Featured post

Durham Region asks Province to open up & to evaluate expanding nuclear evacuation zones



Durham Region asks Province to open up and to evaluate expanding nuclear evacuation zones

Whitby, November 8, 2015: Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) applauds Durham Regional Council for calling on the province to be more transparent in reviewing nuclear emergency plans, and to consider expanding the current 10 km nuclear evacuation zones around the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations.

“We’ve been very frustrated by the provincial government’s secrecy and foot-dragging since Fukushima. We applaud Durham Region for reminding the province that it needs to consult openly with the communities most affected in the event of an accident at Darlington or Pickering,” said Whitby resident and DNA member Gail Cockburn.

Durham Regional Council passed a motion on November 4, 2014 asking the province to “provide all non-confidential data and studies used in considering changes to Ontario’s off- site nuclear emergency plans.” It also asks the province “to consider the feasibility of expanding the 10 km primary zone.”

During last week’s Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearings on Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s application to rebuild the Darlington nuclear station, a CNSC Commissioner told Ontario government representatives that 80% of submissions from members of the public voiced concerns about the inadequacy of provincial emergency plans. CNSC staff also said they’d hold their own consultations on off-site nuclear emergency plans if the province refused to act.

Last month, potassium iodide (KI) pills were sent to everyone within the provincially- determined 10 km zone of the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations. The CNSC imposed this new safety requirement on OPG in 2014 in response to public concern and to the province’s failure to upgrade its nuclear emergency plans.

“The CNSC, Durham Region and DNA all agree. It’s been almost five years since the Fukushima disaster began, and an upgrade to Ontario’s off-site emergency plans is long overdue. Kathleen Wynne’s government needs to publicly and meaningfully consult the public on improving off-site nuclear emergency plans,” said DNA Coordinator Janet McNeill.

The motion was originally put forward in June by Councillor Jennifer O’Connell, who has since been elected Member of Parliament for Pickering, and seconded by Ajax’s Colleen Jordan. The motion was sent to committee for review before being passed by Council last week.

– 30 –

Featured post

KI: Truth or Lies?

  1. Wassup?

KI (potassium iodide) is being distributed right now within the 10 kilometre “zones” of the Pickering & Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations (PNGS & DNGS) – two very large nuclear generating stations (10 operating reactors altogether; 6 at Pickering, 4 at Darlington) located east of Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

Direction sign to Nukes

<graphic shows distances from downtown Toronto>

(KI distribution is also happening around the very large Bruce nuclear station on Lake Huron.)

This is by order of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canada’s federal nuclear “regulator.” More details below.

So, if you live in the 10 K “zone” around PNGS or DNGS, you will be receiving KI pills (by mail).

For the record, 2 things:

  • The DNA group was calling for KI pre-distribution back in 1997 (possibly even earlier) – specifically, for the emergency evacuation zones to be expanded from 10 K to 30 K, and for KI to be pre-distributed to everyone within the 30 K zone.
  • In New Brunswick, every resident has received KI in the 12 K “planning” zone, as well as within the 20 K “planning” zone of the Point Lepreau plant – since 1982 (they are delivered there door-to-door).

More “official” information about this program here.

KI Resources page on this site.

  1. Why KI?

Potassium iodide will protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine in the event of a nuclear accident. Children are particularly in need of this protection and particularly susceptible to thyroid cancer if not so protected.

Thus, having KI on hand in the event of a serious nuclear accident is a protective measure.

Having it ahead of time is essential, since during the disruption that inevitably follows a nuclear accident, obtaining KI pills is liable to be a low priority for citizens (& authorities) trying to cope with a plethora of other pressing challenges.

  1. Recent News About Thyroid Cancer – Japan

Last week Beyond Nuclear reported on recent studies about thyroid cancer incidence in Japan since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began on March 11, 2011.

Incidence is up dramatically, particularly in areas well west of the plant, where people were not evacuated.

Plenty of news about this on the Beyond Nuclear site here.

As well, the Toronto Star had an article about this recent research evidence.

KI pills were not distributed in Japan prior to the accident, nor at the time of the accident. A great many things went awry in the wake of the nuclear disaster. Evacuations were botched (including leaving people in what were known for weeks to be “hotspots),” orders to distribute KI fell between bureaucratic cracks, and overall, it is said, the “chain of command” in response to the nuclear disaster broke down.

(The posting ‘Fukushima: what really happened?’ has plenty of information about the disaster, as does the earlier posting ‘Fukushima: Emergency Planning? Failing Grade.’ Many quotes about the causes of the nuclear disaster can be found here.)

** Extremely important to note: thyroid cancer is not the only health impact possible. More on this below.

  1. Older News About Thyroid Cancer / KI Pills

As DNA members have learned from the American Thyroid Association 2014 brochure, KI proved to be pretty effective against thyroid cancer in Poland after the Chernobyl accident (April 26, 1986). According to this brochure, KI was distributed to more than 95% of the children within 3 days, & the rate of thyroid cancer “does not appear to have had an increase.” In Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, however, the children were not so fortunate. “As many as 3000 people exposed to that radiation developed thyroid cancer over the next 10 years. Most victims had been babies or young children living in Ukraine, Belarus and Ukraine.” “The region of excess risk extended up to a 200 mi radius from Chornobyl.”

Also mentioned: the cancers were “aggressive” & the associated health care costs continue to place a “heavy burden.”

In reading the book Voices from Chernobyl – The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (by recent Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich) I came across this comment about KI pills post-Chernobyl accident: “Those who could, got potassium iodide (you couldn’t get it at the pharmacy in my town, you had to really know someone).” <pg. 85> Not many could have taken it at the right time in any case, since the government failed to notify the citizenry until several days after the accident took place.

  1. The CNSC KI Directive – Fall 2014

Almost exactly a year ago (after much discussion, Fukushima “enhancements” to the Canadian nuclear plants, &, dare I say, public pressure) Canada’s nuclear “regulator” ordered that KI pills be pre-distributed to households within the 10 K “zone” of the country’s nuke plants.

(Discussing the “zones” around nuke plants is another whole topic. The zones are pretty much arbitrary, are designated by the industry itself for its own convenience, and, as we have learned from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, radioactive plumes are certainly no respecters of man’s artificial boundaries, national borders or regional dividing lines. Radioactivity travels with the winds – far & wide & very unpredictably.)

So, at 4:01 pm on Friday, October 10th last year (the Friday of Canadian Thanksgiving, a long weekend here), CNSC sent out a news release about what they call REG.DOC.2.10.1 & the plan to distribute KI pills. They might have been aiming to miss the media with that late Friday afternoon release, but it didn’t work out that way, and there was a fair bit of media coverage that weekend & early the following week.

Then, 4 days later, on October 14th, CNSC sent out a message with this info: “Four independent third party studies explore and describe the benefits of distributing KI pills in advance to citizens within a 30-mile (48 kilometres) radius of a nuclear power plant, and the need for timely and correct consumption of these pills in the case of a nuclear accident.

The studies indicate such preventative measures can greatly reduce the accumulation of radioiodines in the thyroid gland, as well as the resulting radiation dose. This is an essential measure, since thyroid cancer –, most specifically in children and infants – is one of the most frequently observed consequences of a nuclear accident.

The studies also highlight the need for appropriate administrative policies and increased research on the topic of children and infant consumption of KI pills, to better understand both the effectiveness and the safety of these measures.

Read the studies:  <end of quote from CNSC message>

Note: the media apparently did not receive this info. This was sent merely to the many of us who are on an information list for CNSC messages. Interesting that the press got the 10 K info … but not the info about 10 K probably being insufficient.


  1. Switzerland

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the nuclear regulator did modelling to assess the likely impacts of a Fukushima-scale (International Nuclear Event Scale or INES Level 7) nuclear accident.

They carried this out transparently (in stark contrast to CNSC’s “severe accident study” debacle; the severe accident study that was clearly NOT a severe accident study – all thoroughly laid out in the posting ‘Severe Accident Study. Oops. Not really!), and concluded by sending out KI pills to all Swiss citizens within a 50 K radius of their nuke plants. Info on this here (en français).

The American Thyroid Association, btw, recommends pre-distribution to 50 miles (not kilometres) & comments “No one can predict how far a radioactive iodine cloud might spread” & recommends 3 levels of coverage. Check out the brochure for yourself here.

It also notes that the WHO (World Health Organization) endorses KI distribution and that France, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland “not only stockpile KI but predistribute KI to their populations.”

Finally, this brochure states under the heading ‘How Should KI Be Incorporated Into an Overall Emergency Plan?’ “KI is an adjunct to evacuation, sheltering (staying in an unventilated room with the doors and windows closed), and avoiding contaminated food, milk, and water. KI should not take the place of any other protective measures.”

  1. Note! A very important note

In all the hoopla surrounding this discussion taking place in Durham Region these days, it would be very easy to lose sight of a highly important fact: thyroid cancer is not – not by a long shot – the only possible/likely health consequence from exposure to radiation following a nuclear accident.

There are myriad others. Note links below in the Resources section for information about health consequences – not just of exposure following an accident, but from “routine” emissions from nuclear plants.

2nd note: As just stated above, KI does not constitute emergency planning! With all the fuss being made by CNSC, OPG, Ontario’s health ministry and the Durham Region Health Department, a person could be fooled into thinking something of substance is taking place here. Really, it is not!

KI is an “adjunct” and “should not take the place of any other protective measures.”

KI will not prevent an accident from happening. It will assuredly not make you “safe.”

It will also not protect you (or your loved ones) against the many other possible health consequences if an accident does take place. Nor, of course, from so-called Routine Releases.

  1. Conclusion & Resources

I hope it’s becoming clear that it’s probably a pretty sensible idea to develop a healthy skepticism about claims made by the nuclear industry (& our “authorities”) regarding so-called nuclear “safety” & official readiness/preparations for a nuclear accident (the latter, we note, meaning “off-site” emergency response, being a provincial, regional and municipal responsibility).

If you’re not convinced yet of the need for a little digging, please look through the list of recent postings on this blog that you’ll see over to the right-hand side of the page.

Relevant Resources


Featured post

Darlington Hearing: Weigh in … & watch!

CNSC Hearing: Nov. 2-5, in Courtice (west of Bowmanville).

** NOTE: You can watch the hearing via Webcast. Go to www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca to find out how. (Allow yourself a few minutes to sort this out. You may have to fiddle a bit & click on several links before you get to the right spot. There should be a link on the upper right side of the main CNSC page.)

*** DNA’s written submission to CNSC

What’s It About? Why is this Licence a Bad Idea?

OPG (Ontario Power Generation) is asking for a 13-year licence to refurbish (i.e., rebuild) & continue operating 4 reactors at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS) — at huge public expense.

There are many reasons to speak up about this “life extension” project & the 13-year licence:

  • Building these reactors will cost Ontario taxpayers a fortune! At least $10 billion. Probably way more. Heck, the project is already costing us a fortune.
  • Who knows if they will be finished safely & on time? (In 2009, 500 Bruce Power workers were exposed to alpha radiation during refurbishment activities there. Much more could be said about this; feel free to dig around on the topic! Nasty.)
  • OPG’s past licences have never been for more than 2-5 years. Thus, this request is unprecedented.
  • Such a long licence is not necessary; other reactor operators in Canada have neither requested nor been granted such a long term. Bruce Power went through a licensing hearing earlier this year at which they asked for, & were granted, a 5-year licence for similar activities, i.e., refurbishment & continued operation.
  • A licence of this length is a way of reducing public scrutiny over OPG’s operations at Darlington.
  • If DNGS gets a 13-year licence, members of the public would not have the opportunity to oversee what is going on at the plant until 2028. Public hearings allow citizens to review OPG’s operations, and to ask questions. This ensures that OPG remains accountable to its host community.
  • Regular re-licensing hearings allow the public & independent CNSC commissioners to scrutinize both OPG operations & CNSC staff oversight of OPG.
  • Reduced public scrutiny can increase the risk of an accident if OPG & CNSC staff are not regularly – and publicly – held accountable for their actions.
  • Without accountability & transparency, reactor operators & regulators can become complacent, ignoring their responsibilities to ensure public safety. This is often referred to as “regulatory capture.”
  • This is what occurred at Fukushima. Lack of proper scrutiny & oversight (proper regulation) led to the Fukushima accident, assessed to be a “man-made” accident (you can check out this posting for many relevant quotations about the causes of the Fukushima accident).
  • Emergency planning in Durham Region/the Greater Toronto Area is gravely inadequate in the event that a serious accident occurs. The plans have been made under the assumption that only a mild accident with a minor release of radioactivity would take place. All explained more thoroughly here & here. Bottom line? Residents of Durham Region/the GTA are not safe to assume they’ll be well protected in the event of a serious nuclear accident.
  • Most citizens of Durham Region & Toronto actually don’t have a clue what they would do if an accident did take place. People are not well-informed.
  • We don’t seem to be able to count on Canada’s nuclear “regulator” to tell us the truth about nuclear safety, nuclear studies, & so on. The Harper government has turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog.
  • Canada’s nuclear regulator claims its staff has conducted a “severe accident study” that indicates a “serious” accident wouldn’t really cause too much of a problem. Problem is, the study is not what it claims to be … not at all. Best to read the previous post to get the lowdown.
  • Nuclear refurbishments create (literally!) tons of new nuclear wastes. We all know there is nowhere safe for any of that stuff to “go.” Plenty of detailed info on that topic here.
  • It just doesn’t seem that OPG’s plans for Darlington are worth the risk.
  • You know what? I haven’t even mentioned Lake Ontario, & what nuke plants do to the bodies of water they are located on. Holy smokes. Major omission. The Lake Ontario Waterkeeper site has some recent info; why not check that out? For sure, Lake Ontario takes a bit hit from this plant. Nor should we be risking the drinking water source for millions of people. Nosirree.

WHY Weigh In?

Those of us experienced with nuclear hearings & nuclear industry dealings find the CNSC doesn’t pay much attention even when a very large number of people tell them their licensees & licensees’ plans can’t be trusted. I say this advisedly, having taken part now in 10 hearings over the past 9 years.

Why do we keep showing up at CNSC hearings when the CNSC doesn’t really seem to be listening?

Because we need to get other people to listen!

Municipal / regional / provincial politicians – who can exert pressure on the Premier of Ontario.

It is up to Ontario’s Premier to sign off on this refurbishment project.

Politicians at the Durham (& Toronto) municipal / regional / provincial levels should speak up on our behalf (& their own!) because

  1. They live here too, so they’re just as much at risk as you & I.
  2. It’s their job & responsibility to protect the citizens who put them there (& who, also, btw, pay their salaries!)
  3. It’s dangerous that so few people & so few politicians are paying attention to serious nuclear risks & seriously deficient nuclear emergency planning.

Nuclear accidents are happening around the world at the rate of one every 10 years. There is no way under these circumstances that OPG should be permitted to operate behind closed doors for 13 years.

Emergency Planning Deficiencies

Current provincial emergency plans are built around the assumption of a minor accident in which no large release of radioactivity takes place immediately. Unsafe, unreasonable assumptions.

Plans for a serious accident, then, are not robust.

In Durham Region, what this means is that DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office) is only really prepared for the evacuation of people in the immediate vicinity of the plants (Pickering or Darlington).

Not for a big accident – a Level 7 on the INES (International Nuclear Event Scale) – like the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. Where tens of thousands of people needed to be evacuated … quickly.

DNA has been working to inform local politicians about these gaps & deficiencies, & it seems to have sunk in (with some, anyway) that most people really actually have no idea what to do if a serious accident happens.

We Canadians are so polite, though, aren’t we? Polite to a fault. So polite we do not safeguard our own … safety.

We need Durham Region’s politicians to come right out & say very clearly to the Province: “Dudes. We’re right here at Ground Zero if a serious accident should happen. Doesn’t look to us like emergency plans here are very … robust. You gotta do something about this!”

Heck, even nuke agencies IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), which exists to both promote and regulate nuclear energy; yes … & ICRP (the International Commission on Radiological Protection) have clearly stated that emergency plans need to be clearly communicated to members of the public before any emergency takes place, or they will not be of much use! (Previous post goes into detail on all this.)


You need not be a rocket scientist, nor possess a Ph.D., to speak clearly & concisely to the CNSC & express your lack of support for this refurbishment/life extension/13 year licence.

Short & sweet (well, no need to actually be sweet) will do nicely. From the heart is always best!

Just note down the things that irk or concern you the most, & fire it off by midnight on Monday, September 28th. Once again, details on making a submission are right here.

Recent postings:

Please take a look through recent postings on this site for relevant, related information. Each posting lists many additional resources at the end, should you be keen to learn more.

Direction sign to Nukes

<these distances from downtown Toronto>

Featured post

Severe Accident Study? Oops. Not really!

** Cheater alert: even trying to explain this study (& its implications, knowing what I know about CNSC, OPG (Ontario Power Generation) and provincial nuclear emergency planning) is tedious and time-consuming. Near the end of the post there are sections called Summary & Take-Aways. You might be tempted to skip to the end section if all the ins & outs drive you up the wall.

It’s hard to know quite where to begin describing this CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) “Study of Consequences of a Hypothetical Severe Nuclear Accident and Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures” report.

This severe accident study that is NOT a severe accident study. It all begins to go off the rails quite quickly.

You can find the study here. Severe Accident Study. (Request a pdf version &/or a hard copy by writing to info@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca & requesting one.) ** see note at bottom of post for new (corrected?) version of study.

I tried to make a chart, as I find that charts can be very helpful for organizing unruly thoughts or task lists … using the categories of Absurdities, Assumptions, Circular Reasoning, Contradictions, Failures to be Upfront, Lies, Manipulations, some examples of Whoa … really?? And Whhhhhhhat??? and inevitably some memorable/telling quotations … & a Summary with Take-Aways. (Topic headings not covered: unscientific “science”; misusing the phrase “conservative assumptions”; patronizing the public; & misleading topic headings, e.g. ‘How emergency plans are assured of being robust and successful’ with no content whatsoever of any applicability to the heading, etc.)

But as you can see, the sheer # of categories really got away on me. This represents my next best attempt to rassle this … “study” into some coherence. Not that the study itself can be made to be coherent; it can’t. But I need to be able to at least describe it coherently. Perhaps only semi-coherently. Let’s proceed:

Background: At a CNSC hearing on Darlington in 2012, many groups & individuals – our group, DNA, included – called on the CNSC (Canada’s federal nuclear “regulator”) to carry out a study that would dig into what would happen in the event of a serious nuclear accident at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS). Many of us were very concerned post-Fukushima disaster (which began on March 11/11, just before the new build hearing) that emergency planning measures were/are not sufficient to protect the public of Durham Region (& Toronto/the Greater Toronto Area) in the event of a serious accident here.

We were aware of the Joint Review Panel Recommendations from the New Build hearing in March/April 2011. Specifically Recommendation # 46 (Section 6.3):

Given that a severe accident may have consequences beyond the three & 10-kilometre zones evaluated by OPG, the Panel recommends that the Government of Ontario, on an ongoing basis, review the emergency planning zones & the emergency preparedness & response measures, as defined in the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP), to protect human health & safety.

After the Darlington 2012 hearing, the CNSC tribunal directed CNSC staff to do a study. Staff did do a study & put it out for public comment (June 2014). Many of us commented (by last August) that the study was clearly not a severe accident study.

Greenpeace found out through an Access to Information request that indeed a serious accident (Level 7 on the INES, International Nuclear Event Scale) had been studied, but that what was found was … well, a bit inconvenient to the nuclear industry, shall we just politely say, & was being said (behind closed doors) to be expected to be used “malevolently” at a hearing – so staff were asked to re-do … but with a less severe accident.

This Request for Ruling Aug.2015 explains how Greenpeace, DNA and six other groups have called on the CNSC to “release the results of the uncensored Darlington accident study by September 15th so that the public intervenors who requested this study in 2012 can consider and incorporate the study’s findings in their written submissions due on September 28th, 2015.”

Okay. To the study …

Assumptions / Absurdities

  1. Some questionable assumptions were made about cancer in the area, about a 30-year old male representing the adult population & about KI pill ingestion being 100% effective. (Annex 4, pg. 111-13 of the report.) Oh dear. Not good to start right off with very questionable assumptions…
  2. No immediate release of radionuclides.
  3. Emergency plans/prep/response have already kicked in. Putting the cart before the horse? (This may also qualify under Circular Reasoning; take your pick.)
  4. KI pills are already delivered/ingested out to 12 kilometres. (This really boggles the mind, since the Primary Zone only goes out to 10 K & most people in that 2 K between the pre-distribution area of 10 K & 12 K likely won’t have KI handy, & btw, you actually have to ingest it BEFORE exposure to receive 100% benefit from it. Four hours before No, I am not making that up.)
  5. People in the 3 K “contiguous zone” have already been evacuated.
  6. No evacuation beyond 12K would be necessary (this kind of gives away the fact that it’s really not a severe accident, doesn’t it? Compare to Chernobyl & Fukushima realities.)
  7. On page 9 it is explained, “The underlying goal has been defined in terms of avoiding undue public disruption, in the case of the large release of Cs-137, to avoid long-term relocation. It is a release of this magnitude that was examined in this study. The release of a greater magnitude is practically eliminated in light of the improvements emanating from the Fukushima Task Force.” (This one likely also qualifies under the categories of Whoa! Really?? & Circular Reasoning. Let’s move on to circular reasoning, now, shall we?)

Circular Reasoning

The federal government (in the form of the CNSC) is in charge of licensing & supervising operations of the nuke plants. Off-site nuclear emergency planning is a provincial, regional & municipal responsibility (the province is overall in charge; municipalities or regional governments are in charge of carrying out evacuations).

There is this sort of eerie, circular thing going on here that I find challenging to articulate.

The feds are saying the Province is in charge of mop-up if an accident happens. That the PNERP (Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan) will look after us & help safeguard our health.

“From a risk acceptability perspective, the ability of the PNERP to effectively reduce the health risk, combined with the very low likelihood associated with severe nuclear accidents given Fukushima enhancements (i.e., such an event will be practically eliminated), allows these risks to be effectively managed to an acceptable level in alignment with international risk and radiological frameworks.” [pg. iv of “Extended executive summary”]

The report also says (on pg. 2) “Though the study results are useful in support of other initiatives, they are not meant to represent specific reactor accident scenarios, nor be part of the actions emanating from the Fukushima Action Plan or activities being undertaken by other parties (e.g., updating of nuclear emergency response plans).”

So this seems to be saying that whatever the Province gets up to with the PNERP (currently under review, behind closed doors, all indications being that there is no plan whatsoever to change the planning basis; my apologies; you may have to read the previous post to really grasp this planning basis business), this study is about this study & does not mean or intend to inform that updating of the PNERP.

Yet. I happen to know that the Province is indeed leaning on this study. In a letter to DNA from the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services in June 2015, the Minister said, & I quote “OPG and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have collaborated on developing “The Study of Consequences of a Hypothetical Severe Nuclear Accident and Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures” as a result of a Commission direction during the Environmental Assessment of the refurbishment and continued operation of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. This study, which is one of several technical studies and reviews that have been undertaken since the Fukushima emergency, is informing the PNERP planning basis review.” (Letter from Mr. Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, dated June 3, 2014.)

