, generated loud opposition throughout the Great Lakes Basin beginning about five years ago, especially in Michigan.

Michigan’s Democratic senators, who were among those urging a halt to the lower-radiation waste storage on the Great Lakes, expressed alarm that Canada is now considering putting its most dangerous nuclear waste along the Great Lakes as well.

“This makes no sense,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow was quoted in the Free Press.

“Canada has as much at stake as we do in protecting our Great Lakes,” said Stabenow. “There is no justification for a nuclear waste site so close to Lake Huron to even be under consideration.”

Ben Belfadhel, vice president of site selection at Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization, told the Free Press ‘it’s the safest methods we have today to ensure the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel. It’s the methods that’s being pursued by all countries around the world with nuclear programs.”

The battle of opinions regarding used nuclear waste is worldwide. The folks in the Great Lakes Basin have their own opinions about protecting the precious freshwater gem. They have every right to be nervous about a project that is certain to impact future generations.