Pickering Hearing. Again!?

I’ve lost track by now of how many times OPG (Ontario Power Generation) has said the Pickering reactor complex (8 reactors, 6 of them operating, 2 in “cold shutdown,” right beside Lake Ontario, just east of the City of Toronto) is going to be shut down - only to change their minds later, & keep pushing it beyond its "design life."

Too many!

But now the plan is to run this aging complex yet another 10 years (or rather, another 6 years, but the request is for a 10-year licence). They refuse to let it die!

Hearing time is coming up!

Hearing details from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or CNSC, Canada’s nuclear “regulator,” here. (& more info here.)
 

Date (Part 1): April 4, 2018

Place: CNSC public hearing room, 14th floor, 280 Slater Street, Ottawa.

Time:  As set by the agenda published prior to the hearing date.

** note: this part is for the proponent (i.e., OPG) to tell CNSC tribunal members what its plans are. Some might call it a kangaroo court.*  See below.

** See THIS page on the CNSC site for relevant documents, including the transcript of the April 4th, 'Part I' hearing. The archived Webcast of the April 4th hearing is here.

Date (Part 2): June 26–28, 2018

Place: Hope Fellowship Church, 1685 Bloor Street, Courtice, Ontario.

Time: As set by the agenda published prior to the hearing date.

** note: this is the part the public gets to participate in, & say their piece. Some might call it a kangaroo court.*  See below.  

** In both cases, you can watch the hearing via Webcast. Go to the CNSC Web site & look around in the top middle section or upper right-hand corner for how to do this.

** Find the hearing notice here. *** Note: May 7th is the deadline for written interventions

Very Important Note!!

CNSC is a licensing body. An organization that exists to license nuclear operators. (That's even how they obtain 2/3 of their funding! So there's little incentive for the organization to bite the hands that feed it, hmmmm?)

They never turn down a licence request.

So this licensing hearing is liable to be the usual slam-dunk for the industry.

Listen, don’t trust me on this (though I’ve been attending CNSC hearings for 12 years now, have lost track of how many I’ve attended (TOO many), & have yet to see them refuse a licence request).

Here’s the word from the horse’s mouth, okay?

Never a single licence they’ve ever wanted to turn down.  Here.  

** Be sure to scroll down for a super-relevant quotation about nuclear hearings!

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Information Relevant for this Hearing **

** with more to be added as the days & weeks roll on

Ontario Clean Air Alliance has a Close Pickering campaign. Check it out!

Other OCAA materials:

** plenty more on their site too! Including a series of short YouTubes by a retired Ontario Hydro scientist, an M.D., the head of OCAA, a radiation biologist, & others … on why the Pickering station should be shut down.

Greenpeace Q & A: What you need to know about the Pickering nuclear reactors

 

On THIS site:

  • Nuclear ‘Elephants in the Room’ – a posting with information about a few of the “elephants in the room” with respect to the PNGS (Pickering Nuclear Generating Station).
  • Nuclear Emergency Plans in Ontario (‘PNERP’) Update - about the province’s not-very-robust, newly-revised nuclear emergency plans. (By all means, download & read the PNERP for yourself, on this page here.)
  • many links in that posting above, to other matters relating to nuclear emergency planning & plans.
  • KI: truth or Lies?  There is quite a lot of B.S. afoot on the subject of KI (potassium iodide) pills - this posting from October 2015 remains relevant.

** Lots of great quotations / insights about nuclear accidents on the DNA site, here. The Fukushima disaster in particular,  & an ever-important, still-utterly-relevant article about Nuclear “Regulatory Capture” – A Global Pattern.

Nuclear Liability-GP.jpg

Mousseau-Chernob & Fuk Damage copy.jpg

 

Super-Relevant 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>

2 Fukushima Anniversary Events! March 12 & 15/18.

On Facebook

From Fukushima to Toronto
Monday March 12, 7 p.m.
Sydney Smith Hall, 100 St. George St, Rm. 2118, U of T


On March 11, 2011, the world’s largest industrial accident occurred – a triple nuclear meltdown – in Fukushima, Japan. An area up to 50 km was evacuated and 160,000 people displaced, most whom have yet to return. Plants and animals are genetically damaged . Hundreds of thousands of bags of radioactive soil are stranded around the countryside with no waste solution in site, and 300 tonnes of radioactive water flows into the Pacific Ocean daily, contaminating the food chain. The catastrophe is expected to cost the Japanese economy between $200 and $500 Billion.

At this anniversary event we'll address a new report by Dr. Ian Fairlie, radiation biologist from the UK. His report considers what would happen if a serious nuclear accident, similar in extent to what took place in Fukushima, were to happen at the Pickering Nuclear Station just east of Toronto. The answer is alarming, exacerbated by the fact that Pickering is surrounded by millions of people. Greenpeace is also releasing a new report about Fukushima that will be shared at this event. We'll also discuss viable alternatives to nuclear power in Ontario, and brainstorm how to achieve a renewable future.

Speakers include: Kyoko Yokama, Japanese citizen and filmmaker; Angela Bischoff and Jack Gibbons, Ontario Clean Air Alliance; and Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace. There will be lots of time for questions and comments from the floor.

Co-sponsored by: Toronto Undergraduate Geography Society, Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)

Free. All welcome!

On Thur. March 15, there will be a similar event in Pickering (see below)

 & please sign these petitions: www.Close-Pickering.ca and www.BuyQuebecPower.ca

This is a Joint Human Geography and Environmental Geography Streams Seminar. Human Rights are Environmental Rights, and Environmental Rights are Human Rights too.

 

From Fukushima to Pickering
Thur. March 15, 7 p.m.
Pickering Public Library, 1 The Esplanade

 

On Facebook


On March 11, 2011, the world’s largest industrial accident occurred – a triple nuclear meltdown – in Fukushima, Japan. An area up to 50 km was evacuated and 160,000 people displaced, most whom have yet to return. Plants and animals are genetically damaged. Hundreds of thousands of bags of radioactive soil are stranded around the countryside with no waste solution in site, and 300 tonnes of radioactive water flows into the Pacific Ocean daily, contaminating the food chain. The catastrophe is expected to cost the Japanese economy between $200 and $500 Billion.

At this event we will address a new report by Dr. Ian Fairlie, radiation biologist from the UK. His report considers what would happen if a serious nuclear accident, similar in extent to what took place in Fukushima, were to happen at the Pickering Nuclear Station just east of Toronto. The answer is alarming, exacerbated by the fact that Pickering is surrounded by millions of people. We'll also discuss viable alternatives to nuclear power in ON, and brainstorm how to achieve a renewable future. There will also be a theatrical performance and short film.

Speakers include: Kyoko Yokama, Japanese citizen and filmmaker; Angela Bischoff and Jack Gibbons, Ontario Clean Air Alliance. Theatrical performance by Broadleaf Theatre. There will be lots of time for questions and comments from the floor.

Co-sponsored by: Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)

Free, all welcome! 



And please sign the petitions: www.Close-Pickering.ca and www.BuyQuebecPower.ca

Nuclear Emergency Plans in Ontario ('PNERP') Update

Just before Christmas (2017), the Province of Ontario released its long-awaited, very overdue update of the PNERP – Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan. (The Fukushima disaster began nearly 7 years ago now – March 11, 2011 – & the PNERP, which is supposed to be updated every 4 years, had not been updated since 2009. So it was about 4 years overdue when it finally came out.)

The announcement was made without fanfare on December 21, 2017 – when all was growing quiet on the government/bureaucratic/personal front for most people – right before the long Christmas break. No media coverage … by design, perhaps?

The announcement is here & within that item, you can click on a link to download the updated PNERP.

Or find it here.

There was a Toronto Star article published on December 28th. ‘Ontario’s long-awaited new nuclear emergency plan falls short, Greenpeace saysWhile other countries have strengthened public safety since Fukushima, it’s taken the Ontario government six years to maintain the status quo,” said Stensil."

N.B. A very recent article here, also: Are Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans dead in the water? (Feb. 5/18)

 

Nuke Emergency Planning in Ontario: who (REALLY) runs the show?

Technically, it’s the responsibility of the Office of the Fire Marshal & Emergency Management (OFMEM) within the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services.

Technically, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is only responsible for nuclear emergencies out to the fence line of the plants they run at Pickering & Darlington – in Durham Region, just east of Toronto. (Pickering is right in Toronto’s backyard, pretty much … just over the back fence, you might say, really, while the Darlington plant is only another 30 K down the lake (& highway). A hop, skip and a jump are we in the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA, from 2 gigantic nuclear facilities (6 reactors operating at Pickering, 4 at Darlington). Yes, it’s pretty sobering – but shoot – only if you’re paying attention of course...)

However, anyone who follows nukes in Ontario knows who really runs the show. OPG does. If you take a look at this old item (a presentation made to the Durham Regional Council in June 2014), one thing you’ll observe (on pg. 3) is how very many agencies, both provincial & federal (& regional & municipal as well, in fact) are “at the table” when nuclear emergency plans are made.

Fact is, OPG dominates the whole show.

DNA attended one of these meetings, back in November 2013. Who was around that very big table? A lot of very quiet bureaucrats, with OPG & CNSC sitting like head honchos at the head table. Minutes of the meeting (& all of these NEMCC – Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee – meetings) can only be obtained through time-consuming Freedom of Information requests.

So it’s all quite a bit less than transparent, shall we just politely say, & gives every appearance of having the provincial government agency (theoretically) in charge of emergency planning in actual fact entirely subservient to OPG.

But listen. I’m making this all sound like a dysfunctional family, with a lot of “He said, she said,” and me sounding all sour grapes. (I do see what I see, mind you, & know what I know.)

However, one need not really “buy into” my take on this.

You can deduce for yourself whether or we are properly prepared for a serious nuclear emergency here in the GTA … or, for that matter, up near the Bruce Nuclear plant on Lake Huron.

 

Nuts and Bolts

The Province’s “discussion paper” is here. It was released in mid-May 2017, & people were able to provide comments on it until July. My understanding is that around 1500 responses to the plan were sent in to the provincial government.

CELA – the Canadian Environmental Law Association – widely recognized for deep & wide expertise on all matters nuclear emergency in Canada, gave the proposed plan a ‘D.” You can see the CELA report card here.

40+ civil society groups endorsed a Call for Public Safety.

Take a look at that here.

Motions calling for better emergency planning were passed last year by municipal/regional Councils in

  • Ajax
  • Amherstberg
  • Brockton
  • Durham Region
  • Essex County
  • Windsor
  • Toronto

With plenty of attendant media coverage – most of it listed here.

 

So … Then What Happened?

Well. We all waited. & waited. (We’ve all gotten pretty good at waiting, by now, hmmm?)

And then there was a nuclear emergency “exercise” out in Pickering on December 6 & 7.

And the very day the “exercise” began, Ontario’s Auditor General released a report indicating that Ontario’s nuclear emergency planning is seriously deficient.

Sarnia mayor weighs in after auditor’s less-than- glowing review of provincial preparedness'

“Neither Ontario’s emergency preparedness nor its nuclear response plans has been updated in almost a decade and budget cuts have trimmed staff and programs at its emergency management office, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, the province’s spending watchdog, reported.