So CNSC says the feds are counting on the PNERP, & the Province is saying (it seems) “We don’t think the planning basis needs to be changed because the feds/OPG are studying up on what to do in the event of a serious accident.”

Isn’t there some kind of painful circular reasoning at work here?

DNA has learned from experience that this provincial nuclear emergency plan review, which we and two other groups called on the Minister for in August 2013, is taking place very much behind closed doors. Prying information out of that Ministry is a chore involving the necessity for endless FOI (Freedom of Information) requests.

Anyway. Throughout this (alleged) Severe Accident study, provincial (and regional/municipal) responsibilities are referenced. As I say, it seems a bit eerie the way the feds/nuke operators are counting on the Province to look after Ontarians if the you-know-what hits the fan. Yet the Province is counting on the feds to assist in their planning basis deliberations.

This report repeats several times that the PNERP is “flexible.” I guess this means that it will respond well in the event of even the most serious accident. But … many of us are skeptical. If you don’t really plan for a serious accident, how can you be prepared for one? (We do know from media reports & conversations/meetings with both local residents & Durham politicians that most people in the Region actually haven’t a clue about what to do in the case of a serious accident.)

More Circular Stuff:

The claim is made (Pg. 73) that Canadian nuclear power plants are safe. Now, we know they were said to be “safe” before the Fukushima accident, & before all the “Fukushima enhancements” were made (after the Fukushima accident). So they were safe, & now they are safe , & … I guess we are to believe that no accident can happen here (‘though if one happens elsewhere, & this is occurring at the rate of about 1 every 10 years, I suppose more study will be done, & more enhancements might be made, and then the plants will be … safe. Again. Still?? Safer?)

Contradictions or just … things that seem a bit confusing to me

“The results of the study provide insights that are useful for the purposes of emergency planning and response. Most importantly, it informs the public and other stakeholders of the possible consequences of a hypothetical severe nuclear accident, the effectiveness of emergency planning, and the inherent safety of Canadian nuclear power plants.” [pg. 1]

“Though the study results are useful in support of other initiatives, they are not meant to represent specific reactor accident scenarios, nor be part of the actions emanating from the Fukushima Action Plan or activities being undertaken by other parties (e.g., updating of nuclear emergency response plans).” [pg. 2; emphasis mine]

“As such, the study is of a theoretical nature, and uses hypothetical severe accident scenarios with a number of conservative assumptions. It is not meant to reflect the state of readiness of Canadian nuclear power plants, its operators or responsible jurisdictions when it comes to addressing the potential for accidents or their consequences.” [pg. 19]

Oh. I’m getting a bit dizzy here.

“Emergency planning is inherently flexible and consideration of sensitive receptors such as children in emergency planning is an integral part of federal and provincial emergency decision making. In the event of an actual accident with this level of predicted risk, decision makers could further mitigate the risk in those areas most likely to be affected through the administration of KI pills or by evacuation. [pg. iii in “Extended executive summary.”] The weirdness of this will become apparent in the Summary/Take-Away sections. When it is revealed that what really seems to be the plan, if a serious accident happens, is to have the Province tell everyone to “shelter in place.” I.e,. stay in your house with the windows & doors closed, people (use some tape maybe, eh?).

 “Canadian nuclear power plants are safe. Following the Fukushima accident, the CNSC Task Force recommendations further strengthened each layer of defence built into the Canadian nuclear power plant design and licensing philosophy to ensure that the likelihood of accidents with serious radiological consequences is extremely low, with an emphasis on severe accidents. In this study, had all of the plant-specific design features, operator actions and other Task Force recommendations been fully credited/realized, the likelihood of a severe accident would have been lowered and the release of radioactive material considered would have been significantly reduced. It means that a severe accident would be extremely unlikely to arise or practically eliminated.” [pg. 73]

Communications: Being Upfront

Now, this comes up a lot! Repeatedly, actually.

“Psychosocial effects would be anticipated for all scenarios and could include fear of radiation exposure, anxiety, and stress. Clear, credible and regular communication from responsible parties before, during and after the emergency would help to minimize these effects. In addition, these effects would be expected to decline rapidly once the affected population returns to their normal life patterns. For non-human biota, like birds and mammals, no acute effects would be expected.” [iii of “Extended executive summary.” Italics mine]

 (Return to normal life patterns after a serious nuclear accident; really?)

“The CNSC Integrated Action Plan applies to all operating nuclear facilities and the CNSC. The areas for continuous improvement that emerged from the Plan are:

  • strengthening defence in depth
  • enhancing emergency response
  • improving regulatory framework and processes
  • enhancing international collaboration
  • enhancing communications and public education[Pg.9; emphasis mine]

“Dissemination of information and raising awareness regarding emergency planning through various means by those organizations with emergency planning responsibilities is done on an ongoing basis. In the event of an actual incident, effective, coordinated communication amongst responsible organizations is essential before, during and after the actual incident.[pg. 32, emphasis mine]

Ineffective communication and/or coordination of measures to protect the populations at risk will have a similar consequence. These effects are likely to extend to residents in the Secondary Zone [listen up, Torontonians!], who are likely to be less familiar with the plant and associated emergency plans, if they feel they are not receiving the information or assistance they need in a timely way. [pg. 67, in section 6.4 on Psychosocial effects; quite interesting!; emphasis mine]

“Clear, credible and regular communication from responsible parties before, during and after the emergency would help to minimize these effects as would transparent decisions (e.g., based on health-based limits and other factors) for the return of residents to their homes and daily lives.” [pg. 67]

 ** I am pretty sure the citizens of Durham Region/Toronto will be very happy to hear CNSC being so encouraging of wide-open communications. Because in Durham Region, citizens received an emergency brochure in Fall 2012 in which the word “nuclear” was not even mentioned! [AreYouReady] Durham Region residents do not feel they are being openly communicated with. Because they are not. Being openly communicated with. Just saying.  

In DNA we’re aware that this sentiment is also expressed at the international nuclear agency level. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has stated in their Publication “Lessons Learned from the Response to Radiation Emergencies (1945 – 2010),” (IAEA, August 2012) a comment in the chapter “providing information and issuing instructions and warnings to the public,” about the importance of providing information to the public on protective actions to be taken in event of an emergency in advance of any emergency for threats such as Nuclear Power Plants. They state “This will engender confidence – the knowledge that the officials have their interest at heart – and, by doing so, improve compliance with protective action recommendations in the event of a real emergency. In addition, there will be a better understanding of the systems used to warn them of an emergency.” [emphasis mine]

The ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) backs up this IAEA advice; note their comment in ICRP Publication 109, which recommends engagement with stakeholders and discussions of the plans, including with members of the public. The rationale is that “Otherwise, it will be difficult to implement the plan effectively during the response. The overall protection strategy and its constituent individual protective measures should have been worked through with all those potentially exposed or affected, so that time and resources do not need to be expended during the emergency exposure situation itself in persuading people that this is the optimum response.” (at 42; again, emphasis mine.)

Seems like the big nuclear agencies are really big on open communication lines. Well, talking about them, anyway.

** Now we just have to make sure that OFMEM (Office of the Fire Marshall & Emergency Management in the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services) and DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office) personnel get the memo!

We need to get that review of provincial nuclear emergency plans out from behind those (very) closed doors.


The severity of the impacts of the Chernobyl & Fukushima disasters is not only minimized throughout this report, I have to state categorically that there are outright lies about health impacts from these two INES Level 7 nuclear disasters.

I suggest readers check the claims made on pg. 65 of the study (link at top of post). These can be immediately identified as pure nonsense.

Simply outrageous. Please refer to past posts on this blog about Chernobyl and Fukushima (which contain many useful links). Health effects go far beyond merely thyroid cancer, ‘though we have learned that the thyroid cancers suffered by the children of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were numerous as well as aggressive. (The CNSC study conveniently mentions the country where KI was pre-distributed, and leaves out the ones where it was not.)

Please also note that even for this non-severe accident study, with all the KI & evacuations conveniently being done before the study kicks in, & all of the assumptions being “conservative,” child thyroid cancer is projected to go up.

“Although the results of this study indicate what appears to be a large increase in the risk of incidence of thyroid cancer in children, this would not equate to a large increase in the actual number of thyroid cancers. With rare cancers any additional risk appears to be a large increase above the baseline.” [pg. 60] Two comments: # 1. I can’t make sense out of that. # 2. I call it minimization.

Report Conclusions (from the Executive Summary, pg iii)

QUOTE Emergency planning is inherently flexible and consideration of sensitive receptors such as children in emergency planning is an integral part of federal and provincial emergency decision making. In the event of an actual accident with this level of predicted risk, decision makers could further mitigate the risk in those areas most likely to be affected through the administration of KI pills or by evacuation. [emph. mine]

In summary, this study has responded to the Commission’s request to evaluate the human health and environmental consequences due to radiation exposure from a severe nuclear accident. The study is of a theoretical nature, using hypothetical severe accident scenarios. Overall, while conclusions point to a non-detectable increased health risk for most of the population, the theoretical increased childhood thyroid cancer risk findings in relatively close proximity to the DNGS further strengthens the continued importance of considering sensitive receptors (i.e., children) in emergency planning, such as KI pill administration.

From a risk acceptability perspective, the ability of the PNERP to effectively reduce the health risk, combined with the very low likelihood associated with severe nuclear accidents given Fukushima enhancements (i.e., such an event will be practically eliminated), allows these risks to be effectively managed to an acceptable level in alignment with international risk and radiological frameworks. END QUOTE from study; all underlining is mine.


  1. The study seems to be telling us that all will be well. “It can’t happen here.” The plants are safe & we can rely on the provincial nuclear emergency response plan to protect our health if a serious accident happens (the response to the nuclear accident will protect us; we need not worry about what the plant spews into the air & the water. Hmmmm; does this make sense to you??)
  2. The study is characterized by circular reasoning, faulty logic, contradictory claims & in some cases, outright lies (there are even things I’ve left out because this posting would go on forever. Please read it for yourself & see).
  3. But! Open communications about emergency plans are roundly encouraged & emphasized over & over & over again.
  4. It still seems eerie the way this circular thing is going on with CNSC relying on the Province, knowing that the Province seems to be relying on the CNSC, and knowing what I know about how the Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee (NEMCC) operates; namely, behind very closed doors (no minutes provided, even if one has attended one of these meetings, as an NGO person, by invitation) & with heavy attendance from all levels of the nuclear industry itself. Too many fingers in that messy pie (all listed here) to leave me with any confidence in the ability of emergency response to proceed seamlessly if the you-know-what hits the fan (so many cracks for things to fall between, it is almost literally dizzying).
  5. Even this study seems to acknowledge that KI pre-distribution will not protect us from a serious accident (not that a serious accident is what was being studied or reported on; it isn’t).
  6. The CNSC has tons of faith in the PNERP (Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan) to look after us all in the case of a nuclear accident. In fact, it almost seems to suggest that the emergency plan itself will keep us safe & healthy. Which kind of doesn’t really make much sense & seems more than a little bassackward, but then … whatever (I think I am repeating myself here. Sorry. This just really boggles the mind).
  7. “It can’t happen here” is still very much the mantra of the nuclear industry (previous post  explains the history of this assumption, as well as the issue of the planning basis that nuclear emergency plans are … planned around).
  8. Evacuations are messy & potentially dangerous, you see (so this report points out on pg. 69) so the Province might well just suggest that everyone kind of uh, you know, sit tight in their houses if one of the plants blows. They call this “sheltering in place.” My take on this study is that the odds are good if push comes to shove, we’ll all be advised to tape up windows & doors & hunker down & sit it out. This flies in the face of those big international nuclear agencies (IAEA & ICRP) that have pointed out that most North American homes are not suitable for sheltering in. IAEA Guide GS-G-2.1 points out “typical European and North American homes and their basements may not provide adequate protection.” ICRP Publication 109 states that buildings constructed of wood or metal (as opposed to solidly constructed buildings) are “not generally suitable for use as protective shelters against external radiation, and buildings that cannot be made substantially airtight are not effective in protecting against any exposures.”


  1. The nuclear industry pays considerable lip service to the need to communicate openly & ahead of time. Then they throw the ball to provincial “authorities” to do the mop-up & decide on whether to evacuate people or let them rot in their houses.
  2. Good lip service about protecting children – but again, toss the football to the provincial authorities to actually do this.
  3. It may not be a very good idea to place our trust in the “authorities” to “look after us” if a serious nuclear accident occurs. But then, I doubt you’ll be surprised to hear me say this after all of the above.
  4. While the nuclear industry pays excellent lip service to the notion of communicating openly, I am very skeptical about these claims. But let’s the rest of us communicate openly, shall we? Let’s speak up!
  5. Reports like this one from the nuclear industry are time-consuming & headache-inducing to spend time on – but you know what? They are NOT rocket science, & anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence is quite capable of reading & making sense of them. No, I’m not saying they’re enjoyable; they make my head hurt. But I can read between the lines, & we all need to be able to do that … don’t we?
  6. And then, speak up. (see # 4)

1 more thing: get this!

I read the Fukushima – the story of a nuclear disaster book again this summer.

Mind-blower of a book, that’s the truth (posting about it here).

Guess what TEPCO (the utility that owns/runs the Fukushima plant & believe it or not, is doing fine financially even though the costs of the accident are probably in the process of bankrupting the country?) said at one point?

They blamed the nuclear regulator for not regulating them!

I think we ought to keep this in mind here. Our “regulator” here is not really regulating either. And our provincial authorities seem to be fine with this. This could lead to some catastrophic results.

Which maybe they will blame on us, for not paying close enough attention; who knows?

Collusion among nuclear industry/regulators/government departments is not only a Japanese phenomenon; not at all. It is a global problem, & frankly, it is in evidence right here in Durham Region / Ontario / Canada.

So sorry to be the bearer of uncomfortable news, dear Reader. They do say the truth will set us free.


Recent Relevant Postings on this Site


** a message from the CNSC on Sept. 21/15 reads: “Further to the August 2015 version of the study that was made available on request, the CNSC has corrected figures in tables A1.1 and A1.2. These changes do not impact the conclusions of the report.” Severe Accident Study-Sept’15

Featured post

It can’t happen here! / Severe Accident Study? / It’s the Planning Basis, Stupid!

“It can’t happen here.”

This is what the nuclear industry would have us believe.

A serious nuclear accident (a Level 7 on the INES – International Nuclear Event Scale – like Chernobyl & Fukushima) “can’t happen here.”

This (false) belief is why the “authorities” refuse to actually plan for a serious accident.

If they planned for “The Big One,” they’d have to change the “planning basis” around which Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans are made. & then “beef up” plans for a serious accident. This would cost the nuclear industry (& our government?) money. They seem to be agreed that they don’t want to do this. Yes. It does appear as though the folks who “protect” us really apparently have little desire to do so.

** A recommendation went to the Ontario Cabinet calling for a change in the planning basis, btw, way back in 1993. 22 years ago. The Chernobyl accident had happened in 1986. So the Cabinet had this studied & it was recommended to them that the planning basis be changed to deal with a more serious nuclear accident. But … it never happened. See Planning Basis Change – pages 84-100.

Who is Responsible for What?

The federal government is responsible for licensing nuclear plants (all nuclear facilities). The government agency in charge is the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

CNSC holds public hearings to review licence applications for matters such as the Bruce Power generating station, Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s requests for licences for the Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations, the Chalk River facility (& many others too numerous to name: uranium mines, nuclear research facilities in university locations, etc. etc.).

Problem is, the CNSC grants licences quite as though it were a Coke machine dispensing bottles of Coke. Pop in your change, out pops a Coke. Pop in your licence request, out pops a licence. I say this advisedly, btw, being a CNSC watcher for almost ten years now.

Read How Harper turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog’ to understand this better.

Off-site Emergency Planning

This is a provincial responsibility.

So the feds license the plants, and the Province is in charge of the “off-site” emergency plans. In other words, the nuke industry will mind its own facilities, but beyond the site boundary – beyond that metal fence – it is our provincial (& regional) governments that will pick up the pieces (e.g. carry out evacuations).

Actually, to be more accurate, a literally dizzying # of government ministries, departments, agencies and municipalities have a finger in the nuclear emergency pie. (See list in posting here.) Exactly the right # to pretty much guarantee that if an accident happens, so many things will fall between the cracks that emergency response will be slow, inefficient & utterly inadequate (as was the case in Japan, where the “chain of command” broke down, KI pills were not distributed, people died during evacuation, some people were sent in exactly the direction the radiation plume was heading, & some were not evacuated until more than a month after they should have been).

And, I almost forgot to mention, our provincial government (specifically, OFMEM or the Office of the Fire Marshall & Emergency Management under the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services) seems to have no plan or desire whatsoever to change the planning basis. If you want to find out what they are up to there, you have to pry the secrets out of them using Freedom of Information requests. A discerning listener could tell by what OFMEM’s Mr. Suleman said at the Bruce hearing on April 16th, 2015 that they have no intention of changing the planning basis. (April 16th transcript is linked here; relevant remarks by Mr. Suleman on pages 41 & 45 in particular & also 51, 84, 265. Relevant comment about responsibility for evacuation being municipal, by Mr. Nodwell on page 266).

But It Can’t Happen Here … right?

This is the line nuclear regulators have been using ever since the early 1980s, right after the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident (much TMI info here. Please note that the site creator, Arnie Gundersen, worked for the nuclear industry himself at that time).

It can’t happen here. It’s virtually a nuclear industry/regulator mantra. They said it post-TMI, & they said it post-Chernobyl, & they said it post-Fukushima. And they are still saying it … but why in heaven’s name is anyone still listening??

In the U.S., the federal nuclear regulator (Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC) sat on a study post-TMI that provided inconvenient results as to the likely costs of a nuclear accident there.

As is very thoroughly explained in the book Fukushima – the story of a nuclear disaster, the NRC basically adopted the position “the chances of an accident severe enough to produce such death and destruction were so slight as to be hardly worth mentioning.”

So the sweeping under the carpet of facts inconvenient to the nuclear industry (& its so-called regulator, please note) began long ago.

Early 1980’s.

In Canada, we see, the sweeping began post-Chernobyl when the Ontario Cabinet’s recommendation (after having sent a committee off to study it) to change the planning basis was somehow mysteriously swept under the carpet, & disappeared into the sunset.

The Cabinet called to have the planning basis changed – in 1993. Post-Chernobyl, long pre-Fukushima. 22 years ago. It never happened. It’s not happening now, either. The nuclear industry has very long arms, & they can make things happen. Most especially, they can make things (a lot of things) NOT happen, also.

Inconvenient Truths: then & now

The only way to keep everybody quiet (if not necessarily “happy”), it seems, is to go on with this charade of “It can’t happen here.”

So the U.S. regulator, & the Japanese regulators (almost dizzying the # of agencies with fingers in the regulatory pie over there, but the Fukushima book explains how the regulator(s) there took its/their cues from the U.S. NRC) & unfortunately, the Canadian “regulator,” have been preaching “It can’t happen here” ever since the 1980s.

But not only in the U.S. & Japan (& Canada). Global problem.

The inconvenient truth of the potential for a nuclear accident ANYwhere there is a nuclear facility is so … inconvenient, it takes really a lot of noise to wake up all the sleeping souls who are busy denying the possibility.

You have to make really a lot of noise before anyone with any power or influence pays attention!

What about Durham Region?

Post-Fukushima accident (that plant is still a radiation-spewing machine, btw, & will be for a very-very long time; very nasty recent events), a skeptical GTA (Greater Toronto Area) public demanded at the 2012 Darlington hearing that our federal “regulator” – the CNSC – study the potential impacts of a severe nuclear accident.

The CNSC tribunal ordered CNSC staff to do such a study.

“Inconvenient” results were encountered (same way it had happened in the U.S. post-TMI, right?).

So CNSC senior staff caused the study to disappear, & a less-serious accident study was conducted instead. All this uncovered by Greenpeace Access to Information digging.

Read Request for Ruling Aug.2015

Déjà vu already … hmmm??

Who(m) You Gonna Trust?

Well. Seems like we can’t really trust the nuclear industry (take a gander at this list of nuclear accidents since the 1940s, eh?).

& we can’t trust the regulatory agencies (see above).

The so-called “science” of nuclear “regulators,” among other things, is very very suspect indeed. I recall hearing senior CNSC staffer Dr. Greg Rzentkowski, when asked by the CNSC tribunal head at the Pickering Hold Point hearing (May 2014), about the safety of CANDU reactors & likelihood of an accident, reply “… we can say the risk is zero, because there was never a significant accident in the CANDU fleet.” (Pg. 132 of the Pickering Hold Point transcript – & a pretty interesting exchange it is, too!)

Whoa. Really? That’s how risk analysis works?? Zero probability of event in the future … ‘cos it hasn’t happened yet??

Not too sure anyone really wants to take that assurance to the bank! (Or to their insurance agency, but anyway you are not insured against a nuclear accident, dear Reader. Nope. You are definitely, definitely not. Don’t take my word for it; ask your agent!)

So It CAN Happen Here!

If you live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), this matters.

It matters because an awful lot of us are living in the Secondary Zone (50 K around the two plants). Pretty sure I live in the Secondary Zone of both plants, actually, though I live in Toronto’s east end.

What we know from the Chernobyl & Fukushima disasters (accident is really too mild a word) is that evacuations took place to considerable distances. Chernobyl still has a 30K exclusion zone around it, 29 years later. In Japan, American service people were ordered evacuated out to 50 miles (not kilometres), & the citizens of Iitate (25 miles/40 kilometres away) were very belatedly evacuated on April 22nd, having been left for over a month right in the place where the radioactive plume was going – but that information was ignored because it was … inconvenient. Some people had to relocate six times or more. I wish I was making this up. (1000s or 10s of 1000s are still out of their homes & the Japanese government is trying to make people return to areas of too-high radioactivity. You didn’t think this 4 1/2 year old crisis was over, did you??)

We are not ready for a Level 7 accident here. If anyone tells you we are, s/he is not telling you the truth. S/he may be deluded, s/he may be confused. But to say we are prepared for a serious nuclear accident is not the truth.

Just think how quickly Lake Ontario, source of drinking water for millions could become undrinkable. Sobering.

What to Do? What to Do?

  • Attend the DNA event on September 17th DNA Sept. 17 event
  • Attend the September 23rd event in Toronto.
  • Become informed. Do some reading. The DNA site has many useful postings (see list below), & each one contains useful links to yet more information.
  • Become a volunteer for Greenpeace or Durham Nuclear Awareness.
  • Check this out! Go to this site to find out how many would need to be evacuated if a serious accident happened at Pickering or Darlington (scroll down on the list for our local reactors).
  • Consider taking part in the CNSC hearing scheduled for Nov. 2-5. Details here.
  • Consider talking to your local politician(s) – whether you live in Durham Region or Toronto. Quite likely s/he/they don’t understand the planning basis issue, or that the Severe Accident Study is a sham (see previous post for useful links re: this study).
  • Ask yourself this: if a serious nuclear accident happens, do you know what to do? Where to go? How to reunite with your family members if they are evacuated when you’re not with them? Where evacuation centres will be located? This article clearly indicated that people in Pickering & Clarington are ill-prepared for a nuclear accident. We need to get “the authorities” to prepare better, & then tell us all about the careful plans they have made … don’t you think?


