Judge approves plan to ship nuclear waste
A proposal to ship highly radioactive nuclear waste through Niagara has been given approval from a U.S. judge.
The shipments were originally meant to begin last year, but legal intervention and protests sent the proposal to federal court. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington ruled that the U.S. Department of Energy could legally move forward with its plan to import about 6,000 gallons of liquid nuclear waste. The department’s proposal includes a trucking route which crosses the Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo.
Moving the nuclear waste is expected to be a long, slow process, with documents suggesting it would take more than 100 truckloads over the next four years to move all the nuclear waste over the bridge.
The nuclear waste — which is of the highly-enriched weapons grade variety — originally came from the U.S. and was shipped to Canada decades ago. The liquid nuclear waste was imported by Canada and sent to a nuclear research facility in Chalk River, Ont., where it is repurposed for medical procedures. Once processed, the weapons grade uranium can be broken down and used for the detection and treatment of various cancers.
According to judge Tanya Chutkan, the program has been running for decades without any problems.
“This program is part of a larger effort, dating back to 1950s, in which the United States has provided highly enriched uranium to foreign nuclear research reactors conditioned on the promise to not develop nuclear weapons, then later accepted the spent nuclear fuel and target material back from those foreign reactors to avoid the stockpiling of nuclear material in foreign countries and to ensure the safe processing and maintenance of the material in the United States,” she wrote in the 18-page ruling which approved the plan.
The legal action was brought forward by Beyond Nuclear. Since the waste could theoretically still be used to create a strong nuclear explosion, Beyond Nuclear opposed the movement of the material. .