For Immediate Release
Nov. 30, 2006
Hugh McDiarmid Jr.,
Kevin Kamps, Nuclear Information and Resource Service: 301-270-6477
Michael Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes: 734-241-6998
Kay Drey, Nuclear Information and Resource Service: 314-725-7676
Urges Rejection of Big
Numerous Michigan Natural Resource Treasures Without Nuclear Waste Would be Better Choices for Limited Trust Fund Dollars
A coalition of environmental groups today urged the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board to reject a plan to purchase the former Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant site near Charlevoix.
The continued storage of high-level atomic waste at the site, its legacy of radioactive contamination, and the availability of numerous high-quality natural lands competing for limited Trust Fund dollars should be factors when the Board votes on the proposal Wednesday, Dec. 6.
“There are more than 160 applicants for trust fund dollars, many for spectacular lands including sand dunes, wetlands, riverfront and lakefront property and forests – none of which have nuclear waste issues,” said Hugh McDiarmid Jr., spokesman for the Michigan Environmental Council. “We ask the board members not to shortchange these applicants to invest in a site that will have dangerous radioactive waste for the foreseeable future, and that has a dubious environmental legacy of contamination.”
The 351-acre tract would cost the state $3 million this year and an additional $16.3 million in future years. It surrounds a 100-acre zone forbidden to the public because of its proximity to 64 tons of highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods patrolled by armed guards.
All told, the request is among $63 million worth of projects under consideration for the $35 million available.
Although Big Rock has been declared clean by contractors hired by the property’s owner, Consumers Energy Co., questions remain as to the residual contamination and radiation, and the thoroughness of the environmental assessment.
Consumers Energy and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports reveal
a four decade “Radiological Event History” that documents 63
radioactive spills, leaks, overflows, as well as sloppy handling of radioactive
materials at the Big Rock site. A single incident in 1984 released 20,000
gallons of radioactive water into the soil and aquifers. Consumers Energy
received permission from the NRC for “on-site disposal” of that
spill, leaving the contaminants in the ground water to flow out into
“Consumers Energy has treated the Big Rock site as a radioactive
septic field, and
“Water is in every cell of the human body, therefore water containing radioactive hydrogen – tritium – can enter, contaminate, and bombard any cell in the body, doing harm to this and future generations,” said Kay Drey, an NIRS board member who has researched tritium’s health hazards for decades.
“The tiny reactor at Big Rock compiled one of the dirtiest
radiation release records in the entire country,” said Michael Keegan of
the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes. “That radioactivity
contaminated the soil, groundwater, and
The U.S. Department of Energy has stated in recent months that the
proposed national dumpsite for high-level radioactive waste at
“The high-level radioactive wastes at Big Rock are not going
anywhere anytime soon,” said Kamps of NIRS. “In the meantime, they
will remain a radioactive bull’s eye on the shoreline of
Each container of high-level waste at Big Rock contains the
long-lasting radiation equivalent of 240
Groups opposing the state acquisition of the Big Rock property include: Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, Don’t Waste Michigan, Environment Michigan, Friends of the Detroit River, Great Lakes United, HEAT - Hamtramck Environmental Action Team, Home for Peace and Justice, Huron Environmental Activist League (HEAL), IHM Justice, Peace and Sustainability Office, Les Cheneaux Watershed Council, Lone Tree Council, Michigan Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, Michigan Environmental Council, National Environmental Trust, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Tittabawassee River Watch, and Wayne State University College Democrats.