Recent, Relevant Postings on this Site

Featured post

Darlington / DNA Event / Severe Accident Study (Not)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is asking for a 13-year licence to refurbish (i.e., rebuild) the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station’s 4 aging reactors. The Darlington licensing hearing is coming up the first week of November.

Hearing details from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) here.

Deadline for submissions = September 28th.

** More to come soon on why 13 year licence is a bad idea.

Learn more about this hearing & its implications for everyone in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) at DNA’s upcoming Sept. 17th event in Oshawa.

Thursday, Sept. 17th, 7 – 9 pm
Room 106
Trent University’s Oshawa Campus (55 Thornton Road South)


A panel of experts will discuss nuclear safety, emergency planning & environmental impacts to Lake Ontario in preparation for the November hearing on the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station refurbishment.

Expert Panel:

  • Mark Mattson, President, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
  • Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director & Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
  • Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Nuclear Analyst, Greenpeace

DNA Sept. 17 event poster.

The Severe Accident Study (not)

You can read the Severe Accident Study. (if you want CNSC to mail you a hard copy, write to info@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca & ask for one.)

My time is a bit limited at the moment, so for now I’ll simply provide some key links you can use to find out more information about this “severe accident study” … that is really not a severe accident study at all:

How Harper turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog

Darlington: It’s Not Worth the Risk

More Related Information:

Direction sign to Nukes

<< these distances measured from downtown Toronto>>

Featured post

Nuclear Refurbishment: Did You Know?

What you may not know about nuclear refurbishment:

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is requesting an unprecedented 13-year license for the continued operation and “refurbishment” of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. In the past, licenses OPG has received have always been for 2-5 years, maximum. This request will come before a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in early November of this year.

Unfortunately, it seems most people know very little about the nuclear industry & how it actually operates. The technology involved is complex, to be sure. However, one requires neither a detailed understanding of nuclear reactor technology, nor a degree in rocket science, to understand these basics:

  • Nuclear energy is fraught with potential dangers, & accidents are possible at any nuclear facility
  • Accidents result in catastrophic widespread, long-lived consequences to human beings & everything else that constitute what we’ve come to call “the environment”
  • Nuclear waste is unimaginably toxic & so extraordinarily long-lived we cannot even properly get our minds around the time frames involved.

This posting will provide readers with a few facts about refurbishments that they simply might not otherwise hear about.

Refurbishment is a nice, innocuous-sounding word … but what it actually means is, re-build. The 4 Darlington reactors have reached the end of their intended shelf life, & now their operators (a very large number of people paid very large salaries indeed) want to rebuild them. They could also be decommissioned, i.e., shut down, instead; that too is an option.

The estimated cost of the Darlington rebuild is somewhere between $8 & $14 billion, according to not-yet-final figures projected by OPG. This massive and wildly expensive rebuild project is anticipated to take part over many years. At public expense.

BUT … every nuclear project in Ontario has gone over-budget (and past projected deadlines). According to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance all past nuclear projects have gone over budget by 2 ½ times. In this case, then, the eventual cost could reach $32 billion. Taxpayers’ money.

Nuclear refurbishments create a lot of NEW nuclear waste. Unfortunately, after 70 years of nuclear waste creation, no safe solution has yet been found for the storage of these 70 years’ worth of nuclear wastes. The (now former) head of OPG (the $1.8 million/year Tom Mitchell), said at a nuclear waste industry conference in September 2011, The amount of nuclear waste in the world is expected to grow due to refurbishments, new build activity and the decommissioning of reactors.” Mr. Mitchell referred to the handling of nuclear waste as a “values-based activity” (a rather subtle way of saying there is plenty of money to be made from it). * Plenty of information about the waste issue here.

In 2009, during refurbishment work at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, hundreds of workers were exposed to plutonium-laden dust. No satisfactory explanation has ever been given as to why this was not prevented, or why the workers had not been provided with respirators. When asked at a Joint Review Panel hearing on the proposed DGR (DNA’s 2013 presentation can be found here) CNSC staff scientist Patsy Thompson said “Bruce Power has a healthy safety culture for the following reasons: the alpha-event was unforeseen for reasons that I don’t have right now; there was no evidence that there was a potential for this event, so it’s not something that Bruce Power or its employees decided to ignore;” [transcript, pg 159]

This is an … explanation??

In Québec, when it was learned how costly the refurbishment of the Gentilly-2 reactor was going to be, the plant was ordered by the Québec government to be shut down. Hydro-Québec’s François Bilodeau had admitted at a nuclear industry ‘Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration for Canada’s Nuclear Activities’ conference held in Toronto in September 2011 that the refurbishment was expected to create 5 times as much nuclear waste as already existed at the facility.

While so self-evident as to surely not even really need stating, there is no plan in place for the additional wastes that will be created if this refurbishment proceeds (or for the 70 years’ worth of waste already in existence & also lacking anywhere to be safely & reliably secured and stored). The Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations are already host to a grand total of 1,112,860 used fuel bundles (Pickering has 667,639: 406,315 “wet” & 261,324 “dry” – or did as of June 30, 2013); & Darlington has (or rather had, as of June 30/13) 445,221 (338,510 wet; 106,711 dry). You can locate these figures in this NWMO document (in a table on pg. 3). All dressed up, as it were, & just … absolutely no place to go.

So, in Quebec the refurbishment costs & waste quantities led to an end to nuclear power in that province, while in New Brunswick, greater-than-anticipated quantities of refurbishment-created nuclear wastes at Point Lepreau led to the shipping of some to Tennessee, where it was to be incinerated … & the ash later returned to Canada.

** I learned these facts while attending a nuclear industry conference on ‘Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration for Canada’s Nuclear Activities’ held in Toronto from September 11-14, 2011. Learned lots at this conference!

From the final program provided to attendees (on pg. 25), “In short, Point Lepreau GS [Generating Station] has been challenged during the outage due to the amount of low and intermediate level waste that has been generated compared to that which was expected, which has driven the need to develop a new waste management strategy in the middle of the outage. The paper [New Brunswick Power Nuclear’s Charles Hickman was to present] presents an overview of pre-outage waste handling, what process changes and schedule changes occurred during the outage, and provides a discussion of the operational and financial consequences of those changes. Key issues highlighted the paper include for adequate provision of waste management facilities during large outages, the importance of ensuring that contractors have a stake in waste minimization activities, and long term waste management implications that need to be considered for large outages.” (Conference program)

Nuclear waste is a very, very serious problem (& that is a very serious understatement!) – one to which there is as yet no solution anywhere in sight. Not here, not “there,” not anywhere on the planet!

To many people, it seems like a really good idea (& time) to stop creating any more of it.

At the very least, speaking up about the lack of wisdom of granting OPG a 13-year license for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station seems a highly advisable course of action. More to come on this topic soon.

More Information:


Relevant Quote:

“While we may learn from the past, we don’t seem to learn much.” – Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress

* more relevant quotes on this page


Featured post

Environment groups urge release of disaster scenarios report

** watch the 14-minute news conference here!

Environmental groups urge release of nuclear disaster scenarios report

The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, August 19, 2015 10:29AM EDT

OTTAWA – Environmental groups are urging the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to release a study on nuclear disaster scenarios that they say was suppressed.

The commission released a study last year looking at health and environmental consequences of accident scenarios, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, but the groups say it wasn’t released in full.

Greenpeace, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and other environmental organizations say emails obtained through access to information requests show management at the nuclear commission censored the original draft.

Related Stories

Canadian nuclear power plants completing upgrades prompted by Fukushima
They say the original study analyzed the impacts of a Fukushima-scale accident at the Darlington nuclear plant, 70 kilometres east of Toronto, but that wasn’t included in the version released to the public.

The groups cite an email from the director of the Darlington regulatory program division that says it would become a “focal point of any licence renewal” and would be used “malevolently” in a public hearing.

The nuclear commission is holding a hearing today in Ottawa on Ontario Power Generation’s application to extend the operating life of four aging Darlington reactors and the environmental groups want the Fukushima-scale analysis released before public submissions are due next month.


News Release

Aug 19 2015

(Ottawa) ‐ Environment groups are asking the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) today to release a suppressed study detailing the weaknesses of offsite emergency response at the Darlington nuclear station in the event of a Fukushima‐scale accident.

“The CNSC has betrayed the public trust by concealing a study revealing risks to Toronto. The study should be released so these hazards can be addressed transparently and appropriate emergency plans put in place,” said Shawn‐Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace.

The CNSC is holding a hearing today in Ottawa on Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) application to extend the operating life of the four aging Darlington reactors 60 km east of downtown Toronto. The procedural request asks for the suppressed accident study to be released by next month so its findings can be used in public submissions to the second round of public hearings scheduled for November.

“Following the Fukushima disaster citizens asked the Commission to assess whether emergency response in the Toronto could cope with a major accident at Darlington. It is alarming the CNSC would withhold objective information on the public safety risks,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

In 2014, the CNSC did release an accident study and claimed it responded to public concern. But according to Access to Information, the public study is profoundly different from the original draft censored by CNSC management. The censored study analyzed the impacts of a Fukushima‐scale accident at Darlington, but when apprised of the results, senior management instructed staff to redraft the study to consider a much smaller accident.

“This is yet another example of how CNSC isn’t accountable to Canadians or objective on nuclear risks. It is past time for the next government to clean up the CNSC by insisting that they put the public interest above that of the nuclear industry,” said Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR).

The groups that filed the request include CELA, CCNR, Durham Nuclear Awareness, Greenpeace, New Clear Free Solutions, Northwatch, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and Sierra Club Canada.

‐ 30 ‐


Mary Ambrose, Communications Officer, Greenpeace, 416‐930‐9055
Dr. Gordon Edwards, President, CCNR, 514‐839‐7214
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, CELA, 416‐662‐8341 (cell)
Shawn‐Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst, Greenpeace, 416 884 7053 [Eng/Fr]


Related Blog Posts


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Fukushima: What Really Happened?

A detailed account of what took place at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant beginning on March 11, 2011 is provided in the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists (The New Press, 2014).

On the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Web site there is a detailed description of what the book covers.

You’ll find reviews of the book here and here. (Of course, if you do a search on the book’s title, you’ll encounter more than just these two.)

The book is pretty well-indexed, so readers can look up words/phrases such as “beyond design basis” or “sea wall” or “potassium iodide” or “complacency and overconfidence” & find all the pages on which the particular topic is mentioned. There is also a glossary of terms.

As the list below indicates, the book goes into much detail about earthquake & tsunami research (both what was known & what was ignored), how the Japanese nuclear regulator operates, how TEPCO (owner/operator of the reactors at Fukushima) operated in the years before the disaster & then during the early days of the disaster, how the media in Japan operate, how emergency planning broke down, etc. etc.

Covered very thoroughly indeed, toward the end of the book, is how the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) operates – which, as it happens, has a major bearing on how the Japanese regulator operates.

Much of what this book reveals is enough to cause nightmares, or at the very least, some lost sleep – especially if you live in the neighbourhood of an aging nuclear reactor –  or 10, as we do here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

A list of important things covered in the book:

  • Emergency exercises are good mostly for PR purposes
  • Emergency plans fell apart badly in Japan
  • “Defense in depth” is not something that can be relied upon
  • How information about genuine risks (earthquakes, tsunamis) is swept under the carpet
  • “It can’t happen here” has basically been the nuclear industry/nuclear regulators’ mantra ever since the Three Mile Island accident (March 1979)
  • Regulatory agencies cannot be counted on to regulate
  • Risk analysis is not a real science & is essentially meaningless

Direction sign to Nukes

Topics the book covers

  • Information about Japan’s history of earthquakes & tsunamis & technology related to predicting/preparing for them
  • A day-by-day accounting of the accident’s progression in the early days: quite detailed & technical
  • Explanation of what is meant by “design basis” & design-basis accidents
  • U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) involvement, including specifics about NRC head Gregory Jaczko (including his 2012 resignation)
  • Related information about U.S. reactors of similar design (General Electric boiling water reactors or BWRs)
  • Corruption at TEPCO
  • Collusion between nuclear industry & government
  • Manipulation of public opinion to favour nuclear energy
  • Revolving door between regulator & nuclear industry
  • Infrequency of inspections by the regulator (NISA)
  • Falsified reports, repairs that were not made, employees fired for reporting problems (** hair-raising information in Chapter 2)
  • Reliance on computer modelling vs. actual reality (i.e., ignoring evidence of possible tsunami if computer model says it is unlikely)
  • Communication manipulation (& “bungled communication”) during early days of crisis (Chapter 3) – among TEPCO officials, between various groups, to the public
  • No monitoring of quantity of radioactivity being released (Ch. 3)
  • “Lackadaisical attitude” toward robustness of spent fuel pools (Ch. 3)
  • Description of the lamentably poorly-thought-out care of spent fuel storage
  • Dangerousness of crowded fuel pools at U.S. reactors
  • Evacuation of U.S. citizens within 50-mile radius
  • Safety of dry cask storage at site during earthquake & tsunami (pg. 83)
  • “Sluggish” response of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (p.105)
  • Media coverage: choppy, contrast between the foreign & the domestic (Ch. 5) which gave TEPCO a “free ride” (p. 107)
  • Explanation of Japanese “press clubs” (p. 110)
  • Bungled gov’t handling of radiation exposure/health risks (p. 108)
  • Public’s loss of trust in government due to not being told the truth (p. 111)
  • U.S. & its 31 boiling water reactors – questions about U.S. safety with respect to earthquake risks
  • Evacuees’ situation (some “forced to relocate 6 times or more”) – pg. 117
  • Futaba Hospital: bungled evacuation. Patients who died (pg. 118)
  • Iitate: symbol of breakdown of gov’t response (25 miles /40 km from plant. Gaps/failures in emergency planning: zones arbitrary, evacuations far beyond 10K necessary, people evacuated in direction plume was going, hospital patients abandoned & then died. Etc. Failure to trust data saying plume going that way. Early awareness of it being a “hot spot” – yet a long delay in evacuation) (pg. 118, Ch. 5)
  • Three Mile Island: March 1979: lessons NOT learned – Davis-Besse 1977 incident (Ch. 7)
  • 2011 incidents at 2 U.S. nuke plants (Fort Calhoun-flooding & North Anna-earthquake)
  • Value (or not) of biennial emergency exercises – pg. 154 (Ch. 7)
  • Nearly 160,000 evacuees (pg. 157, Ch. 8)
  • Fallout contamination (pg 159, Ch. 8)
  • Anti-nuclear protests at prime minister’s office in Tokyo (pg. 163, Ch. 8)
  • NRC safety measures discussions (pg. 167, Ch. 8)
  • Japan’s PM goes anti-nuclear (pg. 171, Ch. 8)
  • More NRC safety discussions
  • TEPCO bailouts
  • Gregory Jaczko’s resignation (Pg. 177, Ch. 8); Allison Macfarlane replaces him
  • “It can’t happen here” myth at the NRC (Chapter 9)
  • Inadequacy of reliance on “design-basis” accidents/rules (pg. 188, Ch. 9)
  • The problems with risk analysis & “probabilistic risk assessment” (PRA) – pg. 192
  • The issues with GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors (pg. 195, Ch. 9)
  • U.S. loose rules emulated by Japanese regulator (pg. 202, end of Ch. 9)
  • NRC manipulations to present nuclear as safe; unbelievable! (Ch. 10)
  • The SOARCA (State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses fiasco): “Science” manipulated, obfuscated; this must be read to be believed! (Ch. 10)
  • Proposed nuclear re-start in Japan & associated citizen protest (Ch. 11)
  • Back to business as usual at the NRC (Ch. 11)
  • Re-org of Japanese regulator (pg. 240, Ch. 11)
  • Great map of evacuation zones illustrating the lack of “neatness” of where fallout goes, & where evacuations are necessary (pg. 242, Ch. 11)
  • Political scene in Japan – Abe re-elected (pg. 243, Ch. 11)
  • Finger-pointing after the accident, including TEPCO blaming first Mother Nature, then the regulator for not being strict enough (pg. 244, Ch. 12)
  • “It can’t happen here” mindset, both in Japan – & the U.S. (pg. 247)
  • Casual attitude of politicians in U.S. (pg. 247)
  • Fires at U.S. reactor, new regs, regulations NOT enforced (pg. 247-8, Ch. 12)
  • Other examples of problems at U.S. reactors (pg. 249)
  • Defense-in-depth both “a blessing and a curse” (pg. 250); its strengths & limitations
  • Problems with evacuation in Fukushima situation (pg. 251)
  • Various things that were not planned for in emergency planning (pg. 251)
  • NRC’s 2011 NTTF (near-term task force, immediately post-Fukushima) & how NRC task force recommendations for change in U.S. regulation came to naught (pg. 252-3)
  • NRC refusal to address beyond-design-basis accidents (pg. 252-3)
  • Industry’s FLEX (“diverse and flexible mitigation”) strategy: how this prevented necessary changes at the NRC & avoids dealing with stubborn risks/issues (255-6)
  • NRC’s continued defense of 10-mile planning zones in spite of lessons from the experience proving inadequacy of this approach (pg. 256, Ch. 12)
  • NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service) proposal re: U.S. planning zones for emergency measures, i.e. evacuation, potassium iodide (pg. 256, Ch. 12)

** Conclusions: need for NRC changes in safety analysis

“In the end, the NRC must be able to tell the American public, “We’ve taken every reasonable step to protect you.” And it must be the public, not industry or bureaucrats, who define “reasonable.” (pg. 260, Ch. 12)

This document provides a lengthy compilation of quotations from the book. Many more pithy & informative quotations could have been included if recording all these quotes were not so time-consuming!

It’s a very important book.

Why this posting now?

The problems that this book details about the intransigence of the nuclear regulatory agencies have not begun to be solved. The problems of collusion among regulators & industry & governments have not begun to be solved.

Since most “average citizens” (& even politicians) seem unaware that these problems exist (while those in power who do know, deny them), rassling with & solving them will be a very great challenge indeed.

In Durham Region (& of great interest across the entire Greater Toronto Area), we’re about to witness an expensive hearing process involving Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s request to Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), for a 13-year license for the aging reactors at Darlington (hearing to take place in early November).

People need to understand the kinds of problems that led to the Fukushima disaster that are laid out so very thoroughly in this book.

“Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight. Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate.” (from the introduction to the book)

The Fukushima disaster was not caused by the earthquake or the tsunami; it is a man-made disaster that could happen anywhere there are nuclear reactors.

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management (held in Ottawa) that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

** Note: same deal here in Ontario! Emergency planning predicated on a minor accident, not a major one. Plans = utterly inadequate. Recent editorial from Japan regarding evacuation issues there.

“The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 were natural disasters of a magnitude that shocked the entire world. Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” – Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairman of The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Pg. 9)

“A “manmade” disaster: The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)” — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 16)

“The Commission has verified that there was a lag in upgrading nuclear emergency
preparedness and complex disaster countermeasures, and attributes this to regulators’ negative attitudes toward revising and improving existing emergency plans.” – from The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 19)


** Other recent, relevant posts on this blog:

2 outstanding (& related) articles:

P.S. on October 17/15: On October 14th, DNA donated copies of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ book to each of Durham Region’s eight municipal Councils (& the Regional Chair) & reminded them all of inadequate nuclear emergency planning as well as the untruth of the “It Can’t Happen Here” myth. Media article here

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Nuclear Safety? High profile former supporters now campaign against

A growing number of high-profile, high-powered people – politicians, leaders of some countries, the former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a former major U.S. utility head, a former nuclear industry insider – are now dissenting vocally (& loudly!) from the nuclear scene … on the grounds of lack of safety.

This is a no doubt incomplete list, but it does provide a pretty clear idea of an important phenomenon.

Nuclear energy is not safe.

It is not clean.

It is not reliable.

(Parenthetically, it is also no solution for climate change, & the highly dangerous wastes it creates will remain so for millennia).

And, more & more people are getting it – some of them people “in high places.”

Below you’ll find a list of people who formerly occupied public positions in which they favoured nuclear power, but who are now speaking out against it.

As well, there are some links to articles & YouTubes you can peruse for yourself to find out more about what these people are now saying publicly.

Finally, there are some relevant quotations from people whose words it would be wise for us to heed.

Gregory Jaczko, former Chair of the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a body to which he belonged from 2005-2012 & was appointed as chair by President Obama in 2009), wound up resigning in 2012, in the wake of U.S. reaction to the Fukushima disaster that began on March 11, 2011. He now advocates a world-wide nuclear phaseout. In the 2015 documentary film ‘Indian Point’ he explains that seeing at close range what took place in Fukushima changed his views on nuclear power utterly.

Two former premiers of Japan, Naoto Kan (who was in that position at the time the Fukushima disaster began) and Morihiro Hosokowa now speak out against nuclear energy (quotes below). Naoto Kan joined demonstrators to protest the re-opening of the Sendai plant.

Dave Freeman is former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA. Originally pro-nuclear, it was at first the economics that made him conclude nukes make no sense. After a visit to Chernobyl in the early 1990’s, he became passionately anti-nuclear. In a riveting 23-minute interview (link below in the Resources list) he makes it clear that even now, in his late 80s, he remains a forceful & passionate speaker/presence.

Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer & former nuclear industry executive, was fired for raising safety issues. He’s become an articulate global nuclear critic since the Fukushima disaster began on March 11/11. His Web site has vast quantities of good materials, including a recent 18-minute video that succinctly lists four common issues/problems demonstrated by the TMI (Three Mile Island), Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, has said, “We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of renewable energy as fast as possible. It’s over. Fukushima has forever changed the way we define risk in Germany.”


Peter Bradford, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, now speaks out about why we cannot rely on nuclear power.

Dr. John Gofman, M.D./Ph.D., helped isolate the first gram of plutonium for the Manhattan Project, but later become a passionate, vocal dissenter. Gofman wrote a brilliant, scathing book called “Irrevy” An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power.

Linda Keen, former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), was fired as CNSC head because she had begun to have concerns about nuclear safety.

David Lochbaum is a nuclear engineer who formerly worked in the industry, and now works for the Union of Concerned Scientists



This June 4, 2013 event “Fukushima Daiichi Accident: Lessons for California” in San Diego, California featured as speakers

  • Arnie Gundersen
  • Naoto Kan, former Prime Minister of Japan
  • Dr. Gregory Jaczko, former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Peter Bradford, former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979.

(Recent) 18 minutes on four common issues/problems demonstrated by the TMI (Three Mile Island), Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents

Dave Freeman “Kill nuclear power before it kills us!” interview (23 minutes)

Accidents Info:

  •  partial nuclear accidents list here
  • Chalk River accidents here
  • very long list of accidents over the decades since 1940 here

Relevant Quotations

“I deeply regret believing in the security myth of nuclear power.” – Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the 2011 Hiroshima Day commemorations

“It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants.  And so, the one way to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.” – former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

“I foolishly once believed the myth that nuclear energy is clean and safe. That myth has completely broken down. Restarting nuclear reactors while we still have no place to dispose nuclear waste is a criminal act toward future generations.”Morihiro Hosokawa, 79th Prime Minister of Japan

“If a Secretary of Agriculture endorsed better meat inspection, you wouldn’t have a debate of near religious fervor about whether that person was pro- or anti-meat, whether he had sold out to the vegetarians. You’d debate whether the stricter regulations made sense. It’s somehow unique to nuclear power that, when one refuses to have nuclear power on the industry’s terms, one gets chucked into a bin labeled ‘anti-nuclear.’ ” ~ Peter A. Bradford, former Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. March 9, 1982.