And there aren’t enough people trained to staff Ontario’s emergency centre for a crisis longer than two weeks, a cabinet committee overseeing emergency management hasn’t met in years and few ministry-level practice tests in the last five years involved simulations.

The weakness in Ontario’s emergency planning and oversight make the province “vulnerable if a large-scale emergency were to occur,” the report said.

“It is essential in a province the size of Ontario that the government be ready to act in the event of an emergency,” Lysyk said in a statement.”     London Free Press, December 7/17.

& then, on December 21st, the Province quietly released the revised PNERP.

Greenpeace’s reaction?  Here.

 

TVO Show on Nuclear Emergency Planning

This took place last week. A four-person panel with two pro-nukers (basically) & CELA & Greenpeace spokespersons Theresa McClenaghan & Shawn-Patrick Stensil.

You can watch it for yourself here.

Nobody explained why OPG was on the panel, when their responsibilities (theoretically) only extend out to the fence line at their nuclear plants.

(See what I mean?)

Or why the Province – i.e., the Office of the Fire Marshal & Emergency Management (OFMEM) within the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services – was not on the panel. I’m still scratching my head about that. (One possibility is that OFMEM knows perfectly well they can’t really defend their wishy-washy, about-as-good-as-wet-tissue-paper emergency plans. Especially up against McClenaghan & Stensil, who understand the issue inside out, upside down & backwards. Better than the politicians or the bureaucrats. So many people know this.)

Couple key points brought out by the latter two:

It's a slippery slope, alright....

 

Speaking of Evacuation…

Though the government doesn’t seem to like to…

Some recent items on the subject of evacuation – which one needs to know a bit about, given the possibility (& necessity) of evacuation after a major nuclear accident.

Dr. Ian Fairlie (radiation biologist) released a report just a week ago (January 27/18), about the ins & outs of evacuation.

Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents

“This article discusses three related matters –

  • The experience of evacuations during the Fukushima nuclear disaster
  • Whether lengthy evacuations from large cities are feasible?
  • Some emergency plans for evacuations in North America”

And concludes

And how long would evacuations need to continue….weeks, months, years, or decades? The time length of evacuations is usually avoided in the evacuation plans seen so far. In reality, the answer would depend on Cs-137 concentrations in surface soils. The time period could be decades, as the half-life of the principal radionuclide, Cs-137, is 30 years. This raises the possibility of large cities becoming uninhabited ‘ghost’ towns like Tomioka, Okuma, Namie, Futaba, etc in Japan and Pripyat in Ukraine.

This bleak reality is hard to accept or even comprehend. However, it is a matter that some Governments need to address after Fukushima.

Wheatley et al (2017) comprehensively examined the historical records of 216 nuclear accidents, mishaps and near-misses since the mid-1950s. They predicted the future frequencies and severities of nuclear accidents and concluded both were “unacceptably high”. Wheatley et al (2016) also concluded that the relative frequency with which nuclear events cascaded into nuclear disasters remained large enough that, when multiplied by their severity, the aggregate risk to society was “very high”. It is unsurprising that, after Fukushima, several major European states including Germany and Switzerland have decided to phase-out their nuclear reactors.”

 

Another item I ran across recently, regarding evacuation:

MIT No-Evacuations Study Debunked (you really have to watch this, believe me!)

My take is this: What our governments are up to (as they listen over-much to the nuclear "authorities")

.... is letting the nuke plants keep running, even in the face of a multiplicity of overarching reasons why they should be shut down … pretending they actually have nuclear emergency plans worthy of the name … & simply raising the amount of radioactivity to which it is “acceptable” to be exposed (“acceptable:” a favourite weasel word in the industry; along with “robust,” of course) – & letting us all rot in our houses, sucking up the fallout, should a serious accident occur.

I only wish I were making this all up… But, as previously referenced, I see what I see, & I know what I know.

 

Conclusion?

A friend of mine used to have a funny saying: “Porch light’s on, but nobody’s home.”

We could paraphrase this, vis-à-vis nuclear emergency planning in Ontario, to

“The porch light is OFF, & NOBODY’s minding the store.” Nobody.

 

Keep those fingers crossed, everyone!

And hope the proverbial you-know-what does NOT hit the proverbial fan here in the GTA.

(or on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes, where there are several nuke plants … or up in Bruce Nuclear territory. If you go to this page, you'll see a map of nuclear sites around the Great Lakes.)

 

It sure wouldn’t be pretty….

But after all,

“It can’t happen here” … eh?

 

A Few Resources

Auditor General report

Emergency planning section of the AG report. Media reports here (Sarnia mayor) & here (Windsor Star) & here (Amherstberg Fire Chief)

Call for Public Safety

CELA gives the plan a ‘D’

Evacuation: Report Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents (Fairlie)

& YouTube MIT No-Evacuations Study Debunked

Bottom line? Ever since the Fukushima disaster began in March 2011, the nuclear industry has been working to increase the levels of radioactivity considered "acceptable" for people to be exposed to. Looks as though the real plan behind the scenes is, if there is a big nuke accident, "the authorities" will just tell everyone "Nah, no worries! Just stay home. The levels of radioactivity are nothing to worry about. Sit tight."

That idea is explained, and debunked, in the 17-minute video.

Fukushima: the story of a nuclear disaster (fabulous book!)  This very detailed, very helpful book outlines the progression of the Fukushima nuclear disaster thoroughly – and also lays out very carefully how U.S. nuclear regulators have carefully promulgated the “It can’t happen here” myth – ever since the Three Mile Island meltdown in March 1979.

