Nuclear storage site shouldn’t be located on Lake Michigan

Published 10:16 am Thursday, March 10, 2016

Much of the nation’s power is provided by safe and reliable nuclear energy. American nuclear power can be a key component in meeting our current and future energy demands and create good jobs. However, storage for spent fuel is becoming a problem due to federal inaction.

Southwest Michigan is home to two nuclear power plants: Donald C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman and the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven. Currently, spent nuclear fuel for these plants is safely stored on site. Unfortunately, fuel storage at the nation’s 61 nuclear plants is at or near capacity.

We need a safe, permanent waste storage site that is not on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Michigan Senate and House of Representatives have both approved my resolution calling for the completion of federal facilities for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel or a refund of billions of dollars to ratepayers.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 6 calls on Congress to appropriate from the Nuclear Waste Fund the money necessary to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste or reimburse electric utility customers who paid into the fund if a permanent site is not completed.

Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982 requiring the federal government to follow a strict timeline for building a permanent repository for high-level waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants. In 2002, Congress and President Bush approved Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site of a safe nuclear waste repository for the U.S.

Michigan customers have paid more than $810 million since 1983 for the construction of a permanent site.

Yet — more than 30 years later — and we continue to store waste at temporary pools at our nuclear plants.

With a united voice, the Michigan Legislature is urging the federal government to either fulfill its obligation to open the long-term facility or return the money they collected from ratepayers to build the site.


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.