“Now, I think if I were to talk to an average person on the street and say that, people would say no, that [Fukushima] was a pretty significant event. And I personally think that’s right. I think that this was a significant event, and it was an unacceptable event. But if we look at the risk models that we use today, it is not — in our risk models — an unacceptable event.” Gregory B. Jaczko, then Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (February 2012)

“We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of renewable energy as fast as possible. It’s over. Fukushima has forever changed the way we define risk in Germany.” – Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel

“Kill nuclear power before it kills us!” – Dave Freeman, former head of the TVA, former nuclear energy promoter, now a loud nuclear dissenter

“…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in an interview about the 3rd anniversary of the Fukushima accident (March 2014)

“No matter how far you’ve gone down a wrong road, TURN BACK!” – Source unknown

“It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.” – Source unknown

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

“We should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.” – Albert Einstein

“Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing the power to make great decisions for good and evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” – Einstein (1946)

“Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!” ~ Albert Einstein

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein

* More relevant quotations on this blog here



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Nuclear Health? Pssst… Well-kept secret deal

If you live in Durham Region (east of Toronto, Ontario, & home to the Pickering & Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations), you may have wondered why no one ever seems to talk about the health impacts of the two huge nuclear complexes (10 reactors) in your midst.

Actually, if you live anywhere with a nuclear plant in the area, you may wonder at the deep silence of local “health authorities” when it comes to this important topic. (See maps here, here & here for locations of Canadian/U.S. reactor sites).

Wonder no more! :)

All is explained in this episode of ‘Nuclear Hotseat.’

Alison Katz, a former 18-year employee of the World Health Organization (WHO) lays it all out in a fascinating interview with Nuclear Hotseat host Libbe HaLevy.

From the Hotseat site: Alison Katz is a sociologist and psychologist who worked inside the World Health Organization (WHO) for 18 years.  Now a leader within Independent WHO, an organization dedicated to revealing the lies and coverups perpetrated by WHO, Alison dissects the history, politics and manipulations of the United Nations agency we’re supposed to be able to trust to safeguard the world’s health – especially in nuclear matters.  Special focus on Chernobyl and how the WHO worked to diminish our awareness of this nuclear disaster’s true impact on the world’s health.  This is a Nuclear Hotseat Exclusive and an Encore Presentation.  (Originally broadcast on September 17, 2013.)


  • The 1959 deal between IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Association) – the global nuclear “regulator” (that is also a nuclear energy promoter) and WHO. A deal that effectively shut down any research by the global health body into radiation’s health impacts. (See the agreement for yourself here.)
  • What the term “nuclear establishment” means. (Hint: it means more than just nuclear industry. It may come as a surprise to learn how deeply entrenched this industry’s tentacles are in governments at all levels; not just the immediately obvious & visible. To understand this scene, one must get a grasp on the word “collusion,” & recognize its global nature).
  • How/why it is that WHO actually has ZERO expertise in matters of nuclear health impacts. (Ask yourself this: if the world’s global health organization has zero knowledge, how or why would our federal, provincial, regional or municipal agencies be any different??)
  • An 8-year vigil outside WHO’s global headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland by the group Independent WHO.
  • The outrageous minimization (& outright lies; my phrase!) about the true nature of the health impacts of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
  • Genetic effects – which increase with succeeding generations.


Brevity is good! There is so very much more that could be said, but let’s leave it here.

I do highly recommend listening to this interview, especially if you have concerns or questions about the health impacts of the use of nuclear energy, & a curiosity about the silence of our health organizations.

Below is a list of some other resources you might wish to consult. No need to pursue them all! Any single one on its own will no doubt provide some surprises.


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Bruce Hearing: Emergency Planning — Notable

In April 2015 the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) held a 3½ day hearing to consider Bruce Power’s request for a 5-year license for the 8 reactors it operates near the town of Kincardine, on the shores of Lake Huron.

The discussions that took place around emergency planning issues are of great relevance to Durham Region, with its own 10 reactors (6 at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, 4 at Darlington NGS), and with OPG (Ontario Power Generation) slated for a hearing with CNSC later this year to ask for a 13-year license for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) is a Durham Region-based group opposed to the use of nuclear energy. Our position is based on concerns about

  • health
  • safety
  • long-term waste disposal/waste storage/decommissioning
  • inadequate nuclear emergency planning.

You can find many posts on this blog about emergency planning. In fact, most of the postings here are about emergency planning, since that is the group’s current focus. (On this page you’ll find all postings grouped by topic.)

This posting is to list some notable things that were said at the recent Bruce hearing. (You can find a Webcast of the hearing here).

The quotes referenced in this post all come from April 16th. The written transcript for that day is linked here.

The presentations of particular interest to me were those of

  • Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) — pages 28-86 of the transcript. YouTube available here
  • Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) — pages 101-116, YouTube here.
  • Jutta Splettstoesser — pages 249-277, YouTube here.

Important things that emerged/became obvious at this hearing, vis-à-vis emergency planning:

  1. Much last-minute scrambling took place on the part of Bruce Power (& the municipality) to make emergency plans around the Bruce plant appear to be thorough & up-to-date. This became apparent during Ms. McClenaghan’s remarks on behalf of CELA, as referenced above, found on pages 28-86 of the transcript. Sudden new plans had materialized, an old missing Appendix N from the plan that was continually referenced never actually did materialize. Bruce Power was quick to claim that much had been done, but as Ms. McClenaghan pointed out: “These are old plants, operating for decades and it’s not as though they were just commissioned last year and it’s not as though emergency planning is a new topic. And in my report I indicated to you the recommendations that were made 20 years ago—over 20 years ago by a Cabinet committee and I use that as the framework for some of the recommendations. That report from the Ontario Cabinet doesn’t appear to have been acted on, at least that we can see because, for example, the planning basis hasn’t been revised and the emergency planning zone hasn’t been revised.” (transcript, Page 32-33).
  2. Ms. McClenaghan was complimented by three different sources for her/CELA’s work on nuclear emergency planning over the past few years. The first to do so was OFMEM (Office of the Fire Marshall and Emergency Planning) staffer Dave Nodwell (pg. 42/5 of the transcript). The second was CNSC tribunal member Rumina Velshi (pg. 51/62) and the third, CNSC staffer Ramzi Jammal (pg. 70). While DNA is fully aware of Ms. McClenaghan’s determined & persistent efforts, to hear these complimentary remarks being made was highly unusual. The contributions of public interest groups are almost never acknowledged in this way.
  3. The actions taken to update emergency planning around nuclear plants in the past few years can be attributed not to proactive action from the CNSC, not to proactive efforts from the nuclear industry, not to action from the various government agencies tasked with nuclear emergency planning – but as a result of the Fukushima accident — and the ongoing public pressure, pure and simple. Claims had always been made that reactors were “safe.” Now, post-Fukushima upgrades, they are said to be “even safer.” There is no question that public pressure is essential for creating better emergency planning.
  4. Yet another sign that public pressure regarding nuclear emergency planning is required & is recognized as valuable: OFMEM’s Al Suleman saying (in reference to Bruce County resident Ms. Splettstoesser’s intervention), “I just want to comment that the information provided by the intervenor is actually very useful and very timely for us.” (page 264 of transcript, 267 of the pdf document).
  5. Ms. McClenaghan’s reference to a Cabinet document from September 1993 reveals that the planning basis for a nuclear emergency in Ontario was the subject of study going back to 1988, i.e., 2 years after the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident (now 27 years ago). Cabinet called for a change of the planning basis in 1993. Yet it has still not been changed.

** Note: in order to obtain the supplementary document that Ms. McClenaghan referenced (pg. 32 of the transcript), I wrote to the CNSC. You can find it here CELA Supplem-Bruce Hearing-Apr’15 copy. Cabinet material begins on Page 84. If you need other documents pertaining to the Bruce hearing, check out the CNSC site here.     &/or write to Interventions@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca

Some other notable things that were said:

Dave Nodwell, Program Manager (of nuclear emergency planning) from OFMEM (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services) said “One of the keys here is the operationalization of the plans, and that will be the next step. And really, in my mind, that is the most important step because you can put into a plan that you will be doing this, this, and that. But really, it is about drilling down in terms of how exactly that is accomplished and making sure that you can operationalize those things.” (pg. 43 of transcript)

In other words, plans are all very well … but you have to put serious meat on the bones of the plans, not just talk-talk-talk-talk-talk, then expect things to miraculously come together in the midst of the chaos of a nuclear accident. (Things did not come together well, post-Fukushima accident, as testified to here, & at greater length, here.)

Tribunal member Dr. Barriault (Dr. Barriault is an M.D. member of the CNSC tribunal) said “I don’t know if it’s fair to ask the CNSC to put it as part of their objectives to do emergency response evaluation on a regular basis and basically to assure that the work’’ being done because what I’m seeing is probably similar to when we had the problem with the alarms. We’re seeing that people are saying, well, yes, it’s part of my job, but it’s not my whole job. It’s somebody else’s and somebody else. But the difficulty with all of that is that nobody’s assuring itself that it’s being done, and done in a timely manner.” (pg 270 of transcript)

(Note of explanation: “alerting” (i.e., sirens) around the nuclear plants was ordered to be improved back in 1993. It took more than 20 years for this work to finally be carried out. This is what Dr. Barriault was referring to.)

Rumina Velshi (also a CNSC tribunal member) said “I have a suggestion for the Province that I hope you take into consideration. You have mentioned that as you are revising the PNR [my note: this should read PNERP] you are engaging the stakeholders and that public consultation won’t start until next year that stakeholders, NGOs like CELA, I think, are critical stakeholders that you are probably better off engaging earlier rather than later. You have already talked about the value of their recommendations, so something for you to consider.” (pg. 83 of transcript/p. 86 in pdf)

Re: KI pills being needed BEFORE exposure:

Dr. Sandor Demeter. “As a physician advisor to CNSC, I just wanted to make sure that there was a clarity. The intervener initially said that the benefit of the pill is within two or three hours and I want to make sure that there’s a clarity that two to three hours is before they are exposed.

There’s about a greater than 95 per cent chance of blocking, if you know that the wind is coming and you take it before you’re exposed; about a 90 per cent of blocking if they get it the same time you’re exposed; and diminishing returns thereafter.

So it’s not to say that that’s not going to happen, I mean, the access is there and you have to deal with the demographics and the population density, but I wanted to make sure that there was clarity of that statement that within two or three hours is not after they’re exposed, it’s before they’re exposed.” (pg. 115/118)

 ** For the record, look at the American Thyroid Assoc-2014 brochure regarding the use of KI, which lays out sobering information about the lack of KI protection for the children of Ukraine & Belarus, leading to aggressive thyroid cancers there.

 The ATA endorses a geographically wide pre-distribution scenario that is also endorsed by the World Health Organization – WHO. (This information is in the brochure.)

To Conclude:

The recent Bruce hearing is very relevant to the Durham situation in a number of ways.

First of all, Bruce Power asked for (& was recently granted) a 5-year license. (OPG is asking for a 13-year one for Darlington, hearing to take place later in the year.)

Secondly, all these discussions around emergency planning have every bit as much relevance and importance to the citizens of Durham Region as they do to the Bruce County community. Bruce Power has 8 operating reactors. Durham is home to 10 aging reactors all told, between the Pickering & Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations.

Nuclear emergency planning is a provincial responsibility. It can all seem more than a little confusing, with so many different levels of government involved (see posting here for a list of them all). There are indeed a great many cracks for things to fall between – and things definitely did fall between the cracks in Japan, where among other issues, the “chain of command” failed.

Bottom line?

Nuclear emergency planning in Ontario is not adequate. Not up-to-date, not up to snuff.

This has to change.


** American Thyroid Assoc-2014 brochure

** Quotations page posting for insights about nuclear emergency planning, its weaknesses, & including official conclusions about the causes of the (very much ongoing) Fukushima disaster.

** Recent Fairewinds YouTube (17 minutes) that lays out 4 common elements to the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

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Chernobyl: 29 years

Today, April 26, 2015, marks the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

A sober occasion for those of us who pay attention to such things, who know that serious nuclear accidents (far too understated a term, really) are occurring somewhere in the world about every 10 years.

(Accidents compilation list here; important to note that the Chalk River accidents are not even included in that accident compilation, which is not 100% complete!)

There is such a great deal one could say – but I’m just going to provide a list of items I’ve run across recently about the Chernobyl disaster (or been reminded of, as the anniversary approached), and suggest that you peruse/pursue the links if you feel so inclined.

Chornobyl: posting collection from Ukraine source

Chernobyl: A human perspective (several links here, all on the Fairewinds site)

Chernobyl, 29 years on: A race against time

Chernobyl to Fukushima – a variety of items, including food security post-accident

Containing Chernobyl’s Deadly Legacy As the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster approaches, work continues to safely confine radioactive waste remaining at the site with the construction of the largest moveable structure ever created on land

Forest fires threaten new fallout from Chernobyl

Haunting short YouTube of footage captured by a drone

Health Effects of Chernobyl 25 years after the reactor catastrophe (April 2011)

Interview with Chernobyl Cleanup Survivor, Natalia Manzurova

Tragic Truth about Chernobyl

Voices from Chernobyl 


Finally, it’s important to remember/be aware that there remains a 30-kilometre exclusion zone surrounding the site. To put things in perspective, the city of Toronto is located within 30 kilometres of a major nuclear generating station (the Pickering NGS).


Direction sign to Nukes


Parting thought: “Chernobyl is a word we would all like to erase from our memory. But more than seven million of our fellow human beings do not have the luxury of forgetting. They are still suffering, every day, as a result of what happened…The exact number of victims can never be known.” – former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan


p.s. if you are open to having your heart break, & almost certainly shed some tears, I highly recommend this documentary about the children of Chernobyl & area, whose hearts are not merely emotionally scarred, but literally physically damaged (to this day children are being born with damaged hearts). Tears, as I say, highly likely (just as true for the short YouTube ‘Eternal Tears.’)


Chernobyl Heart

Eternal Tears (12 minute YouTube)



Fallout is forever…

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Bruce Hearing: Relevant links

Last week (April 13-16), a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing took place in Kincardine, Ontario, at which Bruce Power was trying to make its case for a new 5-year license.

& how is this relevant for Durham Region, you ask? CNSC will later this year conduct a hearing on the request of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS) to obtain a 13-year license. Some patterns seem likely to recur.

I was unable to take in the whole hearing (one is able to watch CNSC hearings live via Webcast), but did take a good look at the agenda, at who-all was taking part, & watched some key presentations.

A few things stood out for me, bearing in mind that I’m a veteran of CNSC hearings by now, having watched &/or taken part in a significant number of them over the past 9 years.

One thing that quickly became clear is that Bruce Power is quite liberal in providing financial resources/assistance to a rather large number of organizations in the area. One wonders how objective all these organizations are in giving assessments of the “hand” that is “feeding” them, as it were, when it comes time to present at the hearing.

A second notable circumstance: there was a long parade of corporations in attendance, corporations that stand to take in considerable revenues from the continued operations of the largest nuclear plant in the world (so it is said; who knew?), making their cases for the CNSC to license Bruce Nuclear to go on operating.


These quotations ran through my mind during the hearing:

  • “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (Upton Sinclair)
  • “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” (Thomas Sowell)
  • “It’s not really fair to ask for an objective opinion from anyone who has a vested interest in what they’re selling.” (Alan Cassels, pharmaceutical policy researcher, in an article in August 2014 Common Ground magazine)

& finally,

Reflecting on the most important lesson of Fukushima being that, before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.” (So said Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, at an international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa in April 2013.)

** More quotes about nuclear emergency planning

+ a significant one on the value of big biennial emergency exercises, here.

Alright. Moving along.

While watching parts of the hearing, a few key information links came to mind:

(You can listen to an interview on this topic here.)

More Links:


I cannot resist concluding with one final quotation:

“There has not existed the slightest shred of meaningful evidence that the entire intervention process in nuclear energy is anything more than the most callous of charades and frauds.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg 125>


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Three Mile Island: March 28, 1979

A few odds & ends to peruse on the 36th anniversary of a nuclear accident about which many, many lies were told (& continue to this day to be told):


From Arnie Gundersen (who btw was working within the nuclear industry when this accident took place) – important insights:

March 25, 2015

Three Mile Island: Writing the Nuclear Accident Playbook

By Arnie Gundersen

People today who are familiar with social media think that TMI means “Too Much Information”. But to me, and anyone listening to the news in 1979, TMI will always represent the disaster at Three Mile Island, when the public received too little information, not too much.

At the time of the nuclear disaster at TMI, there were plans to build more than 200 nuclear plants in the US, with some projections topping 1,000.  Today, less than 100 nuclear plants are operating in the US.  During the 1970’s, the total amount invested in those early plants easily exceeded one trillion dollars.  If the public became fearful of nuclear power, then the nuclear industry, investors, and banks that had loaned money would face huge losses, so the nuclear industry and nuclear regulators tried desperately to minimize the significance of what was happening at the crippled reactor.

The pattern of denial created by the nuclear industry during the TMI meltdown had at least five steps in its playbook:

  1. Make it appear that “authorities” have the situation under control.
  2. Delay any evacuation orders for as long as possible.
  3. Claim radiation releases are much lower than they actually are.
  4. Claim radiation exposures are acceptable and that no one will die.
  5. And lastly, minimize conflicting information given to the press through paid off experts.

The formula for damage control at TMI was designed by the nuclear industry composed a one size fits all “playbook” the industry has followed for all nuclear catastrophes since TMI.  Comments made during the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi by utility owner Tokyo Electric could easily mimic those made at Chernobyl and TMI!  When Maggie and I saw these old tricks being played again at Fukushima Daiichi, we dedicated ourselves to ensuring that the public has an accessible resource on which to rely that provides accurate information, and thus the Fairewinds videos were born.

In this video posted to commemorate the TMI disaster, I discuss the pattern of denial regarding nuclear power plant failures and meltdowns, not just for TMI but also for Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi as well.  We at Fairewinds Energy Education hope you will watch it and think about sharing the true facts with others.

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Fukushima: Emergency Planning? Failing Grade

Today – March 11, 2015 – marks the 4th anniversary of the ongoing nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

There is so much one could say about this horrific accident.

One could speak at length about collusion between nuclear regulators & industry – and how this collusion exists not just in Japan, but worldwide.

How the sea wall built to protect the site was not improved in spite of the fact that the deficiency was known about for years before the accident, & never rectified (considerable detail about failures on the part of TEPCO & the Japanese regulator laid out in this very thorough, very readable report commissioned by the Japanese parliament).

One could discuss reactor cores & how far away “hot particles” were found.

Or the daily-daily-daily ongoing release of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, causing who knows what unthinkable damage to all the life in that precious, irreplaceable body of water.

Or, perhaps, the huge piles of contaminated soils & debris being collected & stored in plastic bags (one related photo here) – bags with pretty short half-lives, you might say; soon enough, no doubt, to re-release the contaminants & re-contaminate earth, water & air) – or in some cases, debris incinerated & thus dispersed hither & yon on air currents (& via bodies of water).

The scope of this disaster, in other words, is nothing short of massive.

Let’s talk instead about the people of Japan.

& how emergency preparedness failed utterly to … prepare them.

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management (held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

The “planning” for a real-life accident was not, shall we just politely say, realistic or, to use a term so frequently used by the nuclear industry, robust.

First, there were delays in ordering evacuations, and information provided was sketchy and minimal. Many people were evacuated into areas where the winds were carrying the worst contamination. Information was not provided in timely or helpful fashion, and many were left to “shelter in place” and then later advised to evacuate. Many people died in hospitals.

From The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission: “A total of 146,520 residents were evacuated as a result of the government’s evacuation orders. However, many residents in the plant’s vacinity evacuated without accurate information. Unaware of the severity of the accident, they planned to be away only for a few days and evacuated with only the barest necessities. Evacuation orders were repeatedly revised as the evacuation zones expanded from the original 3-kilometer radius to 10 kilometers and later, 20 kilometers, all in one day. Each time the evacuation zone expanded, the residents were required to relocate. Some evacuees were unaware that they had been relocated to sites with high levels of radiation. Hospitals and nursing homes in the 20-kilometer zone struggled to secure evacuation transportation and find accommodations; 60 patients died in March from complications related to the evacuation. Frustration among the residents increased.

On March 15, residents in the zone between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant were ordered to shelter-in-place. Since the order lasted for several weeks, these residents suffered greatly from a lack of communication and necessities. As a result, the shelter-in-place order was then revised to voluntary evacuation. Again, information on the basis for revising the evacuation order was sadly lacking, and residents found themselves having to make evacuation decisions without the necessary facts. The Commission concludes that the gov ernment effectively abandoned their responsibility for public safety.” END QUOTE

People had not been provided with potassium iodide (called KI) pills ahead of time, or if pills were available, the order to take them was not given. (There is some scandal over some university people getting KI, but not sharing the pills with other citizens.)

The amount of falling between the cracks, miscommunication, failure to follow chain of command, delays, lack of transparency, failure to give accurate & timely information about evacuation? All of these were over the top.

The fallout since?

  • Families have been broken apart in a multitude of ways
  • Communities destroyed
  • People have been lied to about contamination levels
  • Health effects have been minimized & lied about
  • Children are being diagnosed with thyroid cancer (108, last I heard)
  • Workers are/have been exposed to high levels of radiation (and/or lied to)
  • Radioactive contamination is here, there & everywhere
  • 120,000 people are still living in temporary housing
  • Clean-up is being rushed so people can be told their homes are now “safe” to return to
  • Compensation programs are being manipulated
  • People are being discouraged from speaking out – even jailed for doing so, I’ve heard.


(Absurdly, TEPCO is doing just fine!)

Not a pretty picture.

But a disaster economically, environmentally/ecologically … and also a huge personal disaster for hundreds of thousands of people. Realistically, the entire country of Japan.

All these people, people like you & me, ill-prepared for disaster on such a huge scale.

Beyond our imagining, really.

In Durham Region (the entire Greater Toronto Area, in fact), we are similarly ill-prepared for a nuclear disaster.

A dizzying number of government departments (federal, provincial & municipal/regional) have a finger in the nuclear preparedness pie. (Have a look at what may be only a partial list here ).

To even the most un-trained eye, this list represents a daunting number of possible cracks for essential responses, communication & actions to fall between.

Simply mind-boggling.

Nuclear emergency exercises? Take a look at the previous post for an expert take on the real value of these expensive gatherings – designed to make the industry & responders appear ready for disaster, when in actual fact they are merely occasions for figuring out whether everyone has the right phone number to call.

Since March 11, 2011 & the frightening wake-up call of that massive accident, several countries have run, not walked, away from nuclear energy, Germany being one outstanding example.