Fukushima: accident / emergency planning quotations

Gundersen’s 4 Critical Lessons from 5 Meltdowns (Powerpoint presentation) 

Grossman on ‘regulatory capture’ - a worldwide problem

Linda Keen (former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) quoted in this article in March 2011: “I still believe (evacuation planning) is one of the most unplanned things,” Keen lamented.”

Media reports on resolutions passed in 2017, calling for better EP in Ontario

Provincial Growth Plans & Nuclear Plans on Collision Course

The value of nuclear emergency exercises (from Fukushima: the story of a nuclear disaster)

 

A Few Relevant Quotes

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

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

“In 1979 the NRC admits the Rasmussen Report ‘greatly understated’ the range of chances for a nuclear accident. The proper translation is what nuclear critics have been saying all along, before and after the Rasmussen Report: no one has the foggiest notion what the probability is of major nuclear power accidents.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power

“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.”  Or, “Trust us! Even though we have come close, we still have our first major city to knock over.” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.  in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power

 “I still believe (evacuation planning) is one of the most unplanned things,” Keen lamented.” – Linda Keen, former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, quoted in this article 'Is Ontario ready for a nuclear disaster?' in March 2011, a week into the Fukushima disaster.

“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

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." — Nobel physicist Richard Feynman after 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion

"Chernobyl has once more demonstrated, as did Three Mile Island, that a nuclear accident anywhere is a nuclear accident everywhere." — Alvin Weinberg

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

 

Upcoming Event: Dec. 5th: Nuclear Accidents Happen - Then What?

Nuclear Accidents Happen – Then What?

A public discussion about the Pickering Nuclear Station & Emergency Measures

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 7 - 9 p.m.
Pickering Recreation Complex - 1867 Valley Farm Rd, Pickering, O'Brien Room A (located at the back of the complex, where the skating arenas are. Parking lot at the back, or east end, of the complex)


** Note: This venue is an easy walk from the Pickering GO station.

A panel discussion with:
* Kerrie Blaise, Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
* Dr. Ian Fairlie, Radiation Biologist
* Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst, Greenpeace
* Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)
* Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA)

Free. All welcome!

Are Ontario's plans for nuclear emergencies up to snuff? Many of us think not. Come & learn what "the authorities" are doing (or not doing) to protect us all in the event of a nuclear emergency.

On December 6th & 7th, OPG & 30+ agencies (municipal, regional, provincial & federal) are conducting a big "emergency exercise" at the Pickering nuke plant.

You're not invited.

  • Do you know what to do in the case of a nuclear explosion?

  • Where would you go?

  • What are the risks?

  • What should we ask of our governments and OPG in order to be properly prepared & protected?


Join us for a community conversation!

Host Organizations: DNA (Durham Nuclear Awareness) and Ontario Clean Air Alliance
For more info: 416 260 2080 x 1, angela@cleanairalliance.org

www.Close-Pickering.ca
www.BuyQuebecPower.ca

On Facebook

Nuclear Emergency Plan? CELA Gives it a ‘D’

 Background

Ontario’s nuclear emergency plan is called the PNERP. Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan. It is supposed to be reviewed & revised every four years. Its review was four years behind schedule when finally released last week.

(The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster – a disaster that is very much ongoing – began 6 years ago now, just as a reminder. March 11, 2011.)

Quick note: a tsunami is not required for a nuclear disaster to occur! (Feel free to take a look at these two lists of nuclear disasters over the decades (long list; short list). Not only is a tsunami not required, the Japanese accident is the only one of this long list that did involve a tsunami. Consult the Quotations section on this site to read a list of quotes about how/why this disaster did take place. Hint: It wasn’t about the tsunami & earthquake.)

 Nuclear Emergency Plan Now Out for Review

So, the Province (specifically, the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services & its Office of the Fire Marshal & Emergency Management, or OFMEM) has released a revised PNERP for review.

The public has until July 14th to offer comments. **** (Note: the comment period has been extended to July 28th, at midnight.)

Find the news release about it here.

& the EBR (Environmental Bill of Rights) posting here.

 NGO Lessons Learned

CELA (the Canadian Environmental Law Association) and Greenpeace have been learning about & working on the nuclear emergency planning scene for several years now.

The kind of emergency plan the Province creates, we now know, depends upon the kind of emergency for which it chooses to prepare.

So … if they prepare for a minor accident, they only make plans for a rather low-key response.

If the assumption is made that only a “small” release of radionuclides (i.e., radioactivity) will occur, then you don’t go into the detailed planning for evacuation centres, decontamination sites, what to do with children in schools and daycare centres (how to reunite families, that is to say) … or seniors in retirement and nursing homes … or the kind of widespread evacuation that would be required in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), for example, if a Chernobyl or Fukushima Daiichi-style accident (& major radioactivity release) were to take place at one of the 10 operating nuclear reactors at Pickering or Darlington (6 operating reactors at Pickering, 4 at Darlington).

It might be a bit like, as a parent, planning to take a First Aid course so you’ll be prepared to deal with emergencies that come up with your children. Off you go to class, where you learn that the instructors have decided to assume your child will only ever encounter a very minor accident. They teach you how to put a band-aid on a very small “boo boo” – & send you home, un-prepared to deal with the more serious emergencies you are all too likely to encounter along the way.

 An Accident Can’t Happen Here?

Well, we covered that. Nuclear accidents can occur anywhere. Major ones are occurring at the rate of about 1 every 10 years.

So … it does seem prudent to be prepared for whatever level of accident could potentially occur, wouldn’t you say?

