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

 

 Resources: