The news landed like a lump of coal for many of us on Christmas morning: The Lake Superior region of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula has "the most stable region of granite outcrops in the U.S."
Also, there hasn't been a volcano or significant earthquake here in millions of years. And that makes our area perfect -- absolutely perfect, according to a front-page story about a 114-page study from the Sandia National Laboratory -- for entombing nuclear waste.
Scientists and the U.S. government have been on the hunt for such a place since Yucca Mountain in Nevada was ruled out in 2009.
"We're sitting on one of the most stable areas of North America," said Steve Hauck, a geologist for the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute. He said it as though it was good news.
And maybe it can be.
That'd be despite the natural-for-many-of-us gut response of going out into our garages to start making protest placards against any notion of nuclear waste being deposited here. The notion sounds scary. But is it?
There's a reality that this stuff has to go somewhere. There are 104 operating commercial reactors in the United States with plans to add at least another 26, as the News Tribune's John Myers reported.
Minnesota already is home to radioactive waste; it's stored in temporary casks near the Mississippi River outside the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing. The storage site is one of 120 in 39 states. Nearly 77,000 tons of nuclear waste -- and growing -- is in need of a permanent home.
There are a lot of ifs, but with answers found to satisfy concerns, maybe that home can be here in the Northland. Maybe it should be here.
If the Northland and the Great Lakes region really does have ideally solid granite, if our geologic stability is equally as ideal, and if the waste can be stored safely, then, well -- well, let's not say no just yet.
With open minds unpolluted by propaganda, by bad information or by catchy, curbside rallying cries, let's consider what the scientists have to say. Then let's talk about charging astronomical rents to store the stuff. Let's weigh the potential economic boon vs. any risks.
"Deep geological disposal is the most promising and accepted method currently available for safely isolating spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste from the environment for very long periods of time," an Obama administration Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future said in calling for the development of "one or more geologic disposal facilities."
"You'd probably want something you could walk across and characterize [map] without having to dig through hundreds of feet [of dirt]. And there's a lot of that rock at the surface across most all of Northeastern Minnesota," Harvey Thorleifson, director of the Minnesota Geological Survey of the University of Minnesota, said in the Christmas Day story.
He said it as though it was a good thing. And maybe it can be.