DNA (Durham Nuclear Awareness) is a volunteer group of concerned citizens dedicated to raising awareness about nuclear issues & risks facing the people & communities of Durham Region (east of Toronto, Ontario), an area home to not just one, but two gigantic nuclear plants - & also the risks to the entire GTA (Greater Toronto Area).
These issues/risks include:
- continued production & storage of high-level radioactive wastes
- on-going "routine" releases of ionizing radiation from CANDU reactors during normal operations
- the need to incorporate the lessons learned as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that began on March 11, 2011.
An issue of particular concern to DNA is inadequate planning for nuclear emergencies at both of Durham Region’s nuclear plants.
As Dr. Maureen McCue (MD, PhD, Physicians for Social Responsibility) stated, when speaking at a United Nations event in New York City on March 13, 2013, “Evacuation zones/planning are inadequate all over the world.” (Note: right at the top of this blog site is the heading 'Quotes about Fukushima Disaster.' Click on it to find great quotations and insights about the Japanese nuclear disaster that began on March 11/11.)
Given the population size & density of Durham Region & its proximity to Toronto, Canada's largest city, DNA has grave concerns about the ability of the nuclear industry & the government agencies it depends upon to properly evacuate those who would need to be evacuated in the case of a serious accident involving a large release of radioactivity.
DNA Background & History
DNA was born out of a need for people in Durham Region to come together, learn & empower themselves after the Chernobyl nuclear accident on April 26, 1986.
The group was closely affiliated with Nuclear Awareness Project, & was very active during the late 1980’s & 90’s, sharing information about nuclear issues in Durham Region. Activities included:
- Advocating for improvements to nuclear emergency plans, including increasing the current 10 km primary planning zone to 30 km (see this 1997 letter from DNA to provincial authorities)
- Advocating for pre-distribution of KI pills to block absorption of radioactive iodine during nuclear emergencies, correcting the shortfalls in the public alerting system & ensuring that nuclear emergency plans prepare us for scenarios that go beyond the status quo government assumption that accidental uncontrolled releases of radiation during an emergency are so unlikely that plans are not required for that possibility
- Calling for the establishment of effective health studies to monitor the impact of Durham's nuclear industry on public health. Our efforts resulted in the establishment of the Durham Region Darlington Pre-Baseline Health Study Committee
- Challenging the operating licenses for Pickering & Darlington with presentations to the Atomic Energy Control Board & the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Lobbying for a ban on the export of tritium, which is the radioactive hydrogen used in hydrogen bombs
- Lobbying unsuccessfully for zero emissions of tritium from Durham's nuclear generating stations
- Lobbying for a review of the provincial guidelines for tritium in drinking water, which resulted in provincial reviews by the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards (ACES) & the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council (ODWAC). The province continues to ignore the recommendations made by their own consultants which would see permissible concentrations of this carcinogenic toxin dropped from the current 7,000 Bq/l (disintegrations per second per litre of water) to just 20 Bq/l averaged annually
- Participating in the ‘Stop the Tritium Trucks’ campaign