 Btw, 86% Surveyed Want Plans for Serious Accident

In the lead-up to the 2015 Darlington relicensing hearing, DNA commissioned a survey of residents living near that plant (on Highway 401, just west of the town of Bowmanville, in the municipality of Clarington).

86% of those surveyed said they want to see detailed emergency plans for a serious, Fukushima Daiichi-level disaster.

DNA’s powerpoint presentation about the survey presented at that hearing can be reviewed.  DNA-supplem. (Our full written submission is here DNA)

 Learn More About Nuclear Emergency Plan Review

CELA, Greenpeace and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario held a joint media conference last week, a few days after the Province announced the release of the review.

And, presented at the news conference last week,  A Call for Public Safety endorsed by 40 public interest groups, “calling on the Wynne government to fill gaps and fix flaws in Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans that leave people vulnerable in the event of a nuclear accident on the Great Lakes” (from the news release).

 For the record

Several recent incidents have highlighted the need to be prepared for emergencies (of any kind) ahead of time.

A few months ago there was a major snowstorm in Quebec in which some motorists were stranded in their cars for as long as 12 hours. In the political aftermath of this storm, a deputy-minister was fired and a police staffer put on administrative leave. According to the news article, “’The premier had acknowledged on Wednesday that the province "lacked co-ordination" in its response.’” In other words, the left hand was not too sure what the right hand was doing.

More recently, & closer to home, there was flooding in the town of Bowmanville that led to some confusion and criticism flying among politicians there. (See article Orono May10.)

Bottom line?

Lack of preparation & coordination for emergency situations – ahead of time. Too many “fingers in the pie.” Things “falling between the cracks.”

Inadequate response to emergencies seems to be entirely too common.

 To Conclude?

Well. We know the nuclear industry is fully aware that a serious accident could occur at one of Ontario’s nuclear plants. An industry staff person explained to those attending the Durham Nuclear Health Committee meeting in January 2017 that on-site emergency drills are held at the nuke plants 5 times per year.

It seems almost as though the industry is keen to have its own staff prepared for a serious nuclear emergency – but that the “powers that be” are rather more cavalier about preparations for what occurs “off-site.” To you & me, I mean. The “general public.”

Emergency “exercises” take place – but the public is not involved in these, & continues to be quite ill-informed about what to expect if a nuclear disaster hits. (Several media items attest to this at the time of the big Darlington emergency “exercise” held in Spring 2014, for example this one from the Pickering paper “Pickering, Clarington residents not sure what to do in nuclear emergency.”)

** Note: a good quick assessment of the true usefulness of massive nuclear emergency "exercises" can be found in this item: Emergency exercises-UCS

 Parting Shot

Boxer Mike Tyson once observed, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” A serious nuclear accident is one heck of a punch in the face.

Ontarians need to be sure to pay attention to this nuclear emergency plan review.

Make use of the resources provided here, and weigh in. Speak up!

Deadline = July 28th, so you have time to study up on it all.

 

** more to come...

 

31st Anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster

** 2 events coming up! Tonight & on April 30th. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster began on April 26, 1986.

That’s when it began … but the disaster continues to roll out, day by day, month by month – year after year … and now, decade after decade.

Since genetic mutations are passed down from generation to generation, this is not an “accident” - a tragedy - that is ever going to stop happening.

Children, in particular, are devastated by the fallout from nuclear disasters. Their genes have been damaged, their food is full of radioactive fallout – & if the country they live in has been devastated economically (this is a given, of course), how can things possibly go “well” for them?? (check out the most recent Nuclear Hotseat podcast to learn about the U.N. cover-up of health impacts from the accident, here.)

As Fairewinds Education’s Arnie Gundersen asked rhetorically in a recent telebriefing about the season of nuclear disasters – Three Mile Island, Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl all occurred in the Spring months – we know when nuclear disasters begin – but …

When do they end?

Well. They don’t. Sadly, they just don’t.

As exiled Belarussian scientist Yury Bandazhevsky sees it, “Chernobyl is not finished, it has only just begun.”    ('Ruined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years')

Bandazhevsky spent 6 years in jail for telling the truth, & was released only after civil rights groups in Europe took up his case.

As Voltaire said, “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

Telling the truth once a nuclear disaster has hit your country does not always go well for the truth-tellers. This would likely play out the same way here if we sustained our own, homegrown nuclear meltdown (the same way it has in the cases of both the Chernobyl & Fukushima Daiichi disasters).

Basically, all bets are off once this kind of disaster hits.

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

A nuclear accident is one helluva punch in the face.

 Why Should We Care?

Well, off the top, because we like to consider ourselves “civilized” human beings. (Yes, of course, I know, some or even perhaps many of us are not particularly civilized. A discussion for another day…)

If we are the sort of people who only care about something that affects us directly, we need to care about the accidents like Three Mile Island, Fukushima Daiichi & Chernobyl, because a nuclear accident can happen anywhere. (Plenty of them have! See Links section below for more on that score.)

Tell me: Did you know this? Ontario Power Generation holds on-site emergency drills at its local nuclear plants 5 times per year.

The general public does not benefit in any way from these drills. But it’s kind of a signal that the “powers that be” are 100% aware that a nuclear accident is possible … wouldn’t you say?

 Emergency Planning in Ontario

If an accident were to happen here, it would not likely be handled well.

Why? Because our nuclear emergency plans are predicated on there being only a minor accident, and a “small” release of radioactivity.

We are in no way prepared to deal with a major nuclear accident here.

You can read these “old” articles about the nuclear emergency planning scene.

