Nuclear Nightmare on the Great Lakes

Written by Kevin Kamps and Michael Leonardi for CounterPunch

The Great Lakes of North America make up 20% of the Earth’s fresh surface water. Their dynamic ecosystems have been considered by many Native American tribes to function as the heart of the interconnected ecosystems that make up the North American continent known to many of the Indigenous peoples here as Turtle Island. The Great Lakes are known world wide for their biodiversity, beauty, fishing, and trade and shipping routes. These fragile and beautiful ecosystems along with the human populations that live along their shores are under constant threat from the Nuclear Industry that has been slowly and quietly irradiating the heart of the Turtle for decades.

Spent fuel pools of highly radioactive wastes sit dangerously on the shores of lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Ontario. Aging and dysfunctional reactors continue to operate as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy and their Canadian counterparts push to allow these dangerous behemoths to function for decades more, prioritizing corporate profits ahead of public health and safety and the protection of the natural environment. This series of articles will detail this Nuclear Nightmare on the Great Lakes of North America as it has transpired and continues to unfold.

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Kevin Kamps specializes in high-level waste management and transportation; new and existing reactors; decommissioning; Congress watch; climate change; and federal subsidies for the Nuclear watchdog Beyond Nuclear. He can be reached at

Michael Leonardi is a writer and activist that is currently splitting time between Toledo, Ohio and Italy. He can be reached at

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