Copyright (c) 1999 University of Toledo College of Law
The Toledo Journal of Great Lakes' Law, Science & Policy
GREAT LAKES COMMENTARY: THE NUCLEAR THREAT TO THE GREAT LAKES
1999 Tol. J. Great Lakes' L. Sci. & Pol'y 33
Mary P. Sinclair, Ph.D.*
IMPACT OF NUCLEAR PLANTS ON THE GREAT LAKES FROM ROUTINE OPERATION
The nuclear power reactors on the shores of the Great Lakes are the little known "sleeping giants" of highly toxic and long-lived hazardous material situated next to the largest supply of fresh water in the world.
There is little public understanding of the fact that it does not require an accident for a reactor to adversely affect the environment and public health. Some of the effects of these radioactive materials will literally last forever. During their operation, all reactors routinely release radioactive water and gases during their operation. The releases are needed to control the pressure, temperature, and humidity and to keep radioactivity from exceeding regulatory limits for workers. 1
There are a total of eleven nuclear plant power sites with eighteen reactors in the United States portion of the Great Lakes and four nuclear power (n-power) plant sites with twenty-one reactors on the Canadian portion. Ten additional plants in the Chicago area are just outside of the Basin but are in the wind-shed of the Great Lakes Basin. Zion 1 and 2, in Illinois, and Big Rock and Fermi 1 in Michigan are closed. The remaining plants are releasing radioactivity into the air and water as part of routine operation. 2
A large body of technical literature exists that documents the adverse effects of radiation on living things. 3 The range of consequences includes cancer, reproductive failure, irreversible genetic defects, birth abnormalities and death. 4
While these routine ...
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