I still believe (evacuation planning) is one of the most unplanned things,” Keen lamented (she said this in 2009, but the article the quote is in is from March 18, 2011, i.e., 1 week into the Fukushima Daiichi disaster)

Is Toronto Ready for a Radiation Emergency? (January 2016)

I’m sorry to report that they are still every bit as accurate as they were in 2011 & 2016, when the stories were published.

Provincial nuclear emergency plans are now 4 years overdue to be revised, though the (start of the) Fukushima Daiichi accident is now fully 6 years behind us.

 What to Do?

Please honour the victims of the Chernobyl disaster by learning about their lives now, 31 years after the accident began (many links below in DNA’s 30th anniversary posting).

Check out & consider donating to Chernobyl Children’s International and/or Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund.

If you have a very strong constitution, you can look for images of Chernobyl’s damaged children on the Internet. CAUTION: heartbreak & tears are very likely outcomes. (Note: a photo collection here - remember my words of warning...)

AND. Please check out the Ontario Clean Air Alliance's Close Pickering campaign!

 LINKS

Accidents & Incidents on Nuclear Files.org site  (use the Timeline heading along the top to find a particular decade)

Accidents list here, also (a short & rather incomplete one, by way of comparison to the link above)

Arnie Gundersen Telebriefing on TMI, Fukushima Daiichi & Chernobyl, in early April 2017

Books about Chernobyl

Chernobyl’s Fallout Spread to “Wherever it rains in the United States

Chernobyl: 30 years. The ongoing disaster (DNA posting in 2016 with many, many good links)

http://durhamnuclearawareness.com/2016/04/21/chernobyl-30-years-the-ongoing-disaster/

5 Powerful Films about Chernobyl  

Fairewinds has a special Chernobyl section on its site.

Genetic damage in Chernobyl (& Fukushima) - 20-minute YouTube featuring evolutionary biologist Dr. Timothy Mousseau

Ontario Clean Air Alliance newsletter (April 21/17, has a section on Chernobyl)

Ruined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years

***** UN's Chernobyl Health Coverup Exposed (Nuclear Hotseat podcast)

 

Evacuation zones for nuclear reactors

Four Lessons from 5 Meltdowns     ** Video + Audio + Slides

 

 Other relevant postings on the DNA site

High-profile former nuke supporters now anti   

Provincial Growth Plan & Nuclear Plans on Collision Course

http://durhamnuclearawareness.com/2016/09/29/provincial-growth-plan-nuclear-plans-on-collision-course/

Secret health deal (between the IAEA & WHO - dates back to 1959)

Quotations about emergency planning / Causes of Fukushima disaster

 

 3 Quotations to leave you with:

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’

“We knew, with certainty - with arrogant certainty - that we were in control of the power we were playing with. This was the day we learned we were wrong.” - Sergiy Parashyn, Chernobyl Engineer (quoted by Arnie Gundersen in May 2016, in 'Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Seismic Report, Part I' (Also quoted in excellent article here )

 

** Please stay tuned to this Web site (&/or the DNA Facebook page) for any announcements about the release of the draft, revised provincial nuclear emergency plan. Public input will be considered & yours will be needed!

Radioactive Roads: this plan must be stopped!

U.S. and Canadian nuclear officials are cooperating on a plan to send somewhere between 100 & 150 truckloads of extremely dangerous liquid nuclear waste along 2000 kilometres of roadways in Canada & the U.S. over the next several years. These trucks will take highly radioactive liquid waste from the Chalk River facility northeast of Ottawa, Ontario to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. (Unless the brakes are put on the scheme, at any rate.)

To see a map of the possible routes these trucks would take, and to get an excellent summary of the project as a whole, you can review this slide presentation &/or take a look at this Web page.

There is a lot more to this proposed project than meets the eye – or that officials are acknowledging.

& I must correct myself. This is not just a proposed project; for all we know, these shipments may already be underway. The officials in question have obtained the necessary permits & approvals to proceed – in spite of the fact that there is a considerable amount of opposition from concerned citizens, activists, & some politicians – on both sides of the border. (See lengthy media items list under 'Resources,' below.)

** Note on June 20/17: indeed, the shipments are underway.

Container emits radiation during liquid nuclear waste transfer

Background

This scheme has been in the planning stages since 2008. Nuclear officials claim it’s necessary to do it in order to meet “non-proliferation” targets – but my colleagues believe it is nothing more than a “make-work project for the people down at Savannah River site in South Carolina.”

You have to ask yourself these questions:

Why are officials playing fast & loose with the real nature of the witch’s brew, as the slide presentation indicates?

Why do they not acknowledge the material can be safely handled in its current location? Indonesia has recently "downblended" its HEU (highly-enriched uranium).  (Backgrounder on HRLM). That can be done here as well.

Why would politicians who have been well-briefed on the issue (on both sides of the border) have said they do not want this scheme to proceed without proper scrutiny? (i.e., an Environmental Impact Statement, in order to assess possible risks & viable alternatives.)

& about those casks? They were “approved” for use in the past … but not for liquid materials, for solid nuclear waste. (Even a fan of nuclear energy can see that liquid waste will not behave as solid waste would in the event of an accident or spill.)

Did you know that accidents do happen with fuel waste falling into pools at reactor sites? (Read a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission memo about this from January 2016 CNSC Memo-Jan'16-incident Nov'15Minutes-CNSC January 28, 2016 – the 2nd item also deals with a spill in Saskatchewan in early 2016.)

