Another Costly Nuclear Decision – Ontario’s Pickering Nuclear Plant Gets 10-Year Extension

“Somehow it is ok with the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Savety Commission) that Pickering continues to produce close to 20,000 radioactive fuel bundles every year despite a lack of fully secure storage facilities onsite or any viable long-term plan for dealing with this deadly waste.” – Ontario Clean Air Alliance

News from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Posted August 9th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has approved a ten-year extension to the aging Pickering Nuclear Station’s operating licence, meaning the plant could potentially operate until 2028. 

The Pickering Nuclear Power Plant along the northern shores of Lake Ontario, east of Toronto

It took the CNSC less than five weeks to review – and dismiss – dozens of submissions pointing out the Pickering Station’s terrible location surrounded by millions of people, the lack of thorough emergency planning despite 50 years of operations, and the absence of plans for better dealing with the tonnes of radioactive waste stockpiled at the plant with nowhere to go.

Instead, the CNSC came down in favour of submissions such as one made by Ontario Power Generation that claimed that no one had been harmed by the massive radiation releases from the Fukushima accident and that “some radiation” is actually good for you!

Meanwhile, the CNSC essentially ignored the findings of international radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie about the true potential consequences of a Fukushima-scale accident at Pickering, including more than 20,000 cancer deaths and hundreds of thousands of homes left evacuated for decades.

It also ignored the issues raised by nuclear risk expert Dr. Gordon Thompson about the ever-growing pile of highly radioactive waste on the Pickering waterfront – next to the source of drinking water for 40 million people – including enough plutonium to construct more than 11,000 nuclear warheads.

Somehow it is ok with the CNSC that Pickering continues to produce close to 20,000 radioactive fuel bundles every year despite a lack of fully secure storage facilities onsite or any viable long-term plan for dealing with this deadly waste.

The CNSC’s lack of serious scrutiny of the issues involved in operating a 50-year-old nuclear station well past its intended lifespan were made clear by its decision to begin hearings on the licence renewal just as the licence was coming up for renewal.

With only a few weeks between the end of public hearings and the licence expiry, it was obvious the CNSC never truly intended to do anything more than issue its usual rubber-stamp approval. Indeed, the CNSC has never refused a nuclear licence request – no matter how old or trouble-prone the facility.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that continuing to operate Pickering is a good, safe or economical idea. In fact, replacing Pickering with low-cost water power from Quebec would save us $billions.

Meanwhile, decommissioning the fourth-oldest nuclear station in North America would create thousands of jobs and open up new economic opportunities on the Pickering waterfront.

The CNSC may be satisfied that millions of people living alongside eight aging reactors (six active) is a good idea, but we know the vast majority of residents of the GTA are not on board with this risky plan.

We need an unbiased review of the true costs and benefits of continuing to operate this high-cost, high-risk facility, which should have been closed years ago. Please email energy minister Greg Rickford <greg.rickford@pc.ola.org> and tell him that closing Pickering now is the best way to cut electricity costs while ensuring the safety of millions of Ontarians.

Thank you. Please pass this onto your friends.  

  • Angela Bischoff, Director, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

About the Ontario Clean Air Alliance – The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a coalition of over 90 organizations that represent more than six million Ontarians.   We led the successful campaign to phase-out Ontario’s five dirty coal-fired power plants.   We are now working to move Ontario towards a 100% renewable electricity future through an integrated combination of energy conservation and efficiency, water power imports from Quebec and cost-effective Made-in-Ontario green energy.

For more information on the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and its citizen advocacy work, click on http://www.cleanairalliance.org/ .

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2 responses to “Another Costly Nuclear Decision – Ontario’s Pickering Nuclear Plant Gets 10-Year Extension

  1. At least Pickering is publicly owned and operated. Bruce Nuclear must have the same storage issue and its a for-profit operation.

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  2. Angela, I may be wrong but it is possible that CNSC listened to your “experts” and gave them the credibility they deserve.

    The key give away in this is your surprise that “some radioactivity may be good for you” a statement that so troubles your beliefs that you simply can’t accept it. And yet it is likely correct.

    I say “likely” because it would be very hard to prove in a naturally radioactive world where and no one has ever lived without constant exposure to radioactivity.

    What we do know is that there is no detectable correlation between health and background radiation suggesting that low levels of radiation make little or no difference. We, like all other life, have evolved to live with it.

    AND there is a building body of evidence that in populations where the levels of radiation are slightly enhanced the health of the population improves! And that actually makes good medical sense.

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