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Pickering nuclear station – unsafe, and likely to remain so

The Pickering nuclear plant’s explosive secret
Angela Bischoff says OPG has no plans to make its nuclear waste as safe as possible  Jul 19, 2018 by Angela Bischoff  Pickering News Advertiser   

The Pickering Nuclear Station has a deadly secret: 740,000 radioactive fuel bundles sitting on site — the legacy of close to 50 years of nuclear operations.

These bundles contain radioactive materials that can penetrate the human body, leading to serious illness or death. They also contain an enormous amount of plutonium, the key ingredient in nuclear warheads or dirty bombs. There is enough plutonium on-site at Pickering today to construct more than 11,000 nuclear warheads.

We recently asked internationally recognized risk expert Dr. Gordon Thompson to review the advisability of storing this enormous pile of toxic waste in the midst of Canada’s largest urban area and next to the source of our drinking water.

His conclusion was stark: The Pickering site, he found, is “suboptimal as a spent nuclear fuel-storage site from perspectives including defensibility, proximity of populations, and potential to contaminate Lake Ontario.” He added that the current waste storage facilities have no protection from rocket, bomb or aircraft attacks from the air or water and that, overall, the site is “lightly defended” at best.

Half-a-century after the start of nuclear power operations in Canada, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is still on the hunt for a “willing host” community to accept thousands of tonnes of spent fuel that will remain highly radioactive for thousands of years.

This means there is little chance the waste currently being stored at Pickering is going anywhere in the next 60 to 100 years. To add insult to injury, while Ontario Power Generation is planning to expand its conventional storage facilities so that Pickering can continue to produce and store more toxic nuclear wastes, it has no plans to make its new storage facilities as safe as possible. Specifically, it has no plans to build above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced-concrete vaults to protect Pickering’s wastes from a terrorist attack.

Continuing to operate this patched-up nuclear plant surrounded by millions of people, while piling up more and more toxic nuclear wastes in conventional commercial storage buildings, is the very definition of an extremely bad idea that can only get worse.

Those who support keeping Pickering running until 2024 or beyond, such as Premier Doug Ford, need to explain how they plan to safeguard the thousands of tonnes of deadly waste already stored at the site and why it is a good idea to continue adding more.

— Angela Bischoff is the director of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. We’re behind Ontario’s coal phase-out and are now working to move Ontario to a 100-per cent renewable electricity system.


July 21, 2018 - Posted by | Canada, safety

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