Nuclear power is the source of 19 percent of the electricity generated in the United States and 15 percent in Canada, making up a significant percentage of each country’s share of energy derived from non-fossil-fuel sources. Producing this electricity generates waste in the form of highly radioactive spent fuel and other nuclear waste that, while less radioactive, still requires isolation from the biosphere.The challenges of finding a site for permanent disposal of spent fuel are well known. But disposing of waste that is less radioactive can be difficult as well, as Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, is finding out with its plans for a deep geologic repository less than a mile from Lake Huron. The repository, if licensed, could open by 2018. It would be the first permanent disposal facility for radioactive waste to operate in the Great Lakes basin.
Proposed rules by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) would place more emphasis on the role of states in ensuring the security of shipments of spent nuclear fuel. These rules, as well as other security issues involving spent-fuel shipments through the region, were prominent on the spring meeting agenda of the CSG Midwestern Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee. This group of state officials and legislators met in May in conjunction with the annual meeting of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Transportation Stakeholders Forum (NTSF).