“We want to end the use of nuclear energy and reach the age of renewable energy as fast as possible. It’s over. Fukushima has forever changed the way we define risk in Germany,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

In Switzerland, post-Fukushima, nuclear emergency planning has been upgraded to reflect the real-life possibility of a severe accident (instead of planning only for an event of minor severity), and pre-distribution of KI pills is being extended to everyone within 50 kilometres of their nuclear plants.

Here in Ontario, there is far too much complacency about nuclear safety & the real risks inherent in nuclear energy production. Complacency & lack of transparency are a dangerous combination.

Boxer Mike Tyson once said “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

A nuclear accident in Durham Region – so close to the large population centre that is the Greater Toronto Area – would be a horrific punch in the face.

We need more robust nuclear emergency planning – now.

Before an accident happens.


March 11, 2015.

Fukushima – 4 Years: Information Resources

Ten Lessons from Fukushima – brand-new booklet/project from Peace Boat group in Japan

Beyond NuclearFukushima Four Years On: will it happen here?

Beyond Nuclear Thunderbird newsletter on Fukushima

Fukushima Meltdown 4 Years Later2 videos on Fairewinds Energy Education site

More Fukushima info on Fairewinds site

Health Consequences after Fukushima Accident (+ other info) – 13-minute conversation with Dr. Ian Fairlie 

Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) information on Fukushima 

Quotations about emergency planning

The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (National Diet of Japan) – Executive Summary (88 pages; so worth reading! 88 pages sounds daunting but truthfully, there are many blank pages in the actual layout. Includes surveys of people & workers; so poignant to hear their voices explaining their experiences & frustrations).

The State of Affairs and Ongoing Challenges of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster  (Citizens Commission on Nuclear Energy, Tokyo, Japan)

UN’s UNSCEAR Fukushima Radiation Report Blasted by IPPNW’s Alex Rosen (if you do a search you can also find video on this)  — UNSCEAR = United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation; IPPNW = International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Books to Check Out:

Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, by Lucy Birmingham & David McNeill.

Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists.  [later posting here has a ton of info from the book]

** so many videos/YouTubes one can see too, of course…

5 recent ones:

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Emergency Exercises: valuable? Or mostly PR?

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is inclined to boast about the big May 2014 emergency exercise they held at Darlington last May (2014).

At a recent Durham Nuclear Health Committee meeting – the one held on January 23/15 (meeting minutes will eventually be posted here, several months after the meeting) – Jim Coles from OPG gave a long presentation about this major event that took place last May 26, 27 & 28th.

(We could back up here a little & say more about the Durham Nuclear Health Committee itself. How infrequently any information about radioactivity, radioactive emissions & human health ever comes up in these meetings, for example. But never mind. You should attend one of these meetings for yourself and see how they work. The meetings are not at all well publicized (you kind of have to know the committee exists in order to know it exists, if you see what I mean; it’s a very very very quiet little committee) but you can find the schedule here, or at least the date of the next meeting, & yes, members of the public are indeed permitted to attend.)

Just for the record, this year’s meeting schedule is

  • January 23rd
  • April 17th
  • June 19th
  • September 11th
  • November 20th.

(DNA members attend these meetings regularly; that’s how I know the schedule for the year.)

The major thing I wanted to share in this posting (now less than a week from the 4th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster; the ever-ongoing Fukushima disaster) is a long quotation from the Union of Concerned Scientists book Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan G. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

(You can find a review of the book here.  Later posting about the book here.)        

The book is very thorough, very detailed, in some places quite “technical,” but certainly well worth a read. So much has been learned, is now understood, about the real causes of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. How human error, unwillingness to spend the money to construct the recommended higher sea wall, and above all, collusion between the regulator and TEPCO, resulted in this horrific accident. (Excellent 88-page report here goes into great detail & spells out the role of “regulatory capture.”)

The authors of this book are very clear in their assessment of the value of occasional emergency exercises held to supposedly prove that all will run smoothly in the event of a nuclear accident.

[NRC refers to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. regulator of all things nuclear; the American counterpart to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, or CNSC.]

“In 1980, the NRC required that plant owners draw up evacuation plans for the public within ten miles of each plant. (Compare that with the NRC’s recommendation that U.S. citizens within fifty miles of Fukushima be advised to leave.) It also mandated that biennial emergency exercises be conducted at each nuclear plant site. During the exercise, a plant accident is simulated and the Federal Emergency Management Agency evaluates the steps local, state, and federal officials take to protect the public from radiation. In parallel, the NRC evaluates how well plant workers respond to the simulated accident and work with off-site officials.

The biennial exercises are better than nothing, but not by much. In the simulation, winds are assumed to blow in only one direction, conveniently but unrealistically limiting the number of people in harm’s way. The evacuations are only simulated, so there is no way to tell if the complicated logistics of evacuating all homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and prisons could be successfully carried out. Instead, the exercises merely verify that officials have the right phone numbers and contractual agreements for the buses to carry evacuees and the hospitals to treat the injured and contaminated. [emphasis mine].

These exercises only provide an illusion of adequate preparation. As the Fukushima experience painfully demonstrated, rapidly moving people out of harm’s way in the midst of a nuclear crisis is exceedingly difficult, yet critical.

Although the various Three Mile Island reviews converged on the need for major nuclear safety upgrades, there was no consensus on how wide-ranging the reforms should be. At the heart of the safety debate were these questions: Should the reforms address only the issues raised by the last accident? Or would that be tantamount to fighting the last war? If the next accident were triggered by a completely different event and proceeded along a different track, the failure of a too-narrow approach would be evident. Because of the NRC’s regulatory focus on design-basis accidents that followed a certain script, it had never taken a comprehensive look at the universe of beyond-design-basis accidents – that is, everything else that could go wrong – or the need to protect against them.”

From Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan G. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists.           <page 152-153>

Since most people are not liable to read the book, and could naively just accept at face value OPG/CNSC’s confident assurances about the readiness of nuclear industry & provincial/regional officials to handle a major disaster, it seems a good idea to share this assessment from recognized experts.

Finally, I would point you to a collection of news articles about last year’s big emergency exercise, & remind you that members of the public (the very citizens who would actually be most affected by a nuclear disaster, large or “small”) have little or no idea how they are expected to respond in the event of an accident.

These are some things to bear in mind as we contemplate the reality that the Fukushima nuclear disaster that began four years ago now, is a very very very long way from over.

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Municipal Candidates Overwhelmingly Favour World-Class Nuclear Emergency Planning for Durham Region

Whitby, October 14, 2014Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)’s municipal election survey indicates there is a near consensus among respondents that elected officials should advocate for the province to consult openly with the citizens of Durham Region on updating nuclear emergency plans, with the goal that revised plans will meet international best practices.

DNA posed three questions on this topic to the 209 candidates running for office this Fall. Candidates were asked:

1. If elected, will you advocate for world-class nuclear emergency plans that meet or exceed international best practices?

2. Do you support directing Durham Region staff to study and provide a report to Regional Council on international best practices for nuclear emergency plans?

3. Do you agree that Durham Region should request the government of Ontario to openly and transparently consult with the municipalities and citizens of Durham Region on new off-site nuclear emergency plans?

Responses were overwhelmingly in the affirmative on all three questions.

The overall response rate was 60%, with Oshawa’s being the highest at 73% and including three incumbent Regional Councillors and two incumbent City Councillors responding. Scugog showed the lowest rate of return, at 27%. No incumbent politicians in Scugog responded to the survey.

As DNA spokesperson Gail Cockburn comments, “With the recent KI pill pre-distribution motion passing unanimously at Regional Council in September, these survey results clearly establish there is both the need and the political will to strengthen nuclear emergency planning in Durham Region.”

DNA’s Web site shows results broken down by municipality so that citizens can easily see what their local candidates have stated publicly about the need to better protect Durham’s citizens in the event of a nuclear emergency. 

 30 –

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ELECTION 2014: 209 Municipal Candidates Surveyed

DNA conducted an election survey on nuclear emergency planning with all 209 candidates running for municipal office in the elections coming up on October 27th. All candidates in each of Durham’s 8 municipalities were included.

The questionnaire with its explanatory preamble can be found here.

** There is a near consensus among respondents that elected officials should advocate for the province to consult openly with the citizens of Durham Region on updating nuclear emergency plans with the goal that revised plans will meet international best practices.

Check out the comprehensive results in the documents below! Each individual document contains the questions, as well as overall results & individual candidates’ comments.

DNA Survey Results-Reg. Chair2

DNA Survey Results-AJAX2

DNA Survey Results-BROCK2

DNA Survey Results-CLARINGTON2

DNA Survey Results-OSHAWA2

DNA Survey Results-PICKERING2

DNA Survey Results-SCUGOG2

DNA Survey Results-UXBRIDGE2

DNA Survey Results-WHITBY2





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KI Motion – Sept. 17/14.

Durham Regional Council Meeting, September 17/14.


Moved by Councillor O’Connell, Seconded by Councillor Jordan,

“Whereas exposure to gaseous radioactive iodine following a nuclear reactoraccident is a serious concern because it increases the risk of thyroid cancer;

Whereas there are 10 operating nuclear reactors in Durham Region;

Whereas the timely ingestion of Potassium Iodide (KI) can block radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland and thereby significantly reduce the risk of thyroid cancer following a reactor accident;

Whereas other Canadian provinces with nuclear reactors (New Brunswick and Quebec) and other countries such as France and Switzerland pre-distribute KI to all residents, schools and businesses in proximity to their nuclear stations;

Whereas the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has proposed a new requirement for KI to be pre-distributed along with educational materials to all residents within the 10-km evacuation zone by the end of 2015;

Whereas the Government of Ontario has objected to the new requirement on jurisdictional grounds;

Now be it resolved that Durham Region requests the Government of Ontario, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the Durham Emergency Management Office and Durham Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to collaborate and ensure that CNSC’s proposed KI pre-distribution requirement is implemented by the operators by the end of 2015.

Be it further resolved that Durham Region requests the Government of Ontario and the CNSC to seek input from Durham Regional governments and their citizens on future changes to off-site nuclear emergency plans.

Finally, note that a copy of this resolution will be sent to:

  • All Durham Region municipalities
  • Durham Nuclear Health Committee
  • City of Toronto
  • City of Toronto Office of Emergency Management
  • Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
  • Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Canadian Association of Nuclear Host Communities
  • Bruce Power
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • Members of Provincial Parliament

– Granville Anderson (Durham)
– Joe Dickson (Ajax-Pickering)
– Christine Elliott (Whitby-Oshawa)
– Jennifer French (Oshawa)
– Tracy MacCharles (Pickering-Scarborough East)
– Laurie Scott (Haliburton/Kawartha Lakes/Brock)
– Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood)

  • Members of Parliament

– Colin Carrie (Oshawa)
– Barry Devolin (Haliburton/Kawartha Lakes/Brock)
– Chris Alexander (Ajax/Pickering)
– Corneliu Chisu (Pickering/Scarborough East)
– Erin O’Toole (Clarington/Scugog/Uxbridge)”



  • Councillor Aker
  • Councillor Ballinger
  • Councillor Bath
  • Councillor Chapman
  • Councillor Clayton
  • Councillor Coe
  • Councillor Collier
  • Councillor Diamond
  • Councillor Drew
  • Councillor Drumm
  • Councillor England
  • Councillor Foster
  • Councillor Henry
  • Councillor Jordan
  • Councillor McLean
  • Councillor Mercier
  • Councillor Mitchell
  • Councillor Novak
  • Councillor O’Connell
  • Councillor O’Connor
  • Councillor Parish
  • Councillor Perkins
  • Councillor Pidwerbecki
  • Councillor Rodrigues
  • Councillor Ryan
  • Councillor Woo

Members Absent:

Marimpietri, Neal

Conflict of Interest: None

<To locate official minutes for this meeting, go to this page on the Durham Region Web site. Once there, click on Minutes & Agendas. Once there, Select Regional Council from the list of options, make sure to select 2014 also, then click on search. What will come up is a page with dates, agendas & minutes. Select the minutes for Sept 17th & you’re away to the races!>

Note: for more information about KI on this blog, go to the Resources/Info page heading at the top & click on it.

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News Items: Councillor says pre-distribution could prevent ‘chaos’ during emergency

*** Durham Region.com Article on-line here

** Note on Sept. 25th – 2nd news item (in Oshawa Express) here

Potassium iodide pills could be distributed to Durham homes near nuclear plants

Councillor says pre-distribution could prevent ‘chaos’ during emergency

By Jillian Follert

DURHAM — Durham residents living within 10 kilometres of a nuclear plant could soon have potassium iodide pills distributed to their homes.

The move comes after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission proposed a new requirement for the pills to be pre-distributed to all residents living within the 10-kilometre evacuation zone, along with educational materials.

Bureaucratic red tape has held up the process, prompting local politicians to take matters into their own hands.

On Sept. 17 regional council passed a motion moved by Pickering Councillor Jennifer O’Connell and Ajax Councillor Colleen Jordan, that calls on local officials to implement the program in Durham by the end of 2015.

“This is simply putting the KI in the hands of residents, rather than in the hands of pharmacies hoping that people actually go there and pick them up,” Coun. O’Connell said. “What’s the point of having this if, in the event of an emergency, it’s not actually in the hands of residents?”

Coun. Jordan noted the pills are most effective when taken quickly and said leaving the pills at pharmacies could create a mob scene in the event of a nuclear disaster.

“It’s going to create a lot of chaos in the areas where pills are stockpiled,” she said.

Members of Durham Nuclear Awareness praised the council decision, saying it follows best practices in other communities.

In Quebec and New Brunswick, where Canada’s other nuclear plants are located, it is standard practice to distribute the pills to homes and businesses within a set radius every five years.

“We’re pleased Durham regional council is telling the Ontario government that public safety is a priority. This is the first concrete step we’ve seen to update Durham’s nuclear emergency plans since the Fukushima disaster in 2011,” said DNA spokeswoman Gail Cockburn.

Potassium iodide pills are currently available to Durham residents at specific pharmacies, and are also stockpiled at local schools, child-care centres and health-care facilities.

However, focus group research done for Ontario Power Generation revealed very few Durham residents had obtained the free pills.

Potassium iodide works by protecting the thyroid, the part of the body most sensitive to radiation.

The pills are most effective when taken immediately before or after a radiation leak — but they can have severe side effects, so should only be taken in an emergency.

Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan told regional council that Ontario Power Generation should be responsible for the cost and distribution of the pills, not the municipalities.

He said he has spoken with OPG officials and “the co-operation is there.”

OPG spokesman Neal Kelly says details are currently being ironed out between the various agencies involved.

“We will work co-operatively with the other agencies to develop plans that meet the needs of Durham Region residents,” he said.

The recommendation from the CNSC is part of an ongoing review of Canada’s emergency preparedness in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The motion passed by council directs the Durham Emergency Management Office and Durham’s medical officer of health to work with the Ontario government and CNSC to get the program off the ground.

Reporter Jillian Follert covers the City of Pickering and the Region of Durham for Metroland Media Group’s Durham Region Division.

** Note on Sept. 25th – 2nd news item in Oshawa Express here

** Note also! KI info on this site can be found here

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KI Motion Passes

** News release sent out yesterday

Regional Council supports anti-radiation pills for residents in Durham

Whitby, September 17, 2014 – Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) salutes Durham Regional Council’s decision to endorse the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) pills to over 200,000 residents within 10 km of the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations by the end of 2015.

Because KI pills can reduce the risk of thyroid cancer if taken soon enough after a reactor accident, they are already pre-distributed to families around the Point Lepreau reactor in New Brunswick, as well as in France, Sweden and Switzerland.

This summer the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said it wanted KI pills pre-distributed around Pickering and Darlington by the end of 2015, but the Ontario government is resisting new requirements on jurisdictional grounds.

Pickering Regional Councillor Jennifer O’Connell proposed a resolution at the September 17th meeting of Regional Council requesting that the province work with the federal government to ensure KI is distributed to residences in Durham Region by the end of 2015. The resolution passed unanimously.

“We’re pleased Durham Regional Council is telling the Ontario government that public safety is a priority. This is the first concrete step we’ve seen to update Durham’s nuclear emergency plans since the Fukushima disaster in 2011,” said Gail Cockburn from DNA.

Today’s resolution also calls on federal and provincial governments to seek input from Durham Regional governments and residents of Durham on any future changes to off-site nuclear emergency plans.

DNA is currently surveying candidates for municipal office in Durham about their views on updating Durham’s off-site emergency plans. The results of the survey will be published in October.

– 30 –

KI Resolution-Sept.17’14

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Nuclear Hotseat: great resource!

Nuclear Hotseat is a site offering weekly interviews with people in the know about a variety of nuclear issues/events.

Its main page is found here.

I recommend visiting that page, then clicking on the ‘Podcast/Blog’ tab at the top.

What comes up then is a listing of the interviews Libbe HaLevy has done in previous weeks/months.

They’re all extremely informative.

Of particular interest to people in Durham Region, I would guess, are these 2 recent ones:

Nuclear Hotseat #165: Dr. Ian Fairlie on Soaring Child Leukemia Rates near Nuke Reactors

Nuclear Hotseat #161: UN’s UNSCEAR Fukushima Radiation Report Blasted by IPPNW’s Alex Rosen

Though I’d venture to say every single interview/podcast is of potential interest, given Durham Region’s special status as host to not just one, but two major nuclear reactor complexes – both in rather startling proximity to Canada’s largest city, Toronto.

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Quotes Related to Nuclear Emergency Planning/Fukushima accident

** note on May 25 & July 31/15: I keep adding to these!

** Sept. 15/15: this list is now also available as a “page” running across the top of the site

“A major factor that contributed to the accident was the widespread assumption in Japan that its nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was simply unthinkable. This assumption was accepted by nuclear power plant operators and was not challenged by regulators or by the Government. As a result, Japan was not sufficiently prepared for a severe nuclear accident in March 2011.” [August 2015 Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Foreword by the Director General]

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management (held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

“The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 were natural disasters of a magnitude that shocked the entire world. Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” – Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairman of The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Pg. 9)

“A “manmade” disaster: The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)” — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 16)

“The government, the regulators, TEPCO management, and the Kantei lacked the preparation and the mindset to efficiently operate an emergency response to an accident of this scope. None, therefore, were effective in preventing or limiting the consequential damage.” — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 18)

“The Commission has verified that there was a lag in upgrading nuclear emergency
preparedness and complex disaster countermeasures, and attributes this to regulators’ negative attitudes toward revising and improving existing emergency plans.” – from The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 19)

“Evacuation zones/planning are inadequate all over the world.”2013 comment by Dr. Maureen McCue (M.D., Ph.D.), Physicians for Social Responsibility

“…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in a (4-minute) March 27/14 interview, discussing the 3rd anniversary of Fukushima accident (March 11/11)

Re: Failure to hand out KI Pills in Japan: “In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, several national and local government officials and advisers blamed the delay on a communications breakdown among different government agencies with responsibilities over various aspects of the disaster.

They also cited an abrupt move by the government shortly after the accident, when local officials raised sharply the level of radiation exposure that would qualify an individual for iodine pills and other safety measures, such as thorough decontamination.

“Most of our residents had no idea we were supposed to take medication like that,” said Juichi Ide, general-affairs chief of Kawauchi Village, located about 20 miles from the plant. “By the time the pills were delivered to our office on the 16th, everyone in the village was gone.” <from Wall St. Journal article, quoted in Watershed Sentinel> ** underlining mine

“Complacency and hubris are the worst enemies to nuclear safety.” — Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at USC who worked on the National Academy of Sciences July 2014 report that was reported on in the article below

Nuclear plants ill-prepared for worst-case scenarios, report says

Former PM of Japan: “Before the Fukushima accident, with the belief that no nuclear accident would happen as long as the safety measures were followed properly, I had pushed the policy of utilising nuclear power,” he wrote. “Having faced the real accident as prime minister, and having experienced the situation which came so close to requiring me to order the evacuation of 50 million people, my view is now changed 180 degrees.” – Naoto Kan, Former Prime Minister of Japan (From this article ‘Japan’s former PM tells of Tokyo evacuation risk after Fukushima’)

More from former PM Naoto Kan: “In spite of the various measures taken in order to prevent accidents, it is technically impossible to eliminate accidents, especially if human factors such as terrorism are taken into account. Actually, it is not all that difficult to eliminate nuclear power plant accidents. All we need to do is to eliminate nuclear power plants themselves. And that resolution lies in the hands of the citizens.” – from the article ‘Encountering the Fukushima Daiichi Accident’

The Fukushima nuclear accident was the result of “human error in which people failed to make the proper preparations.” – Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

“They’re protected against nuclear accidents – unless an accident actually happens.” – David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, speaking in March 2013 at Helen Caldicott Symposium on 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission): “We have defined safety measures against the things that we kind of know. An accident is going to be something that we didn’t predict,” he said [in this article]. ** Jaczko, as the article explains, resigned as Chair of the NRC in 2014, & now campaigns for a global nuclear phaseout. He is one of the many people interviewed in the 2015 documentary ‘Indian Point.’ (on Facebook here)

“It was a journey to hell without a map.” – Kai Watanabe, 27-year old maintenance worker at Fukushima plant who believed “Duty comes first.” (quoted in Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster)

From the Introduction in Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The story of Fukushima Daiichi is a larger tale, however. It is the saga of a technology promoted through the careful nurturing of a myth: the myth of safety. Nuclear energy is an energy choice that gambles with disaster.

Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight. Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate.

Although the accident involved a failure of technology, even more worrisome was the role of the worldwide nuclear establishment: the close-knit culture that has championed nuclear energy – politically, economically, socially – while refusing to acknowledge and reduce the risks that accompany its operation. Time and again, warning signs were ignored and brushes with calamity written off.” <Page vii> Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists

“What Dr. Gerstein shows is that reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness … They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … the leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.” – Daniel Ellsberg, quoted in the Marc Gerstein book Flirting with Disaster – Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental  (also quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima )

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Boxer Mike Tyson

** Great long quotation about the value of biennial emergency exercises in later posting here.

** (Recent) YouTube: 18 minutes on four common issues/problems demonstrated by the Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents (narrated by former nuclear industry exec/engineer Arnie Gundersen, who worked for the nuclear industry at the time of the Three Mile Island accident)

Nuclear “Regulatory Capture” — A Global Pattern


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Nuclear Emergency Planning: Did You Know?

** On March 11, 2011 a major nuclear accident took place in Fukushima, Japan. 146,000 people were told to evacuate in a 20-kilometre radius around the plant. 270,00 people remain away from their homes in northeast Japan since the tsunami/earthquake/nuclear disaster. A study carried out by the Japanese Parliament concluded in 2012 that the cause of the nuclear accident was “man-made” and cited collusion between the nuclear regulator and TEPCO.

In April 2013, Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated at an international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

The Nuclear Emergency Scene in Durham Region

1. A very large number of agencies are involved in nuclear emergency planning. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the (federal) Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) have responsibilities for on-site emergency response, while off-site emergency planning is the responsibility of the Province of Ontario. Within Durham Region, the Durham Emergency Management Office (DEMO) is responsible for implementing provincial plans. With the dauntingly large number of federal, provincial, regional and municipal agencies involved, there is a very real risk of bureaucratic mix-ups in the event of a major accident. Such mix-ups occurred both in Ukraine following the Chernobyl accident, and in Japan following the Fukushima accident.