Doesn’t everyone know that transportation of nuclear waste on public roads is an extremely risky business? So risky that mayors in the U.S. have resolved they want to minimize these risks by seeing nuclear wastes treated as near as possible to their source location. U.S. Mayors 2014 Resolution on Nuke Transport

Finally, once you know that recent events have shown that accidents really DO happen (not even rarely!) – incidents like a burning bridge; a recent tractor trailer accident that resulted in a spill of toxic cargo, necessitating emergency response & later decontamination of the 1st responders,   and, a few years back, a burning truck containing nuclear material – an accident that was not even reported to the Canadian nuclear authorities! - you know you have to sit back for a bit & wonder...

Leading to this final question: Can we really trust the nuclear “authorities” when they say shipments are “routine” & “safe?”

Politicians in Niagara Region (Ontario) Have Taken Action

The regional government in the Niagara Region west of Toronto passed a resolution in June 2015 stating:

“That Regional Council EXPRESS opposition, in principle to any shipment of radioactive liquid waste over public roads and bridge, or on any navigable waterways, or by air, recognizing that such waste can be, has been and should solidified so that it is far less accessible to the environment and living things, and,

That Regional Council URGE the governments of Canada and the United States to halt the shipment of high-level radioactive liquid waste from Chalk river Laboratories to the Savannah river, pending the outcome of full public consultations on the advisability and the potential adverse impacts of the proposed shipments, as well as the alternative procedures to achieve the stated objectives for such shipments.”

You can read more about it in the article Regional Government Joins Women’s Council In Calling For Halt To Plans To Ship High-Grade Nuclear Waste Through Niagara To Border Crossings.

On the U.S. side, there is citizen opposition in Michigan, New York State & North Carolina. New York State Congressman Brian Higgins has been speaking out against the liquid shipment scheme for some time now.

What to do? What to do?

If this project has been in the works for darn near 10 years already (it has), & the scene vis-à-vis “downblending” has changed (it has), & knowing that the transportation of nuclear waste carries tremendous risks (we know it does)

& if the plan is so safe that it really ought to be able to proceed…

Why not put on the brakes & initiate a public process that will involve public agencies (including those in charge of emergency response) … & the public … taking a very thorough look at this plan, the necessity of moving ahead with these 100-150 truckloads, and a careful examination of viable alternatives?

Transparency – & public scrutiny – are surely called for here … are they not??

 

What can be done?

Make noise!

“Transportation is the Achilles’ heel of nuclear security and everyone knows that,” said Bruce Blair, a retired Air Force missile officer, Princeton University researcher and founder of Global Zero, a nonprofit group that seeks elimination of nuclear weapons.

The danger is not a traffic accident — even a fiery crash is not supposed to explode a warhead — but a heist.

“In an age of terrorism, you’re taking a big risk any time you decide to move nuclear material into the public space over long distances via ground transport,” Blair said. “Bad things happen.”

From this recent article:

This troubled, covert agency is responsible for trucking nuclear bombs across America each day

 

PETITION

** A petition regarding this dangerous, unnecessary project is now before the federal government.

PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the following, that

Whereas:

  • The nuclear regulators of Canada and the United States have approved the shipment of 23,000 litres of highly radioactive liquid – to be trucked over 2000 kilometres from Chalk River, Ontario to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina;
  • These shipments are to utilize casks never physically tested for liquid contents;
  • The nature of the liquid material has been mischaracterized by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) as “Uranyl Nitrate Liquid,” whereas the liquid solution contains dozens of radioactive waste materials collectively more than a thousand times more radioactive than uranyl nitrate;
  • This project is projected to consist of between 100 and 150 truckloads over a period of several years;
  • There is considerable opposition to this project in both countries by both citizens and elected officials;
  • Calculations show that one litre of this liquid is sufficient, in principle, to ruin the drinking water supply for any city in North America;
  • There is no need for these shipments, given that the highly enriched uranium can be eliminated by “downblending” at the Chalk River site; and
  • The radioactive liquid can also be solidified at the Chalk River site as has been done for similar radioactive liquids at Chalk River over the past 14 years.

Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to suspend these shipments immediately, pending an independent environmental assessment that will consider alternatives such as down-blending and solidification of the liquid, as originally planned.

·

Resources

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: 6 years in

March 11th marks six years since the beginning of this nuclear disaster (though really, catastrophe is the more accurate word to describe the situation). Nuclear disasters are notable for never going away. They never get “better.” They never end.

Fallout is forever.

Just ask the people for whom, for example, the Chernobyl disaster of April 1986 is still a daily reality. Do the math; this accident occurred 31 years ago now. (Exiled scientist: 'Chernobyl is not finished, it has only just begun')

And the people of Japan, now 6 years into their own nuclear nightmare.

For six years now, the radioactivity spewed by the triple meltdowns that took place on Japan’s coast – in an area of the world hit frequently by earthquakes (any of which might make the nuclear situation even worse) – has been poisoning the people of Japan – who are now being obliged to accept higher levels of radioactive exposure as “acceptable” – the creatures in the Pacific Ocean (tons & tons of radioactive water from the plant gush into the ocean daily, & radiation is now detectable in fish on the west coast of North America) and, is also spread around the globe via air currents, .

One doesn’t hear much in the mainstream media about the situation on the ground for the Japanese people. Those of us who do hear about it rely mostly on alternate rather than mainstream news sources.

(Why should this be so, you ask? Mainstream media outlets determine their editorial policy (i.e., what they consider “fit to print”) around the source of their revenues, i.e., advertising dollars. It has ever been the case that “He who pays the piper, calls the tune” … has it not?

And the nuclear industry has deep pockets, very very deep pockets - often using mainstream media to print their advertising inserts as though they were news (you have likely been fooled by this yourself. Always read the fine print!)

Then there is the collusion of the nuclear industry with the rest of the nuclear “establishment” – which means government & bureaucracies of all kinds, at all levels, and it is a global problem. (WHO & IAEA & all those big agencies? All involved in the collusion. This item describes why we hear nothing about negative health impacts from the use of nuclear energy. Yes, I know. It’s shocking.)

Some Recent News / Commentary About the Fukushima Situation

Beyond Nuclear

Six years after Fukushima began, “normalizing” radiation exposure risks the health of women and children; evacuees are given few options but to return to contamination

Counterpunch

Fukushima Catastrophe at 6: Normalizing Radiation Exposure Demeans Women and Kids and Risks Their Health

Fairewinds

It could have been worse

 The heartbreaking legacy of Fukushima Daiichi

** you’ll find plenty more Fukushima material on the Fairewinds site

Greenpeace

*** Fukushima - a warning to the world - must-see short YouTube (10 minutes)

Interviews with 2 Japanese women who describe the high levels of radiation people are being forced to live in / return to and, in the case of children, attend school in. Mention is also made of the reactors in the U.S. that are the same type as the Fukushima reactors & carry the same risks.

New Radiation Readings in Fukushima Reactor 2 Are ‘Unimaginable,’ Lethal in 1 Min.

Nuclear Hotseat

Nuclear Hotseat Fukushima Episode featuring ‘Voices from Japan’

** so good to hear the voices of the people most directly affected tell us what’s really going on…

NIRS - Nuclear Information & Resource Service - Telebriefing with Arnie Gundersen(1 hour recording from April 5th - covers all the major nuke accidents)

Simply Info - Fukushima 6th Anniversary Report

6 years after nuclear disaster, residents trickle back to deserted towns (Japan Today)

What Can You Do?

You can work in your own local community to help get your local nuclear plant(s) shut down. Nuclear accidents can happen anywhere, and if one were to happen here in Ontario, there is no reason to suppose it would play out any differently than the way it has in Chernobyl & Fukushima.

In other words, it would be ugly … very, very ugly indeed ... in a whole variety of ways.

Sign the Close Pickering petition & offer to help deliver fliers to your neighbours, friends, family & colleagues.

If you'd like to help the children of Japan, here is a group that raises funds to send affected children away for vacation time to Hawaii, in order to give their immune systems (& themselves!) a break from the radiation they are now routinely bathed in at home.

Fukushima Kids Hawaii

Greenpeace has a petition you can sign.

p.s. need a reminder about the causes of the Fukushima Catastrophe?

Nuclear ‘Elephants in the Room’

** Note: this was first posted in February. It's being highlighted once again in time for the OPG emergency "exercise" taking place this week, December 6th & 7th. Not much has changed! There are still plenty of elephants in the room. See article here about the meeting coming up tonight.

Pickering’s nuclear generating station is the 5th largest in North America and 4th oldest in North America (it’s been operating since 1971) … & is located within 30 kilometres of 2.2 million people. All of Toronto is within 50 kilometres of the Pickering station. (& don’t forget, Darlington is just down the highway too!) The plant is licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) until August 2018.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to push the licence out another 10 years.

But there are elephants in the room that hardly anyone seems to be talking about.

 

The Elephants (in alphabetical order)

Canada’s Nuclear Regulator = unreliable

 In 2016, both a whistleblower letter from CNSC staff & a federal audit revealed sloppy practices inside Canada’s federal nuclear regulator.

This Globe and Mail article from last October sets the stage about the heat the regulator is facing – with as yet no apparent signs the federal government is listening.

According to a CBC news item “[Commissioner of the Environment & Sustainable Development] Gelfand said 75 per cent of site safety inspections were carried out without an approved guide, and compared that scenario to a pilot taking off on a flight without going through a safety checklist.

“’I think it’s pretty serious,” she said Tuesday at a news conference across from Parliament Hill.’” (refer to the article link above)

As it happens, CNSC receives 70% of its funding from the nuclear industry in “cost recovery” fees. This means CNSC would actually appear to have a vested interest in keeping the Pickering plant operating.

& puts into question how likely it is CNSC can/will provide a truly independent & unbiased review when OPG sends the agency its license request for a renewal.

Very few of us will “bite the hand that feeds us” … will we??

 

Inadequate Emergency Planning

A DNA posting here remains relevant. (All that’s changed is some KI pills have been distributed to people within the so-called ‘Primary Zone’ (i.e., 10 kilometres) of the plant.)

A Toronto Star article from January 2016 asks whether Toronto is ready for a radiation emergency – & is also as relevant now as when it was published a year ago.

As a matter of fact, this Toronto Star item from 2011 – Is Ontario ready for a nuclear disaster? (published one week into the then-new Fukushima nuclear disaster) – still also remains timely!

*** We are still waiting! The Fukushima disaster began 6 years ago now … & still there are no revised emergency plans in Ontario.

 

Nuclear Waste On-Site

14,000+ tonnes of it! (NWMO 2017 report on waste)

According to figures published by the NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Organization) –  a nuclear industry body – as of June 30, 2017 there were 399,703 used fuel bundles in “wet” storage and 337,114 in “dry” (see page 3 in the linked report). For a total of 736,817.  The longer the plant is operating, the bigger the numbers become.

 

Safety issues

 

Tritium is released routinely into air & water

 

((((Oh & btw, your home is not insured against a nuclear accident.

A Scarborough resident speaks about this here.)))

 

** These are just a few of the “elephants in the room.” There are more!

 

And if the plant is closed?

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance has studied alternatives & claims that closing the plant, & replacing the energy generated there with hydro power from Quebec can lower our electricity bills by $1 billion.

 

Learn more about the Ontario nuclear scene: