Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Rep. Miller: Radioactive cargo a risk to Lakes

by Candice Miller on October 18, 2010


WASHINGTON – A Michigan congresswoman is raising environmental concerns about a Canadian energy company’s plans to ship more than a dozen decommissioned radioactive steam generators through Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River on their way to Sweden.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, Harrison Township Republican, sent a letter late last week to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Coast Guard, asking that they “take all proper precautions and investigate” the plan proposed by Bruce Power Ltd to ship 16 generators from its facility at Owen Sound, Ontario, through three of the Great Lakes, along the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Atlantic Ocean to be recycled.

From their location on Georgian Bay in Canada, the generators would be shipped through Lake Huron, then enter the St. Clair River between Sarnia and Port Huron, cross Lake St. Clair and then travel past Detroit on the Detroit River on the way to Lake Erie.

Bruce Power says the generators – which “basically act as large kettles to make steam as part of the electricity generating process” at its nuclear power facility, can largely be reycled and any low-level radioactive waste components will be safely stored.

The generators – which have been welded shut – are within regulatory limits to ship and would be transported by “qualified companies with proven experience in moving heavy components.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering the proposal.

Earlier this month, several U.S. senators representing states bordering the Great Lakes – including Michigan Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow – signed letters to PHMSA and Canadian officials asking whether a shipment of “comparable size and radioactive content” has been authorized in the past and if all international standards are being followed.

Miller, whose district includes the western bank of the St. Clair River, said in her letter to PHMSA and the Coast Guard that protecting the lakes is uppermost in her mind.

“It is vitally important to ensure the utmost care is taken to avoid any chance of damaging the Great Lakes,” she said.

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