2. Sufficiently detailed plans for a serious nuclear emergency do not currently exist. Plans currently in place under the PNERP (Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan), the TNERP (Toronto Nuclear Emergency Response Plan) & the DRNERP (Durham Region NERP) are for a smaller accident, not for a Chernobyl or Fukushima-style major accident or very large radioactive release. The emergency exercise carried out at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station at the end of May 2014 involved more than 50 agencies – but no members of the public – and was not planned around the possibility of a major accident.

3. The Ontario and federal governments have failed to review & revise the Province’s nuclear emergency plans to address accidents involving large radiation releases since the Fukushima nuclear disaster took place in March 2011.

4. Most citizens are ill-prepared to respond to a serious nuclear emergency – even those who live close to one of Durham’s two large nuclear generating stations. Current measures requiring personal emergency preparedness and/or possible evacuation are neither well-detailed nor widely understood. For example, most citizens are not aware that they are responsible for making their own evacuation arrangements in the event of an emergency (even if they don’t own a vehicle), what means of transportation to use if they don’t own a car, or how to effect family reunifications. (See article here.)

5. “Sheltering in place” (i.e., staying where you are when you are notified of a nuclear accident) may be an early instruction, but in the case of an actual release of radionuclides from a nuclear power plant, most ordinary houses will not provide adequate protection from all exposures, again stressing the need for effective evacuation planning. Evacuation plans and routes and locations of evacuation centres are not familiar or known to people in Durham Region or the Greater Toronto Area in general, who might have to evacuate quickly in the event of a serious nuclear accident at Pickering or Darlington.

6. The Province of Ontario determines the “zones” of notification in which public alerting after an accident & the distribution of potassium iodide pills (see below), must be carried out.  These zones are both arbitrary and inadequate, and in no way reflect the distances over which radiation may in actuality travel, or where dangerous hot particles may ultimately land.

7. Potassium iodide pills (known as KI pills) must be taken as soon as possible after a major radioactive release in order to prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine, possibly later resulting in thyroid cancer. This is an important action to reduce the risk of damage to the thyroid gland, but is only effective if taken at the right time (i.e., just before or at the very beginning of a radioactive release). It must be noted that KI does not prevent the absorption of a host of other radioactive isotopes that could be released to the air and unwittingly breathed in, and so, as already outlined, effective evacuation is also key.

8. Regulations about the distribution of KI pills are currently under federal review in Canada. In some countries (e.g. France and Switzerland) they are pre-distributed to all households within 10-50 km of a nuclear plant. The CNSC is recommending that regulations around KI pills be changed, and that KI be pre-distributed to all citizens within the 10-kilometre zone of any major nuclear facility. Ontario’s provincial government (which is in charge of Ontario’s off-site nuclear emergency plans) does not appear to be in support of this initiative. (See recent newspaper article here.)

9. On June 17th & 25th, Durham Nuclear Awareness made presentations & asked members of Durham’s Regional Council to advocate on behalf of its citizens for world-class nuclear emergency plans, and to ask the provincial government to conduct transparent public consultations with Durham Region and its citizens on revisions to the province’s nuclear emergency plans. (The text of our June 25th powerpoint presentation can be found here.)


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2 News Articles — KI pre-distribution issue

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission met at their headquarters in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) last week for 2 days (August 20 & 21st).

Agenda for the meeting can be found here.

** Meeting transcripts can be found here (August 20) & here (August 21).

One of the topics under discussion was a recent CNSC staff consultation on “Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response,” otherwise called Regulatory Document or REGDOC-2.10.1. There was a lengthy consultation period on this that began last Fall, & DNA was fortunate to take part in a phone conference on it back a couple of months ago, in June. This call involved mostly nuclear industry but also members of the public/NGOs who had commented during the consultation period. DNA had not submitted comments, but was permitted to take part in the call.

I watched last week’s August 20/21st CNSC meeting live via Webcast.

Some of the discussion was quite lively!

Of great interest lately has been to find out that Canada’s nuclear regulator is advocating for pre-distribution of Potassium Iodide (KI pills) within the 10-kilometre zones of nuclear power plants (of which Durham Region of course has two, 2 very large nuclear generating stations). But that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) & the provincial health ministry (which bears responsibility for KI distribution) & the Emergency Management Ontario branch (which falls under the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services, and yes, if you are not confused by now by all this, take a bow; it is very confusing to anyone not an expert in deciphering their way through bureaucratic mazes) have been/are resistant to this plan.

(Please refer to the previous posting to see a list of the # of federal, provincial, regional and municipal agencies with responsibilities vis-à-vis off-site response to nuclear emergencies.)

Pretty sure there is more taking place here than is immediately apparent.

Here are 2 media reports on the situation, both published after last week’s 2-day meeting.

As I say, there is more to all of this than meets the eye. For sure there are serious jurisdictional issues that are preventing the implementation of adequate public protection measures needed in the event of a serious nuclear accident.

Who is really in charge?

The 2 media items:

Note: Just added in some KI information resources here.

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DNA Presentation to Durham Regional Council – June 25th

On June 25th, 2014 DNA made a presentation to Durham’s Regional Council to ask for leadership in requesting that the Province of Ontario upgrade nuclear emergency planning.

Citizen presentations are limited to 5 minutes. The following information was presented to the Councillors in very considerable haste in order to meet the 5-minute deadline.

Presentation Title: Public Safety in Durham Region: Political leadership needed in upgrading offsite nuclear planning

(also here DNA to Reg Council June 25’14)

DNA Background

  • Working on Emergency Planning since 2012; regular at DNHC (Durham Nuclear Health Committee) meetings since early 2012
  • Sought expert help from Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
  • CELA’s expert has been on this issue since 1988, i.e., post-Chernobyl
  • CELA presented very comprehensive report to DNHC in September 2012 – & then at Darlington refurbishment hearing in December 2012 & Pickering hearings
  • DNA also invited to attend the Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee (NEMCC) meeting held in Toronto last November
  • On Monday (June 23rd) took part in CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) meeting/conference call re: recommended changes in EP measures – no one from DEMO or Region in attendance

DNA Take-Away?

  • Planning basis is not for major accidents, or for major releases of radioactivity
  • There appears to be much confusion among the public as well as among politicians as to who is responsible for what

Agencies Involved in Emergency Planning

DNA invited to attend Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee (NEMCC) meeting in Toronto last November.

Provincial Ministries involved in EP

  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Ministry of the Environment
  • Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Ministry of Northern Development, Mines
  • Ministry of Energy
  • Ministry of Attorney General
  • Ministry of Transportation
  • Ministry of Community & Social Services
  • Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services
  • Emergency Management Ontario, MCSCS
  • OPP – Emergency Management Unit
  • Communications Branch, MCSCS

Federal Organizations

  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Health Canada
  • Public Safety Canada
  • Transport Canada

Municipally & Regionally

  • DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office)
  • Kincardine
  • City of Toronto
  • Town of SaugeenShores
  • Town of Amherstbburg
  • Town of Essex
  • Laurentian Hills/Deep River NEPC

Take Away?

A lot of jurisdictional issues. Or, cracks to fall between.    Why politicians need to act.

What is Clear

  • MCSCS [Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services] is quite clear that the planning basis is not for large-scale accident or release
  • Durham Nuclear Health Committee also understands this
  • Joint Review Panel Recommendations: see list (#46)
  • Judge on Darlington New Build: Emergency Planning cannot be ignored

Also clear & essential to grasp:

  • OPG is not responsible for off-site planning & it is off-site we are here about

Emergency Exercise

  • OPG [Ontario Power Generation] report obtained by FOI [Freedom of Information] in May 2013 showed the public has no idea what to do in case of a nuclear emergency
  • Exercise held end of May: No doubt useful – but without public involvement, how can the public possibly learn from it?
  • The exercise has no bearing on the current planning basis for nuclear emergencies, or on what members of the public will do in the event of an accident

Take-Away: Need to keep eye on the ball & not get distracted!

  Fukushima: Real-Life Experience 

  • So much to say, not enough time.
  • Many insights about the Fukushima disaster in these 2 books; I recommend them highly!
  • Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

<The books referenced are Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster & Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster>


  • Durham Region: 10 reactors, some very old now & running past “design basis”
  • Public confused – almost everyone seems confused about what to do if accident happens, & who is responsible for what
  • Durham Region stands to be most affected if the unthinkable happens, & I heard OPG CEO Tom Mitchell say [6 months into the Fukushima disaster] “The unthinkable can happen.”


  • You as Durham Region’s elected representatives have a major responsibility here.

DNA Recommendation

DNA urges Durham Regional Council to advocate on behalf of its citizens for world-class nuclear emergency plans.

We recommend:

•  Durham Region study and endorse international best practices as our community’s expectation of offsite nuclear emergency plans.

•  Request that the Province carry out transparent and meaningful public consultations with Durham Region and its citizens on revisions to the province’s nuclear emergency plans.


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3 Editorials from Reactor Community Newspapers

There have been three editorials from nuclear reactor community newspapers that really stand out (two recent & one from two years ago), and that citizens & politicians in Durham Region need to keep in mind.

All three reference the need to plan appropriately for nuclear emergencies in Durham, home to not just one, but two gigantic nuclear generating stations.

Here are the editorials, with the most recent at the top:

1. May 28, 2014   [Durham Region. Com] – from Pickering News-Advertiser May 28/14.

Getting the message out in Durham on nuclear safety

If a sampling of residents is any indication, there would be chaos in Durham Region in the unlikely chance of a serious nuclear incident in Pickering or Darlington.

The news comes amidst a multi-agency mock nuclear emergency exercise taking place over three days this week to test preparedness among those responsible for dealing with an emergency.

It also comes just a few weeks after a new nuclear emergency kit — featuring easy-to-read binder pages and a pinpoint LED flashlight — was distributed to more than 200,000 households (at a cost of $3 each) within a 10-kilometre radius of Durham Region’s nuclear plants.

But the results of an Ontario Power Generation focus group obtained by Greenpeace Canada clearly indicate that despite efforts at outreach and community engagement by Durham’s nuclear operator, a frightening number of the region’s residents remain completely unaware of what they should do in a worst-case nuclear scenario. The report concludes there are “very low levels of awareness” among residents living closest to Durham’s two nuclear generating stations.

One resident indicated she would try to get to Toronto in a nuclear accident; a mother in Pickering said she would want to retrieve her children from school.

Each of those, depending on the circumstance, might be precisely the wrong thing to do, based on protocols laid out in established monitoring and evacuation directives.

This study shows rather clearly that even though OPG has lived up to its obligations to regularly provide information related to nuclear incidents, it hasn’t had much success in ensuring that the information it provides is being retained, let alone perused by residents. It is on this basis that OPG must move to develop a mechanism to more effectively measure and manage the success and retention of such important information for residents. Residents, too, have a responsibility to become informed, for their own and their family’s sakes.

Nuclear power is here to stay as a source of energy generation in Ontario and OPG has a solid record of safely and professionally operating its reactors in Durham Region. But there are well known and serious risks associated with accidents.

The lesson here is that it’s not enough to assemble, package and distribute important information without accompanying oversight and follow up with the recipients. Durham Region, as the entity responsible, is obliged to ensure that the information it provides is meaningful to residents, that they are aware and informed, and that they know their role in an emergency.

— Metroland Media Group Ltd., Durham Region Division … Editor’s note: The story was amended May 29 to note that Durham Region is responsible for emergency preparedness.

2. May 21, 2014
Nuclear ruling presents an opportunity in Durham — Clarington This Week

A federal court ruling that orders more environmental study before new nuclear reactors can be built at Darlington must be viewed positively.

The ruling is a victory for Greenpeace and other environmental organizations that challenged a separate federal review panel’s earlier recommendation for approval of the new build at Darlington. The May 14 ruling by Justice James Russell orders more study of hazardous substance emissions, the proper handling of nuclear waste and more detailed analysis of how the site’s operators would deal with a severe accident.

Referred to by Greenpeace’s Shawn-Patrick Stensil as a “common-sense ruling”, it effectively puts the ball back in play for Ontario Power Generation to determine its next steps. OPG’s Neal Kelly said the company must first fully review Justice Russell’s ruling before deciding how to proceed.

It’s not likely that OPG will simply abandon its plans for the new build at Darlington. A huge investment of time, money and human resources have already been spent in preparing the site for the environmental assessment approved by the federal panel. Additional study will cost more, certainly, but will also dig deeper into identifying methods and processes to address the areas flagged by Justice Russell in his ruling.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, manageable plans for nuclear emissions, waste storage and, especially, the emergency response to a severe accident are vitally important to Durham Region residents.

So, though the legal ruling represents a setback for advocates of the new build who have been working hard in recent years to see it move forward, it also represents for the larger community one more hard and close look at ways to mitigate the impact on the natural environment and more detailed response plans should the worst happen.

We call on OPG to accept the ruling and work quickly to address the gaps Justice Russell has identified in the existing environmental assessment, move forward in creating detailed plans for emergency response and clear this vitally important step.

The new build isn’t going to happen any time soon given Ontario’s current long-term energy plan. Still, addressing all the issues identified today will allow OPG officials to hit the ground running when the decision comes.
— Metroland Media Group Ltd., Durham Region Division

3. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst in Clarington
Clarington This Week editorial [September 20/12]

http://www.durhamregion.com/opinion/editorial/article/1504692–hoping-for-the-best-preparing-for-the-worst-in-clarington [link is now defunct]

Be prepared.

That universally recognized motto of the Scout movement must also guide nuclear experts as they work towards extending the life of Clarington’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station to 2055.

A federal environmental assessment is currently underway as part of the long-term nuclear refurbishment program at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site and members of the public are encouraged to take part in some upcoming hearings to share their views.

As part of the ongoing process, some local groups, led by the Canadian Environmental Law Association, have raised timely concerns about the site’s and the community’s preparedness should a nuclear emergency occur.

Specifically, CELA is calling for a much wider scope of preparation for a large-scale nuclear emergency, unlikely as that may be. Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of CELA, noted recently that most nuclear emergency response plans at Darlington are based on site-contained incidents that wouldn’t pose a threat beyond the nuclear facility.

And the spectre of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear emergency and evacuation following the earthquake and tsunami continues to cast a shadow on nuclear power generation around the world. Though our geology differs and there is a minuscule chance of a similar occurrence in Durham Region, the point of preparedness is to have a response plan in place for multiple emergency scenarios.

In that context, CELA’s call for a detailed emergency plan for potential incidents such as a large radiation release that would require evacuation in a 20-kilometre radius makes sense.

It doesn’t mean that there is an expectation that such an incident would occur, but would provide a more robust and effective emergency plan for OPG officials, municipal leaders and everyday citizens to respond.

For their part, OPG officials say the current focus is on “credible” disasters, those that would be expected here at home. That is as it should be, at a minimum. But there is no harm in examining and preparing for less “credible” emergency incidents.

Any resistance to such a notion is akin to automotive manufacturers in the past resisting the installation of seat belts in automobiles lest they be viewed by consumers as unsafe.

The human and economic cost of an uncontained nuclear incident would be exponentially greater if there are no processes or plans in place for the unlikely, for the unexpected, for the incredible emergency.

A plan that explores and prepares for the widest possible spectrum of potential emergencies must be assembled.

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Emergency Planning: DNA Letter to Durham Regional Council

<DNA Logo>

May 27, 2014.

Re: Emergency Planning in Durham Region

Durham Region Councillors & Regional Chair:

We are deeply concerned that Durham Region is unprepared to adequately protect its citizens in the event of a major accident at the Pickering or Darlington nuclear stations.

Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) asks you as our regional representatives to take action to actively engage the citizens of Durham Region to ensure that our off-site nuclear emergency plans are designed to:

• protect the public in the event of a major accident
• meet international best practices, and further and very importantly
• be understood by the citizens of Durham Region.

As you may know, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is cooperating with an array of regional, provincial and federal agencies to conduct a three-day emergency exercise at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station between May 26th and 28th.

While somewhat useful, we worry this may be used as a public relations exercise to paper over the lack of public review of our nuclear emergency plans since the Fukushima accident in 2011.

DNA members have been calling on our federal, provincial and municipal authorities to publicly update our off-site nuclear emergency plans since 2012.

We have repeatedly stated that the planning basis for current off-site emergency plans addresses only small-scale accidents. This leaves Durham Region unprepared for a major accident at Darlington or Pickering.

To be better protected, we need to update the planning basis of our off-site emergency plans to address major accidents. Changing this key assumption will impact the scale and scope of the protective measures that need to be in place.

DNA members have raised this concern with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) – both during the public review of OPG’s proposal to extend the life of the Darlington nuclear station in 2012 – and again at the relicensing hearings of the Pickering nuclear station in 2013, but our concern has not been addressed.

Notably, a federal court has recently validated DNA’s concerns. The Toronto Star reports that Justice James Russell found the federal panel that reviewed OPG’s proposal to build new reactors at Darlington “…should have done more analysis of the possibility of an unlikely but catastrophic accident at the nuclear site…The accident risk should be weighed while the decision is still in the hands of the politicians, he ruled, not left solely to regulatory authorities.”1

Judge Russell’s ruling highlights an important weakness of emergency preparedness in Durham Region: OPG and government agencies have for too long failed to consider the impacts of major accidents. As a result, public and elected officials are deprived of the information necessary to make the decisions needed to better protect the public.

All this is to say, DNA is concerned that our government authorities have become complacent. We write to you now because we feel these authorities require firm direction and scrutiny from Durham Region’s democratically elected representatives.

DNA has also repeatedly raised concerns about inadequate emergency planning at meetings of the Durham Nuclear Health Committee (DNHC), but have seen no meaningful response.

Citizens in Durham Region (and the surrounding Greater Toronto Area, which also stands to be much affected in the event of a serious accident at either of Durham’s nuclear plants) deserve reassurance that plans for a nuclear emergency in the shadow of Pickering and Darlington will be reviewed and meet international best practices.

We should not pretend a major nuclear accident cannot happen here.

As Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated at an April 2013 international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa, the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

DNA urges you to publicly review and consult on the adequacy of our off-site nuclear plans by engaging Durham citizens in a public discussion on these matters affecting public health and safety. DNA members would be happy to meet with any of you to discuss this further.

Respectfully submitted,

Janet McNeill
On behalf of Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)

1 Cited in John Spears, “New reactor plan needs more work, court tells OPG,” the Toronto Star, May 15, 2014.

• All municipal Councils in Durham Region
• Durham Emergency Management Office (DEMO)
• Durham Nuclear Health Committee (DNHC)
• Emergency Management Ontario, Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services
• Provincial MPPs
• Joe Dixon (Ajax-Pickering)
• John O’Toole (Durham)
• Helena Jaczek (Oak Ridges-Markham)
• Jerry Ouellette (Oshawa)
• Tracy MacCharles (Pickering-Scarborough East)
• Bas Balkissoon (Scarborough-Rouge River)
• Christine Elliott (Whitby-Oshawa)

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Emergency Planning in Durham Region: Media Summary

It’s been quite the week for media coverage of the Durham Region nuclear scene & the nuclear industry’s emergency planning (or lack thereof) for the Pickering & Darlington nuclear generating stations.

Here is a summary of the coverage I’ve seen. Most recent is at the top. If you want to read them chronologically, read from the bottom up.

Nuke you, Toronto
With new reactors on hold, it’s time to address the lack of a safety plan in case of a Fukushima-like event

Blog Posting from CELA – Canadian Environmental Law Association Nuclear Emergency Planning Exercise at Darlington Message to Public: Trust Us

Getting the Message Out in Durham on Nuclear Safety

Darlington nuclear plant undergoing drills that doesn’t involve public | CityNews

Durham site of large nuclear emergency exercise — More than 50 federal, provincial, regional, local organizations involved

Awareness of emergency plans near Pickering, Darlington nuclear plants ‘very low’ — Ontario Power Generation under pressure to provide more information to residents as three-day mock emergency begins Monday

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Pickering Relicensing Hearing: 7 Key Submissions

** Important! The transcript of the hearing is now available on the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) Web site, here.

7 Heavy-Duty Submissions to Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Pickering Relicensing Hearing (May 7/14.)

** Click on each person’s name to see her/his submission.

Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) warns the Great Lakes could be seriously contaminated by a Pickering nuclear accident, given the problems with enormous volumes of radioactive water leaking from Fukushima. He cites Hydro-Québec President Thierry Vandal’s 2013 testimony in Québec’s National Assembly: “I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210,000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards. So, it is out of question for us to put anyone – i.e. us, the workers, the public, or the company – in a situation of risk in the nuclear domain. So this deadline of 210,000 hours, this is a hard deadline.’’ Dr. Edwards remarks that at public hearings CNSC senior staff always seems to support the licensee, never asking them hard questions: “It almost seems like a tag-team effort – whatever one party says, the other party promptly reinforces.” Edwards also deplores the fact that the CNSC disregards constructive suggestions aimed at reducing the nuclear risk by Dr. Sunil Nijhawan and Dr. Frank Greening, nuclear reactor specialists with over 20 years of experience in the nuclear safety field.

Dr. Michel Duguay holds a PhD in nuclear physics from Yale University and is a professor in the Department of electrical and computer engineering at Laval University. Duguay argues that OPG and CNSC staff are not in full compliance with Article 9 of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) of 1997. On 1 August 2013, in a letter to Honorable Joe Oliver, Duguay and 15 cosigners argued that the annual probability of a severe accident in the greater Toronto area is 100 times larger than the probability of a frequent flyer dying in a commercial airline flight. This situation does not comply with article 9(a) of the Act. Moreover article 9(b) is not complied with because OPG and CNSC do not inform the public in an objective scientific manner about the uncertainties that accompany their calculations of reactor accident probabilities. Duguay points out that OPG & CNSC do not have all the necessary information. For example, many of the hundreds of high-pressure “feeder pipes” have not been inspected, although it is known that corrosion could cause them to rupture, triggering a nuclear emergency. Neither OPG nor CSNC can give scientific information on those non-inspected feeder pipes because they do not have it.

Dr. Frank Greening senior research scientist retired from OPG, explained in his submission that OPG has used fault-tree software to carry out its “Probabilistic Risk Assessments (PRAs),” but has failed to disclose the methodology used to estimate the numerical inputs, to validate the computer programs and to quantify the many large uncertainties in the analysis. Moreover OPG did not disclose its new PRAs (obtained with post-Fukushima enhancements) until 29-30 April, seven days after the deadline for public intervention, and seven days before the May 7 public hearing. This is clearly unacceptable to anyone outside OPG who wishes to provide input into an informed decision on the continued operation of Pickering NGS – and this evidently includes the Commissioners themselves – thereby undermining the rationale for holding Public Hearings.

Theresa McClenaghan, representing the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), filed her May 2013 paper titled “Emergency Planning at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.” She argues that previous experience with the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear catastrophes shows that wide-ranging measures must be taken by municipalities and by the Province of Ontario in order to protect the health of citizens in case of a severe nuclear accident releasing large quantities of radioactive elements. Both OPG and the CNSC now acknowledge that such accidents could take place. CELA argues that the combined population of Pickering and neighboring cities, including Toronto, is so huge that a large-scale evacuation could not be carried out quickly enough to ensure adequate protection of men, women and children. Theresa McClenaghan states: “CELA recommends to the CNSC that it deny its operating licence to operate the Pickering reactors beyond their design life unless and until serious, capable, detailed offsite emergency planning for catastrophic accidents is finally in place.”

