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

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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.

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