Chris Rouse, representing New Clear Free Solutions, is an Engineering Technologist with a keen eye for details. He argues that the PRA methodology used by OPG and accepted by CNSC Staff is not following best practice, or even the guidance documents referenced in OPG’s licence. He says OPG is dodging its responsibility for making a number of important safety improvements, such as installing a filtered vent – as other Canadian reactors have done – capable of filtering out 99% of the radioactivity in the event of a severe accident. As Rouse notes, Canada has an international obligation under the UN Convention on Nuclear Safety to either make improvements or shut the reactors down when safety limits are not met. Rouse highlights safety culture issues within CNSC and OPG similar to the institutional deficiencies that led to the Fukushima disaster.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, spokesman for Greenpeace, filed a paper entitled “An Inconvenient truth: Pickering Exceeds Safety Limits.” Last year Stensil and other interveners convinced the CNSC Commissioners to suspend consideration of OPG’s request unless a convincing safety case can be presented at the May 7 Hearing. One year later, Stensil argues that OPG is still unable to satisfy basic safety criteria and strongly underestimates the probability of a severe nuclear accident that would release large amounts of radioactive elements into the environment. He urges the Commissioners to act in a precautionary manner by not allowing these six reactors to operate beyond the 210,000 hours that had been previously established as a safety limit.

Anna Tilman, representing the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH), in a paper reviewed by Dr. Gordon Albright, documents several technical problems of the CANDU reactors that could initiate a severe nuclear accident if the 210 000 hour limit is exceeded. Corrosion problems plague the many kilometers of pipes needed to cool the reactors. IICPH points out that OPG’s probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) calculations are of dubious validity because of the large uncertainties associated with corrosion. The paper concludes: “Ignoring the potential risks of a major accident is contrary to the precautionary principle, which requires a project to err on the side of caution, especially where there is a large degree of uncertainty, or the risk of very great harm. To risk the mass destruction of people, property, and the natural environment that a serious accident at Pickering would cause, is completely unacceptable.”

** note: Dr. Edwards has issued an amended statement:

Opposition Grows to ‘Nuclear Gambling’ at Pickering
Correction re. Argentina’s “Embalse” reactor

In a recent CCNR e-mail posting on May 6, 2014, entitled “Opposition Grows to ‘Nuclear Gambling’ at Pickering,” it was stated that “CANDU reactors around the world — those at Bruce (8), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Korea (4) and Argentina (1) — have been required to shut down permanently” before reaching 210,000 hours of full-power operation unless far-reaching safety improvements are made first, including the total replacement of all small-diameter pipes in the core cooling system.

It turns out that one of the 15 CANDU reactors referred to — the one at Embalse in Argentina — has been given permission to operate up to 220,000 hours before shutting down for a complete safety makeover (“refurbishment”), including replacing all its degraded pipes and tubes. So the sweeping statement that was made in the May 6 CCNR e-mail about ALL CANDU reactors being limited to 210,000 hours for safety reasons was incorrect; there is, in fact, one exception.

Note, however, that the extra 10,000 hours allowed to the Embalse Reactor’s operation amounts to less than one and a half extra years (actually it is one year and five months) if we assume an 80% capacity factor. And it is also important to note that complete refurbishment of the Embalse reactor is still required, and still planned, even if it is delayed by about one and a half years.

The situation is quite different with the four Pickering B reactors just outside of Toronto.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is asking for permission to operate these geriatric Pickering reactors until 247,000 hours, without EVER doing a refurbishment — not now, and not in the future. That extra 37,000 hours, beyond the 210,000-hour safety limit, corresponds to an extra 4 years and 3 months of full-power operation, or 5 years and 3 months of operation at 80% capacity.

OPG does not deny that a Core Damage Accident at one or more of these reactors is possible, and that a Large Release of Radioactivity in such an event is also possible, but they argue that the “probability” of such a disaster is sufficiently low that it should be permissible to “roll the dice”. (In mathematical probability theory, any probabilistic event can be simulated by rolling a sufficiently large number of dice.)

During the May 7, 2014, hearing before the CNSC, however, OPG experts were unable to demonstrate that the probability of such a disaster is actually low enough to satisfy the regulations that have been laid down for such events. Astonishingly, OPG’s experts told the Commissioners that they are confident that the probability does in fact meet those regulations, even though they are unable to carry out any analysis to verify that such is the case. Evidently OPG is drifting from a science-based approach to a hunch-based belief system. It remains to be seen whether the CNSC will allow such wooly thinking to prevail.

So the question remains. Is it worth gambling with the long-term viability of Toronto and the Great Lakes just so that OPG can keep operating these aging Pickering reactors for another few years, when there is plenty of surplus hydro-power in Quebec and Manitoba that could be purchased at less cost?

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May 7th Pickering Relicensing Hearing: details

The May 7th hearing at CNSC headquarters in Ottawa, at which Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) tribunal members will hear from proponent Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and CNSC staff, will not allow for members of the public to speak.

Only written submissions from the public, at this public hearing.

You can watch the hearing live, via Webcast. Go here. Agenda here.

To see the submissions from the approximately 50 individuals and organizations that have taken the time to “intervene” on this hearing, you may go to this page on the CNSC Web site, & request that submissions be sent to you via email (or in hard copy).

There are many excellent submissions, some of them from individuals whose technical understanding of nuclear complexities is both extensive and impressive.

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DNA Supplementary Submission

April 30, 2014.


Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
280 Slater St., P.O. Box 1046

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5S9.

Members of the CNSC Tribunal:

This is a supplementary submission from Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) regarding the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposal to allow the reactors at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to continue running beyond their planned design life.

DNA has recently learned that OPG has submitted plans to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) regarding plans to run the Pickering reactors not just beyond 210,000 hours and up to 247,000 EFPH (Effective Full Power) hours, but up to 261,000 hours.

And, in a recent statement to a Pickering newspaper, OPG Director of Nuclear Regulatory Affairs Robin Manley stated that the pressure tubes could probably run to 300,000 hours.(1)

It appears that Ontario Power Generation has been anything but transparent about its actual plans for the aging Pickering reactors.

Not transparent with the public, who must resort to Freedom of Information requests to obtain information. Not transparent with the Council of the City of Pickering.

Perhaps not transparent with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission?

There is a colloquial German expression about slicing salami. Does OPG intend to keep coming back, over and over again, for another 5-year “slice?”

How far and how long will OPG staff go to keep milking this cash cow, before being reined in?

DNA Objections

We have reviewed many of the submissions CNSC has received from members of the public.

It is not “merely” “uninformed” members of the public with vague fears about the possibility of a nuclear accident on the eastern border of the City of Toronto.

CNSC has received a host of submissions that lay out a plethora of safety-related problems with the current and projected operations at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

We need not repeat here the arguments about deficiencies with Probabilistic Safety Assessments, or the many technical problems and potential problems with the PNGS that have been very well and thoroughly laid out for you by technically knowledgeable members of the public.

While DNA does not profess to possess technical expertise, many intervenors do possess such knowledge. We are thankful to them for helping to further our own understanding.

And then, to repeat, there is the issue of OPG’s credibility and transparency. Or lack thereof.

Notable Comments from Other Experts

Former CNSC tribunal head Linda Keen attempted to ensure that emergency preparedness at the PNGS be closely studied and improved upon.(2) Ms. Keen was fired for her efforts to protect Canadians.

Toshimitsu Homma, a member of the Japanese delegation from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, stated at an international conference in Ottawa in 2013 that the most notable lesson from the Fukushima disaster is that, before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”(3)

It is imperative that all nuclear operators and regulators learn from this experience!

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen recently commented in an interview, “…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [regarding safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…”(4)

Finally, in the book Flirting with Disaster, author Marc Gerstein stated “… reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness … They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … The leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.”(5)

CNSC Tribunal’s Responsibility

Members of the CNSC tribunal have been asked publicly, at a public hearing, whether any of you live near a functioning nuclear generating station. Apparently, none of you do. Does this mean that tribunal members are able to view the possibility of a nuclear accident as merely “academic”?

To the people of Durham Region, of nearby Toronto, of the entire Greater Toronto Area, in fact, such concerns are anything but academic.

The outcome for millions of people, and the drinking water supply of millions on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border, are simply unthinkable.

The dangers of pushing aging nuclear reactors beyond their design life have, as previously stated, been thoroughly laid out for you in an impressive stack of thorough, well-thought-out submissions.


If Hydro Québec(6), CANDU creator Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.(7), and a long list of articulate and knowledgeable intervenors in this hearing process agree that pushing reactors beyond 210,000 hours of operational life is simply too much of a gamble, Durham Nuclear Awareness can only concur – and so must CNSC.

We reiterate our request from our original, April 22nd submission.

CNSC must act to shut down the Pickering reactors now – before there is a nuclear disaster in the Greater Toronto Area.


Janet McNeill, spokesperson for
Durham Nuclear Awareness

1. Pickering News-Advertiser April 29/14.
2. Toronto Star March 18/11.
3. CELA Submission May 3, 2013. Page 18.
4. Interview on Fairewinds Energy Education Web site.
5. Quoted in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima, on-line here
6. “When we shut down the plant, we were almost there, within a few hours, having run the plant for 198 000 hours since the very beginning. These are the hours of operation at full power. It is a measure of ageing, if you will, of the plant components. So for how many hours could we continue to operate from a safety point of view? I can tell you that Hydro Quebec’s management in no way would have considered to go beyond 210 000 hours even if it was made possible. I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210 000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards. So it’s out of question for us to put anyone, i.e., us, the workers, the public and the company in a situation of risk in the nuclear domain.” — Thierry Vandal, Jan. 29/2013, head of Hydro Québec, quoted in Michel Duguay submission to Pickering NGS relicensing “hold point” hearing, Pg. 14.
7. Frank Greening submission to Pickering NGS relicensing “hold point” hearing, March 5, 2014, Pg. 6.

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DNA Submission on Pickering “Hold Point” Hearing

April 22, 2014.


Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
280 Slater St., P.O. Box 1046

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5S9.

Members of the CNSC Tribunal:

This is the written submission from Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) regarding the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposal to allow the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station reactors to continue running beyond their planned design life.

Durham Nuclear Awareness

    DNA is a small Durham Region citizens’ group that works to help fellow Durham Region residents understand issues surrounding the continued operation of Durham’s nuclear generating stations. DNA has made interventions at CNSC licensing hearings for both Pickering and Darlington NGS, and also on the Deep Geologic Repository project proposed for the community of Kincardine, on Lake Huron.

    Pickering Relicensing Hearing – 2013

    In 2013 DNA received funding from CNSC and hired as an expert Fairewinds Associates Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen to review OPG’s proposal for the relicensing of the Pickering reactors.

    Mr. Gundersen laid out in detail the challenges and problems inherent in the design and operations of CANDU reactors. He quoted at some length Canadian nuclear scientist Dr. F.R. Greening, who has stated “CANDU was destined to run into difficulties due to the complexity of its design.”(1) Further, “The CANDU reactor was always an experimental venture; it has had its successes and was probably a worthwhile undertaking because it added to our understanding of nuclear science and engineering. However, it is time to declare the CANDU experiment over, and move on to something simpler, something proven, something better.” (2)

    In addition, Gundersen explained the issue of the “positive void coefficient of reactivity,” a feature of CANDU reactors that is similar to that of the Chernobyl RBMK reactor in presenting extra risks in the event of an accident involving loss of coolant. He adds that this means the CANDU cannot “meet international expectations for a
more passively safe nuclear reactor design.”(3)

    The report commissioned for DNA details many risks and failings in the plans made by OPG to keep Pickering’s aging reactors running past their time.

    Mr. Gundersen concludes in his report “Given the potential risk to the Toronto area and the 4 million people residing there, it is my expert opinion that the ongoing operating uncertainties are significant and do not warrant substantially risking public and safety in order to extend the life of old and outdated reactors like those at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. Quite simply, nuclear plants like those at Pickering should not be allowed to operate based upon mysterious unfounded calculations or operating confidence levels as low as 70%. While both OPG and CNSC claim that extending the life of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is based upon hard data and pure scientific analysis, it appears that there is a considerable amount of guesswork underlying each organization’s calculations.”(4)

    In August 2013 CNSC released its Record of Proceedings, granting OPG the requested 5-year license, but establishing a “hold point” requiring OPG to produce important information establishing reactor safety.

    Pickering Relicensing Hearing – 2014

    Now the time for the “hold point” hearing has come. CNSC has chosen to downgrade the level of public participation and transparency for this hearing. There is no funding for third-party experts to assess OPG’s submission and claims, and the May 7th hearing, to take place in Ottawa, is for written submissions only. It is challenging for members of the public to perceive the tribunal as being genuinely interested in assessing as much information and input as possible, given the limitations that have been placed on the hearing process.

    DNA Demands Denial of License

    For the following reasons, Durham Nuclear Awareness demands that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission deny Ontario Power Generation its request to push these aging reactors beyond the limits for which they were designed.

    1. Aging reactors are inherently at much higher risk of breakdown. These reactors are among the oldest operating nuclear reactors on the planet.
    2. CANDU reactors by design have limitations that ensure the impossibility of making any kind of airtight assurances about safety.
    3. The multi-unit design of the Pickering reactors makes them more vulnerable to radiation releases than the Fukushima reactors, a simply unacceptable state of affairs at any time; even more so as the reactors enter previously dangerous, uncharted territory due to their advanced age.
    4. The proximity of the PNGS to Canada’s largest city and primary economic engine makes the idea of continuing to run these aging reactors unacceptable.
    5. The lack of adequate emergency planning is by itself alone sufficient reason to close the PNGS immediately. To even contemplate the possible evacuation of vast numbers of citizens in the Greater Toronto Area – for uncertain and perhaps indefinite lengths of time – is beyond the ability of rational human thought – or indeed, existing plans.
    6. Lake Ontario provides drinking water to millions of Ontarians. The quality of Lake Ontario water is already severely compromised by agricultural, industrial and nuclear activities. A nuclear accident would however leave millions with no safe source of drinking water at all. This is unthinkable.
    7. The energy produced by the Pickering reactors is not even required. Excess energy is currently being sold off at a loss.
    8. Ontario Power Generation has failed to produce the revised risk assessment and revised accident report that CNSC demanded. The attitude of OPG appears to be that the public must simply trust their intention to make plans for “concept-level methodology” and “an estimated timeline for detailed methodology and the whole-site PSA.” While this response has apparently satisfied CNSC staff (who say they find this “acceptable” and that risks to the public are “reasonably low”) what it amounts to is saying to the public, “Just trust us!” This is utterly unsatisfactory.


    Each of the eight reasons outlined above is sufficient justification by itself to shut down the Pickering reactors. Collectively, they render the conclusion inescapable that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission must act decisively, as its mandate demands, “to protect the health and safety of Canadians, as well as our environment.”

    CNSC must act to shut down the Pickering reactors now – before there is a nuclear disaster in the Greater Toronto Area.


    Janet McNeill, spokesperson for
    Durham Nuclear Awareness


    1. Fairewinds Associates, Inc. submission to CNSC, April 29/13. Page 8
    2. Page 8
    3. Page 4
    4. Page 11

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Pickering Council Motion – April 22/14.

The Council of the City of Pickering passed the following motion unanimously on April 22, 2014:

WHEREAS the Pickering B reactors located at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station will reach the end of their design lives this year; however Ontario Power Generation (OPG) have applied to operate them until 2020; AND

WHEREAS Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) acquired funding to hire Arnold Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates to analyze OPG’s safety case for Pickering in 2013. Mr. Gundersen concluded there was insufficient information to approve the life-extension of the Pickering B nuclear reactors.

WHEREAS the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) approved a 5-year operating license to OPG, but required that it submit a full safety case for a public hearing before it could run the station beyond its design life; AND

WHEREAS Durham Nuclear Awareness maintain that the studies and information requested of OPG to provide at the 2013 CNSC relicensing hearings, have yet to be released to the public for review.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that City of Pickering Council request the CNSC and OPG to provide a higher level of transparency when discussing the potential for extended operations at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station past its end of life design. This includes (but not limited to) proactively releasing to the public in a timely fashion, any and all studies and documents providing OPG’s safety case to extend the operation in Pickering.

AND that OPG is required to hold annual public meetings to report on the safety of the facility, where the public has an opportunity to ask questions and be provided with appropriate responses. And that prior to these annual public meetings being held, all relevant reports and depositions from the CNSC and OPG in relation to the safety of the plant until the year 2020 be provided to the public in advance.

AND that CNSC requires OPG to send a draft Decommissioning Plan to the City of Pickering for consultation by year-end in 2015.

AND that a copy of this resolution is submitted to the CNSC forthwith.

AND that a copy of this resolution be sent to Durham Region, all Durham Regional local municipalities, Hon Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, Hon Tracy MacCharles, MPP Pickering-Scarborough, MPP Joe Dickson, Ajax-Pickering, Hon Chris Alexander, MP Ajax-Pickering, MP Corneliu Chisu, Pickering-Scarborough East.

** You can find Pickering Council minutes & agendas here

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DNA Letter to Pickering Council

DNA hand-delivered this letter to the members of Pickering Council on March 17/14.

March 17, 2014.

Dave Ryan, Mayor
The Corporation of the City of Pickering
One The Esplanade, Pickering
Ontario, Canada L1V 6K7.

Re: DNA concerns about operating the Pickering reactors beyond their design life

Dear Dave Ryan [each member of Council received her/his own persoalized copy of the letter]:

We are sending you this letter in order to register the concerns of Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) regarding Ontario Power Generation’s request to run the Pickering nuclear station beyond its design life, and to make some recommendations to you as a Council.

DNA is a group of concerned citizens who work to raise awareness about nuclear issues and risks facing the people and communities of Durham Region.

As you are probably aware, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is holding a hearing on May 7, 2014 in Ottawa to discuss OPG’s request to run the aging Pickering B reactors beyond their design life.

While OPG and CNSC staff’s input on this matter has yet to be published (expected availability of their reports: sometime after March 21st), we wish to raise some issues now.

The first Pickering reactor reaches the end of its design life this summer. To our knowledge, continuing to operate a CANDU reactor beyond its design life is unprecedented.

DNA is very concerned about the risks of running the Pickering reactors beyond their design life and the lack of information disclosure and public participation available at the May 7th meeting.

DNA encourages Pickering Council to raise similar concerns with the Commission by making a written intervention by April 22.

The following summarizes DNA’s concerns and recommendations.

Public Transparency and Participation

The CNSC typically provides financial support for organizations and individuals to hire expert technical advice to enable their intervention in re-licensing hearings. It is not doing so for this hearing despite the importance of the decision.

In 2013, DNA received $16,000 to hire American nuclear risk expert Arnie Gundersen to review and evaluate OPG’s safety case for running the Pickering reactors beyond their design life. Ironically, the key observation of Mr. Gundersen’s analysis was that OPG had failed to provide a full safety case for running the reactors beyond their design life in time for the hearings.

Because of this total lack of key information, DNA and other environmental organizations formally requested the CNSC to deny OPG the right to operate the station beyond its design life without a full safety case first being considered at another hearing of the Commission.

In its final decision in August 2013, the Commission granted OPG its requested 5-year licence renewal, but partially agreed with DNA and other groups in requiring OPG to present its full safety case at the upcoming hearing this May.

However, DNA is concerned that the public’s ability to meaningfully scrutinize this key safety issue has been significantly constrained. The CNSC will only be accepting written submissions at this hearing, and is not providing financial support for third-party reviews of OPG’s safety case.

It should be underlined that DNA sought funding last year to review OPG’s safety case for running the station beyond its life because we viewed this as a key risk to Durham Region. Because OPG failed to provide a full safety case, we are now effectively holding another re-licensing hearing, yet with reduced levels of public participation and without the ability to hire a third party to vet OPG’s safety case.

DNA feels that such an unprecedented decision should be taken in full public view, with input from the community and third-party reviewers.

DNA encourages Pickering Council to articulate concerns to the CNSC regarding the reduced level of public participation and transparency in any potential submission you may make on behalf of the City of Pickering.

Pickering’s Closure and a Just Transition for the Station Closure

DNA believes there must be open and public discussion on how to plan for the Pickering nuclear station’s closure. DNA encourages Pickering Council to ensure that such debate happens well before Pickering’s closure.

Without such a discussion, our community could undergo unnecessary negative social and economic impacts. When Quebec closed its Gentilly-2 nuclear station in 2012 without such a debate or a transparent plan, it caused considerable stress in the community.

In the CNSC’s relicensing decision last year, it directed OPG to provide a draft decommissioning plan for the Pickering nuclear station by 2017 – three years before what was then understood to be Pickering’s final closure date.

Since that time, the government of Ontario released a new Long Term Energy Plan, which states:

“The Pickering Generating Station is expected to be in service until 2020. An earlier shutdown of the Pickering units may be possible depending on projected demand going forward, the progress of the fleet refurbishment program, and the timely completion of the Clarington Transformer Station.” (Long Term Energy Plan, December 2013, p. 47.)

It is thus possible that the Pickering station will be closed down completely or in part well before 2020. DNA believes the City of Pickering must be prepared for such a scenario.

As discussed, DNA believes our community needs a transparent and accepted transition plan as it ends its 40-year experiment with nuclear power. As seen with recent experiences in Quebec, the failure to develop such a transition plan can have negative impacts on the community.

DNA thus encourages Pickering Council to request that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission require OPG to move up the submission date for its draft decommissioning plan from 2017 to 2015.

We also believe that whatever plan OPG submits should be subjected to a public consultation to determine whether such a plan is environmentally sound and in the public interest. We would be happy to discuss the nature of such a public consultation at a later date.


To conclude, DNA is concerned about the risks of running Pickering beyond its design life. We encourage Pickering Council to call for higher levels of public transparency if it suggests the life-extension of the Pickering reactors be approved by CNSC.

DNA is also deeply concerned that our community has no transition plan for closure of the Pickering nuclear station, which could occur well before 2020. We request Pickering Council ask the CNSC to require a draft decommissioning plan be published by 2015 instead of 2017.

Thank you for your attention in these matters.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our group if you have any questions.

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Pickering: Time to Shut It Down

In May last year the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) held a hearing into Ontario Power Generation’s request for a further 5-year license, to run the Pickering reactors beyond their “design life” of 210,000 hours.

While there was tremendous opposition & an incredible amount of negative testimony brought forward in the 3-day hearing, CNSC did grant OPG the 5-year license, but with a “hold point” one year in, to present its full safety case for continuing to run the reactors.

DNA had hired Fairewinds Associates Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen to study OPG’s proposal & present his findings at the May 2013 hearing.

His full submission can be found here.

You can also watch a 3-minute interview with Mr. Gundersen. It’s a succinct summary of why it would be a big mistake to run the Pickering Nuclear Generator Station (PNGS) beyond its design life.

Another hugely important element of the case against Pickering is the lack of adequate emergency & evacuation plans, should there be an accident involving a large radiation release.

A 2-minute interview with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)’s director Theresa McClenaghan speaks to this. (Her full presentation can be found here )

On May 7th 2014, CNSC will hold a 1-day hearing in Ottawa (accepting written submissions only this time) to review submissions on the OPG proposal to keep the PNGS going for at least 4 more years.

This site has plenty of information on how to take part in the hearing. Please do!

In January 2013 Thierry Vandal, the head of Hydro-Quebec, said when asked if he would run the Gentilly-2 nuclear station beyond its design life, “I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210,000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards. So, it is out of question to put anyone, i.e., us, the workers, the public, and the company, in a situation of risk in the nuclear realm.”

Why continue to endanger the cities & citizens of Pickering & Toronto & the entire Greater Toronto Area?

It’s time to shut down Pickering.

Featured post

DGR Hearing: DNA Presentation (Sept. 24/13)

* Note on September 8/14: Another round of DGR hearings! 10 days, starting Sept.9th. Find all the info you need – schedule, location, how to access live Webcast, here.

** DGR = Deep Geologic Repository

* DNA’s written submission can be found here

Good afternoon, members of the Joint Review Panel, OPG and CNSC staff, fellow intervenors, members of the public and those who are watching the proceedings via Webcast.

My name is Janet McNeill, and I’m here today representing the group Durham Nuclear Awareness, or DNA for short. As explained in our written submission, we are a group of concerned citizens who volunteer our time and energy to raise public awareness of nuclear issues in the Regional Municipality of Durham.

We have a steering committee – this is where I’m going off-script to answer the specific questions that you [Panel Chair Stella Swanson] have asked. We have a steering committee of eight people who meet regularly to host public events, attend Durham Nuclear Health Committee meetings, contact politicians, and so on. I’d like to say we have a huge membership – documented membership, and the fact is we’re not sophisticated enough to have the – what would you say, the infrastructure to create that sort of thing.

We’re all volunteers. We don’t have the time to pursue doing newsletters, pursuing a whole bunch of members, taking in memberships, and so on. I’m going to say something a little more about the history of the group below that was already in my remarks.

We’re from the area east of Toronto that is host to not one, but two gigantic nuclear generating stations. We have neighbours, friends and acquaintances who work for the nuclear industry, and like them we live with crossed fingers, essentially, in the hope that Durham Region will never be host to a nuclear disaster like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima.

The DNA group, in fact, originally came together after the Chernobyl nuclear accident that took place on April 26th, 1986. While I was not an active member of the group in its earlier incarnation, I’m aware of the group’s impressive work and achievements under the leadership of Irene Kock and Dave Martin, two activists whose efforts continue to bear a huge impact on the nuclear awareness that our group’s name speaks to. These activists won widespread respect for their technical understanding, tireless activism and educational efforts. It’s an honour to continue the work of the DNA group that they gave birth to.

The DNA group’s name indicates right up front that our concerns are not just about those of us alive today, but also all future generations whose lives stand to be unavoidably affected by the heavy burden this industry has placed on every single human being and every living thing on the planet.

The group had a dormant period and then came together once again after the Fukushima nuclear disaster that began on March 11th, 2011. We’ve intervened recently at the Darlington refurbishment hearing in December 2012, and then a few months ago in May at the Pickering re-licensing hearing.

I myself have taken part in a number of CNSC hearings over the past three & a half years. However, I think it was not until I attended a nuclear waste conference in 2011 (six months into the Fukushima disaster) that I really began to grasp the true gravity of the crisis the human race now faces with the 5 or 6 decades’ worth of nuclear wastes that are building up at reactor sites around the globe.

I’m going to share with you a number of things I learned at that conference, since they are quite relevant to the project under discussion here.

Just before I do, I want to reiterate that DNA is a group of volunteers. None of us is an “expert.” None of us receives any financial remuneration whatsoever for the work we do. Our work is done on our own time, on our own dime, in the “spare” time we might otherwise use to watch TV, or do whatever it is that people who are not volunteers spend their spare time doing.

So. First I will share with you some interesting things that came out of my attendance at a nuclear waste conference held 2 years ago now, then I’ll comment on the DGR project in a general way, & finally, I’ll provide a list of 10 reasons why DNA feels this project cannot possibly be permitted to move forward.

Nuke Waste Conference – Sept. 2011

So the Nuclear Waste Conference, September 2011. This was an industry conference on “waste management, decommissioning, and environmental restoration for Canada’s nuclear activities.” It was not a conference organized by and for activists, but a conference of nuclear industry people, hundreds of them from all over, gathered in Toronto from September 11th to 14th, 2011, exactly, as it turned out, exactly six months into the ongoing Fukushima disaster.

Now, I’ve mentioned that until I attended this conference, I really didn’t begin to grasp the deep seriousness of the nuclear waste problem we now face on Planet Earth.

& this is true.

It is also true that 6 months earlier, in March-April 2011 – when the Fukushima nuclear disaster was in its earliest days – I had attended many days of the Joint Review Panel hearing into the Darlington New Build project.

In preparing my remarks for this hearing, I looked over the notes I took at the New Build hearing, & was reminded of my reaction at hearing OPG staff reveal how little is apparently really understood about how to safely & securely store nuclear waste for the really long-range periods of time it needs to be safely & securely stored.

“We are looking into containers,” allowed one OPG staffer at the Darlington New Build hearing.

“Oh my God,” I recall thinking. “These people are responsible for safeguarding unbelievably dangerous nuclear wastes for 1000s or even 100’s of thousands of years. They apparently have no idea what they are talking about, & they have just admitted that containers would likely last 50 years or ‘maybe 100 with maintenance.’”

Yet they are arguing in favour of building MORE new reactors – along with re-building the old ones!”

I have to tell you that I was genuinely shocked at what I was hearing. Horrified, actually.

But back to the nuclear waste conference & some things I heard while I was there.

Things I Heard at the Nuke Waste Conf.

Frank Doyle, President of the Canadian Nuclear Society, allowed right in his introductory remarks that Canada has “significant nuclear legacy liabilities” – a nuanced way for a nuclear industry person to admit that there is quite a bit of nuclear waste to deal with in Canada.

Joan Miller from AECL [Atomic Energy of Canada] revealed that some things had been “left in the environment for storage” at the Chalk River Laboratories site back before anyone knew better. She used the phrase “things that were probably thought to be pretty clean in the 1960s.”

A number of speakers referred to re-categorizing or “re-characterizing” nuclear waste, so that it can be dumped in regular landfill sites &, in nuclear industry parlance, “free-released.”

In a workshop entitled “New CSA Guideline for the Exemption or Clearance from Regulatory Control of Materials that Contain, or Potentially Contain, Nuclear Substances,” CSA or AECL spokesperson (I am still confused as to which), M. Rhodes spoke in a manner that was extremely dense in jargon & acronyms, & very hard to follow, about new regulation N292.5, this “Guideline for the exemption or clearance from regulatory control of materials that contain, or potentially contain, nuclear substances.” The phrases “abandonment” & “unconditional clearance” were used. And since, as I have mentioned, I found Mr. Rhodes difficult to follow, I can’t say a great deal more about his workshop. But the words “abandonment” and “unconditional clearance” raised some red flags in my mind.

When asked how the public consultation had been conducted (following closed-door sessions attended almost exclusively by nuclear organizations), Mr. Rhodes replied, “It was posted on the CSA Web site.”

Ah. Public consultation, hmmmm? Only thing missing? The public.

I was flabbergasted to hear speakers from the nuclear industry say with straight faces that they are “leaving an honorable legacy” in Port Hope. An honourable legacy. This was said more than once.

It was confirmed for me that the way nuclear waste is categorized is pretty much arbitrary, and in any case, that the categories are created by the nuclear industry for its own convenience. Most members of the public are almost certainly not aware, for example, that low level does not mean low risk.

That decommissioning nuclear reactors costs simply shocking amounts of money – & not only that, is far from being a well-understood phenomenon or set of practices even within the industry.

Charles Hickman from Point Lepreau in New Brunswick conveyed the information that Canadian nuclear waste is being sent to Tennessee for incineration there – because there was just a great deal more of it than anyone had anticipated, during the refurbishment project, & that they needed to get rid of it.

Incineration of nuclear waste. This was something I was blissfully unaware of, before the conference.

François Bilodeau from Hydro Quebec conveyed that the Quebec experience with refurbishment had established that 5 times more waste than anticipated was being created with the refurbishment of Gentilly-2. (Of course, since that time Gentilly-2 has been shut down – due to these various shockingly over-the-top costs.)

In other words, what I was learning was that we cannot count on the so-called “experts” to predict the quantities of nuclear waste involved in refurbishments & decommissioning, nor what is to be done to “handle” or “dispose” of them safely & properly.

As Dr. Binder, CNSC President & CEO pointed out in his opening remarks at the conference, “Public confidence is waning.”

Yes indeed. Public confidence is very low, & it is ever waning. In the face of the ongoing disaster at Fukushima & the almost-daily shocking revelations there (still), it is quite safe to say that trust in the nuclear industry has reached historic lows.

I noted down quite a few memorable quotations that I would like to share with you, as they too are quite revealing in a variety of ways. I should perhaps remind you that this conference was industry talking to industry. The level of candour was considerably greater than would likely have been the case had it been industry talking to the public, or industry talking to activists, or to journalists.

Memorable Quotations Recorded at the Conference:

Mark Corey – who was then (and may still be; I’m not sure) – Assistant Deputy Minister for the Energy Sector, Natural Resources Canada, shared his palpable excitement about Canada’s great fortune to possess the tar sands, & referred to the need for nuclear energy as a “crucial part of our energy mix” … but admitted that in a few areas of the country (e.g. Bancroft, Ontario & the northern route that uranium followed to get to Port Hope, Ontario) some “things” had been found that hadn’t been quite expected. He was referring to nuclear waste.

He was quite excited about some fences that had been erected in the Bancroft area (where there were “some areas that had some real activity” – radioactivity, he meant). And I guess the fences are there to protect the people & the wildlife & the local environment from mine tailings – the latter being, one supposes, some of the “things” that hadn’t been quite “expected.”

CNSC President & CEO Michael Binder commented that “the March 11th event in Japan was a wake-up call,” and made the claim “We are not going to tax future generations” (with nuclear activities or waste). Another remark that took me greatly by surprise, since I didn’t detect any sign of an effort to phase out nuclear power – the only possible solution that exists for putting an end to the production of long-lived nuclear wastes!

Later on Dr. Binder stated that “We have tended to be secretive” & that “most of our conferences are us talking to ourselves – not the public, not the press.”

I was struck by his use of the word “we.” The CNSC lays claim to being an “arm’s length” regulator, & always vigorously denies being “embedded” in the industry. I would suggest to you that with this remark at the conference, Dr. Binder firmly established CNSC as an integral arm of the nuclear industry.

Tom Mitchell, Ontario Power Generation’s exceedingly well-paid President & CEO, referred to the Fukushima nuclear accident (6 months in, as you will recall) as a “humbling experience.” He admitted that it proved “The unthinkable might happen.”

He also downplayed the impact of nuclear waste, while at the same time emphasizing that the DGR planned for low & intermediate-level waste would be REALLY deep. “This stuff isn’t dangerous,” he seemed to be saying – but we’re going to bury it REALLY deep…. I should also mention that he pointed out that, with refurbishments, quantities of nuclear waste on the planet are growing. Something he seemed to be suggesting ought to be viewed as an economic opportunity.

NASA staffer Keith Peecook described the $230 million project to decommission the Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Ohio. He was candid about a number of things. He was candid about something called “blending” (the more you “blend” nuclear waste, the less you have to send to a specially engineered waste facility; “blending” is being examined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, presumably so as to enhance this tactic for the future).

He was candid about faking sincerity with the public liaison group. He said & I quote: “Once you learn to fake sincerity, you can do anything.”

He was candid in his comment that the public advisory committee in that Ontario – oh, pardon me – Ohio community, was undoubtedly more receptive to industry activities & staff, uh, explanations, than might be the case in a California one.

When asked how much it had cost to build the reactor that cost $250 million & 1.68 million “man-hours” to decommission same, he replied “$5 million.” $5 million to build, $250 million to decommission. This was bracing information … & very informative.

CNSC staffer Don Howard gave a talk on the CNSC’s regulatory framework. (Parenthetically, by the way, that CSA N292 regulation came up.) Mr. Howard said more than once that decommissioning & long-term planning have not been considered in the past as much as they ought to have been. And that “strategies of minimization” (including “the use of clearance levels”) must be used. He seemed to think that it was a revelation to state that it is necessary to think about waste all the way through, not just “at the end.” He also had it in his presentation that “Generation of radioactive waste cannot be prevented.”

Of course many of us would suggest that ending the use of nuclear energy would be an excellent and the most effective (and only) way to prevent any further creation of radioactive waste!?

Pauline Witzke of the Nuclear Waste Management Division, OPG, spoke about the DGR plans. She said that it is necessary to find a long-term solution for the waste that already exists – a solution, she added, that is “acceptable to the community.” She acknowledged that “Transportation risk is quite high.” This was a – I thought an interesting thing to hear somebody from the nuclear industry admit. You won’t often hear that being admitted.

Okay. And it’s important to note finally that I was not able to attend all the sessions at the conference that I would have liked to attend, because there were tons of things going on. Certainly some important themes emerged.

I’ve summarized, I guess, 10 things that I learned at the conference.

1. The nuclear industry isn’t quite as “expert” as they would have us all believe.
2. There are now daunting quantities of nuclear waste all over the planet. “Regular” citizens would be shocked to know how much & in how many different locations in Canada, for starters, & all over the world. Not always handled responsibly, I might add, of course, was something I learned at that conference.
3. Phrases like “waste characterization” & “blending” & “legacy liabilities” & “historic wastes” & “Integrated Waste Planning” are used to cover up a lot of reality that is what can reasonably be termed seriously dangerous reality.
4. Refurbishments & decommissioning create very, very significant quantities of waste; so significant that sometimes here in Canada, we ship our waste to the U.S. for burning … & then receive back the ash. One can just imagine how toxic that ash must be if the folks in Tennessee don’t want to keep it down there where they are doing the burning.
5. There are very significant amounts of money to be made in the nuclear industry. One might almost say “staggering” amounts of money. And of course the industry experts & the regulator all have a piece of that large pie.
6. It is the Canadian public that is on the hook for so-called “legacy” or “historic” wastes at Chalk River & Port Hope, & also all the waste at Darlington, Pickering & the Bruce. Taxpayers are left responsible for the waste that is created by the nuclear industry – the industry that is profiting hugely from its activities.
7. We need not count on the industry to own up to its leaks and spills and disasters and explosions and emissions. It seems we must continue to count on members of the public to ferret out this kind of information. I could say quite a great deal more on this topic, but time does not permit…
8. We cannot count on the nuclear industry or our government to protect us from dangerous radioactivity or nuclear waste, because regulations about these things are discussed & changed behind closed doors on occasions that we, the public, are neither invited to, nor welcome at.
9. Conclusions about the Fukushima accident had not yet been reached, it was then still so new. Later on, the word “collusion” became part of the necessary vocabulary in discussions about the Fukushima disaster. At this conference in the fall of 2011, it seemed to me that very strong indicators were given of a surprising amount of cooperation among the industry, the federal government and Canada’s so-called regulator.
10. By the end of the conference I felt genuinely sickened. I honestly did. I’m not exaggerating. I felt sickened by the deep gravity & intractability of the issues surrounding nuclear waste. I concluded that all nuclear energy facilities need to be shut down immediately. And that all of the industry’s very considerable resources need to be directed from here on in to responsible decommissioning of all nuclear facilities everywhere, including, of course, the safe & responsible handling of the very considerable quantities of waste that already exist … never mind making any more.

The DGR Project

Okay. The DGR project. We said quite a bit about this in our written submission.

A great deal of money has been spent & a great many studies have been undertaken to justify this project – which some have come to think of as the DUD – Deep Underground Dump. One sometimes wonders if people in the nuclear industry believe that simply generating 1000’s of pages in voluminous reports & so-called “studies” can take the place of rigorous study & testing of hypotheses.

One wonders whether the people who carry out such studies such as these really believe that computer modelling can ever accurately reflect the deep complexities of ecological reality, which of course encompasses human reality. We are deeply part of ecological reality.

Now, I am always happy to confess right upfront that I am not personally a “technical” person. I’m not scientifically minded & I am not mathematically proficient.

Yet I read the reports generated by the industry (whether for this project or a tritium light facility or a reactor refurbishment or a license extension) & certain things come up again & again.

Fancy language & terms are thrown about.


Studies are referenced.

Many unsubstantiated claims & predictions are made.

Weak language & reassurances predominate.

The use of the word “robust” is repeated endlessly – yet the evidence & the studies & the conclusions cited are always anything but robust.

Weak & unverifiable claims are made – inevitably & repeatedly – about there being no adverse environmental impacts. It doesn’t matter what the project happens to be. Miraculously, no adverse impacts are ever anticipated!

I honestly doubt that most 10-year olds reading these reports would find their concerns for the future of the Earth adequately addressed. Or find the lofty claims being made credible.

Overall, it strikes me that nuclear industry people are most concerned about the costs of waste disposal. Not public or environmental safety. The goal is pretty clearly to get rid of the waste as quickly & as cheaply as possible. While earning vast sums of money for the individuals & corporations involved, of course.

In fact, earning money (and lots of it) for a large number of engineering firms seems to be perceived as almost a moral imperative within the nuclear industry. That it is absolutely not one for the rest of society is something the nuclear industry needs to begin to grasp.

Summary of Reasons the DGR Should Not Be Approved

We have created a list of 10 reasons why the DGR should not be approved.

1. There’s a genuinely – to us – or to many of us, I think – surreal feel to this project. For so many of us, it is simply unbelievable that any reasonable person could find it rational to contemplate abandoning nuclear waste in a glorified hole in the ground within such a short distance of a substantial, irreplaceable body of water – one of Canada & the U.S.’s incomparable Great Lakes. This is simply unfathomable to us!
2. The project is a very graphic illustration of “putting the cart before the horse.” It’s all a case of working backward from a pre-established conclusion agreeable to the industry to find the “proof” that this is a good, solid, reasonable and environmentally sound plan.
3. Inadequate planning, study, rationale, safety case. It becomes apparent from reading the documents associated with this project that no one really seems to know what they are doing! The plans are haphazard, & the reasoning behind most of them circular – all of it un-hindered by any actual basis in reality or scientific study. Nor is OPG being forthright in responding to the public concerns & questions that have been raised about the project.
4. The plan lacks any credibility whatsoever, & as for safety grounds, there are no grounds. It seems to be a case of “We say this will be safe because we say it will be safe, and so it will, of course be safe. Because we say so!”
5. People and communities & the actual likely impacts of this project do not appear to be real to the nuclear community. In reading the report, one senses that people & actual consequences – even the incomparably beautiful Lake Huron! – we only have to walk outside the building here and look down the street to see this gorgeous jewel down there – are mere abstractions to the people formulating these plans. Perhaps because computer modelling is not sufficient to put flesh on the bones of real people, real communities, real natural treasures…& very real risks.
6. There is a gigantic hole in the middle of the plan where ethics & morality ought to be firmly located…but are strangely & entirely lacking.
7. Canada’s so-called nuclear “regulator” is not an arm’s length body; therefore any decisions it makes (about waste characterization, transportation, overall handling of waste, etc. etc.) also lack credibility.
8. There is massive, widespread public opposition to this plan from all levels of society, & on both sides of the border.
9. The failure of this plan and the DGR itself is virtually guaranteed, its far-reaching consequences to be placed on the generations that come after our own.
10. It is completely irresponsible (as well as immoral & unethical) to take such risks with the drinking water of 40 million people! As Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians has said, “…this is an act of insanity. This would be a crime against future generations. This is a crime against nature.”

I would ask everyone to consider leaking tanks at Hanford, in Washington, & the impacts on the Columbia River. Consider the Asse Mine mess in Germany. Consider leaks, emissions, train &/or truck derailments. Consider the BP oil spill. Boxes of tritium products falling off a truck in Ottawa, necessitating that streets in the surrounding area be cordoned off (that’s SRB products). Consider the Strontium-90 in the Ottawa River as a result of operations at the Chalk River facility. Consider the mess at Dounreay in Scotland. An explosion there because of waste being handled sloppily – & the massive, absurdly expensive means & efforts now necessary to remediate that site. I could mention Port Hope. I could mention a tritium groundwater plume in the town of Pembroke, Ontario. (Again, that’s associated with the SRB facility in Pembroke.)

Large accidents. “Small” accidents.


Industry people say “Trust us.” But we cannot. How could we possibly??

Concluding Words:

OPG President/CEO Tom Mitchell admitted at the nuclear industry waste conference in September 2011, referring to the (very much still ongoing then and very much still ongoing now) Fukushima nuclear disaster that “The unthinkable can happen.”

For most people, it would be unthinkable to poison the drinking water of 40 million people. Or actually, even to contemplate doing so!

Nuclear activities have already poisoned bodies of water all over the planet. The industry cannot be permitted to ruin the drinking water of all those who rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. “Bury it & run” is not an acceptable basis for the responsible handling of nuclear waste.

At the same nuclear waste conference that was such a learning experience for me, Adrian Simper, Strategy & Technology Director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK, spoke about decommissioning activities in Britain. He was upfront about the fact that the so-called nuclear “legacy” there is a major public liability. He also acknowledged that the NDA is spending taxpayers’ money, so it must be done responsibly.

He seems to have a firm grasp of the fact that those of us being saddled with all this nuclear waste must be permitted a say in how it is handled.

Mr. Simper said several rather memorable things. He spoke of clean-up activities at Dounreay in Scotland, where materials are being “recovered” from shafts & silos. That there are no actual records of what is there. “We don’t quite know what will happen,” he admitted.

He also said, referring to activities in the past, “They didn’t always think it right through to the end.”

He said “Risk is the overriding factor.”

That the “# 1 priority is when the risk is intolerable.”

Durham Nuclear Awareness & many others you are hearing from at this hearing agree that, with this project, the risks are quite clearly intolerable.

Nuclear waste must never be abandoned. It must be kept in engineered facilities where it will always be monitored – forever monitored & retrievable, should containment fail.

There must be zero tolerance for the escape of radiation from the storage facility. We have no right to impoverish or imperil the lives of our children and grandchildren and all future generations with any increase in exposure to ionizing radiation.

Dr. John Gofman, Ph.D & also a medical doctor, in the early days of his career as a scientist helped isolate the world’s first milligram of plutonium for the Manhattan Project. He later became a passionate & vocal dissenter from the nuclear project. He said a great many quotable & brilliant things (& he was not only a brilliant man, but also a funny one).

Among his many gems is this one: “I have examined the arguments of the promoters of nuclear energy, and they always boil down to the same absurdity: If everything goes perfectly, then everything will go perfectly.”

Things don’t go perfectly, do they? This scheme is not any more likely to do so than so many others we could name.

And I have just learned evidence in the past 24 hours about some of these other deep geologic repositories that are supposedly great. And they’re not great. They’re not working.

We ask that you deny OPG the right to proceed, & insist that they come up with better-thought-out plans for nuclear waste.