Municipal Candidates Overwhelmingly Favour World-Class Nuclear Emergency Planning for Durham Region

Whitby, October 14, 2014Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)’s municipal election survey indicates there is a near consensus among respondents that elected officials should advocate for the province to consult openly with the citizens of Durham Region on updating nuclear emergency plans, with the goal that revised plans will meet international best practices. DNA posed three questions on this topic to the 209 candidates running for office this Fall. Candidates were asked:

1. If elected, will you advocate for world-class nuclear emergency plans that meet or exceed international best practices?

2. Do you support directing Durham Region staff to study and provide a report to Regional Council on international best practices for nuclear emergency plans?

3. Do you agree that Durham Region should request the government of Ontario to openly and transparently consult with the municipalities and citizens of Durham Region on new off-site nuclear emergency plans?

Responses were overwhelmingly in the affirmative on all three questions.

The overall response rate was 60%, with Oshawa’s being the highest at 73% and including three incumbent Regional Councillors and two incumbent City Councillors responding. Scugog showed the lowest rate of return, at 27%. No incumbent politicians in Scugog responded to the survey.

As DNA spokesperson Gail Cockburn comments, “With the recent KI pill pre-distribution motion passing unanimously at Regional Council in September, these survey results clearly establish there is both the need and the political will to strengthen nuclear emergency planning in Durham Region.”

DNA’s Web site shows results broken down by municipality so that citizens can easily see what their local candidates have stated publicly about the need to better protect Durham’s citizens in the event of a nuclear emergency. 

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ELECTION 2014: 209 Municipal Candidates Surveyed

DNA conducted an election survey on nuclear emergency planning with all 209 candidates running for municipal office in the elections coming up on October 27th. All candidates in each of Durham's 8 municipalities were included. The questionnaire with its explanatory preamble can be found here.

** There is a near consensus among respondents that elected officials should advocate for the province to consult openly with the citizens of Durham Region on updating nuclear emergency plans with the goal that revised plans will meet international best practices.

Check out the comprehensive results in the documents below! Each individual document contains the questions, as well as overall results & individual candidates' comments.

DNA Survey Results-Reg. Chair2

DNA Survey Results-AJAX2

DNA Survey Results-BROCK2

DNA Survey Results-CLARINGTON2

DNA Survey Results-OSHAWA2

DNA Survey Results-PICKERING2

DNA Survey Results-SCUGOG2

DNA Survey Results-UXBRIDGE2

DNA Survey Results-WHITBY2

 

 

 

 

KI Motion - Sept. 17/14.

Durham Regional Council Meeting, September 17/14.

Motion

Moved by Councillor O’Connell, Seconded by Councillor Jordan,
(144)

“Whereas exposure to gaseous radioactive iodine following a nuclear reactoraccident is a serious concern because it increases the risk of thyroid cancer;

Whereas there are 10 operating nuclear reactors in Durham Region;

Whereas the timely ingestion of Potassium Iodide (KI) can block radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland and thereby significantly reduce the risk of thyroid cancer following a reactor accident;

Whereas other Canadian provinces with nuclear reactors (New Brunswick and Quebec) and other countries such as France and Switzerland pre-distribute KI to all residents, schools and businesses in proximity to their nuclear stations;

Whereas the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has proposed a new requirement for KI to be pre-distributed along with educational materials to all residents within the 10-km evacuation zone by the end of 2015;

Whereas the Government of Ontario has objected to the new requirement on jurisdictional grounds;

Now be it resolved that Durham Region requests the Government of Ontario, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the Durham Emergency Management Office and Durham Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to collaborate and ensure that CNSC’s proposed KI pre-distribution requirement is implemented by the operators by the end of 2015.

Be it further resolved that Durham Region requests the Government of Ontario and the CNSC to seek input from Durham Regional governments and their citizens on future changes to off-site nuclear emergency plans.

Finally, note that a copy of this resolution will be sent to:

  • All Durham Region municipalities
  • Durham Nuclear Health Committee
  • City of Toronto
  • City of Toronto Office of Emergency Management
  • Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
  • Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Canadian Association of Nuclear Host Communities
  • Bruce Power
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • Members of Provincial Parliament
:

- Granville Anderson (Durham) - Joe Dickson (Ajax-Pickering) - Christine Elliott (Whitby-Oshawa) - Jennifer French (Oshawa) - Tracy MacCharles (Pickering-Scarborough East) - Laurie Scott (Haliburton/Kawartha Lakes/Brock) - Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood)

  • Members of Parliament

- Colin Carrie (Oshawa) - Barry Devolin (Haliburton/Kawartha Lakes/Brock) - Chris Alexander (Ajax/Pickering) - Corneliu Chisu (Pickering/Scarborough East) - Erin O’Toole (Clarington/Scugog/Uxbridge)”

CARRIED ON THE FOLLOWING RECORDED VOTE:

Yes

  • Councillor Aker
  • Councillor Ballinger
  • Councillor Bath
  • Councillor Chapman
  • Councillor Clayton
  • Councillor Coe
  • Councillor Collier
  • Councillor Diamond
  • Councillor Drew
  • Councillor Drumm
  • Councillor England
  • Councillor Foster
  • Councillor Henry
  • Councillor Jordan
  • Councillor McLean
  • Councillor Mercier
  • Councillor Mitchell
  • Councillor Novak
  • Councillor O’Connell
  • Councillor O’Connor
  • Councillor Parish
  • Councillor Perkins
  • Councillor Pidwerbecki
  • Councillor Rodrigues
  • Councillor Ryan
  • Councillor Woo

Members Absent:

Marimpietri, Neal

Conflict of Interest: None

<To locate official minutes for this meeting, go to this page on the Durham Region Web site. Once there, click on Minutes & Agendas. Once there, Select Regional Council from the list of options, make sure to select 2014 also, then click on search. What will come up is a page with dates, agendas & minutes. Select the minutes for Sept 17th & you're away to the races!>

Note: for more information about KI on this blog, go to the Resources/Info page heading at the top & click on it.

News Items: Councillor says pre-distribution could prevent ‘chaos’ during emergency

*** Durham Region.com Article on-line here ** Note on Sept. 25th - 2nd news item (in Oshawa Express) here

Potassium iodide pills could be distributed to Durham homes near nuclear plants

Councillor says pre-distribution could prevent ‘chaos’ during emergency

DurhamRegion.com By Jillian Follert

DURHAM -- Durham residents living within 10 kilometres of a nuclear plant could soon have potassium iodide pills distributed to their homes.

The move comes after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission proposed a new requirement for the pills to be pre-distributed to all residents living within the 10-kilometre evacuation zone, along with educational materials.

Bureaucratic red tape has held up the process, prompting local politicians to take matters into their own hands.

On Sept. 17 regional council passed a motion moved by Pickering Councillor Jennifer O’Connell and Ajax Councillor Colleen Jordan, that calls on local officials to implement the program in Durham by the end of 2015.

“This is simply putting the KI in the hands of residents, rather than in the hands of pharmacies hoping that people actually go there and pick them up,” Coun. O’Connell said. “What’s the point of having this if, in the event of an emergency, it’s not actually in the hands of residents?”

Coun. Jordan noted the pills are most effective when taken quickly and said leaving the pills at pharmacies could create a mob scene in the event of a nuclear disaster.

“It’s going to create a lot of chaos in the areas where pills are stockpiled,” she said.

Members of Durham Nuclear Awareness praised the council decision, saying it follows best practices in other communities.

In Quebec and New Brunswick, where Canada’s other nuclear plants are located, it is standard practice to distribute the pills to homes and businesses within a set radius every five years.

“We’re pleased Durham regional council is telling the Ontario government that public safety is a priority. This is the first concrete step we’ve seen to update Durham’s nuclear emergency plans since the Fukushima disaster in 2011,” said DNA spokeswoman Gail Cockburn.

Potassium iodide pills are currently available to Durham residents at specific pharmacies, and are also stockpiled at local schools, child-care centres and health-care facilities.

However, focus group research done for Ontario Power Generation revealed very few Durham residents had obtained the free pills.

Potassium iodide works by protecting the thyroid, the part of the body most sensitive to radiation.

The pills are most effective when taken immediately before or after a radiation leak -- but they can have severe side effects, so should only be taken in an emergency.

Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan told regional council that Ontario Power Generation should be responsible for the cost and distribution of the pills, not the municipalities.

He said he has spoken with OPG officials and “the co-operation is there.”

OPG spokesman Neal Kelly says details are currently being ironed out between the various agencies involved.

“We will work co-operatively with the other agencies to develop plans that meet the needs of Durham Region residents,” he said.

The recommendation from the CNSC is part of an ongoing review of Canada’s emergency preparedness in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The motion passed by council directs the Durham Emergency Management Office and Durham’s medical officer of health to work with the Ontario government and CNSC to get the program off the ground.

Reporter Jillian Follert covers the City of Pickering and the Region of Durham for Metroland Media Group's Durham Region Division.

** Note on Sept. 25th - 2nd news item in Oshawa Express here

** Note also! KI info on this site can be found here

KI Motion Passes

** News release sent out yesterday

Regional Council supports anti-radiation pills for residents in Durham

Whitby, September 17, 2014 – Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) salutes Durham Regional Council’s decision to endorse the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) pills to over 200,000 residents within 10 km of the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations by the end of 2015.

Because KI pills can reduce the risk of thyroid cancer if taken soon enough after a reactor accident, they are already pre-distributed to families around the Point Lepreau reactor in New Brunswick, as well as in France, Sweden and Switzerland.

This summer the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said it wanted KI pills pre-distributed around Pickering and Darlington by the end of 2015, but the Ontario government is resisting new requirements on jurisdictional grounds.

Pickering Regional Councillor Jennifer O’Connell proposed a resolution at the September 17th meeting of Regional Council requesting that the province work with the federal government to ensure KI is distributed to residences in Durham Region by the end of 2015. The resolution passed unanimously.

“We’re pleased Durham Regional Council is telling the Ontario government that public safety is a priority. This is the first concrete step we’ve seen to update Durham’s nuclear emergency plans since the Fukushima disaster in 2011,” said Gail Cockburn from DNA.

Today’s resolution also calls on federal and provincial governments to seek input from Durham Regional governments and residents of Durham on any future changes to off-site nuclear emergency plans.

DNA is currently surveying candidates for municipal office in Durham about their views on updating Durham’s off-site emergency plans. The results of the survey will be published in October.

- 30 –

KI Resolution-Sept.17'14

Nuclear Hotseat: great resource!

Nuclear Hotseat is a site offering weekly interviews with people in the know about a variety of nuclear issues/events. Its main page is found here.

I recommend visiting that page, then clicking on the 'Podcast/Blog' tab at the top.

What comes up then is a listing of the interviews Libbe HaLevy has done in previous weeks/months.

They're all extremely informative.

Of particular interest to people in Durham Region, I would guess, are these 2 recent ones:

Nuclear Hotseat #165: Dr. Ian Fairlie on Soaring Child Leukemia Rates near Nuke Reactors

Nuclear Hotseat #161: UN’s UNSCEAR Fukushima Radiation Report Blasted by IPPNW’s Alex Rosen

Though I'd venture to say every single interview/podcast is of potential interest, given Durham Region's special status as host to not just one, but two major nuclear reactor complexes - both in rather startling proximity to Canada's largest city, Toronto.

Quotes Related to Nuclear Emergency Planning/Fukushima accident

** note on May 25 & July 31/15: I keep adding to these! ** Sept. 15/15: this list is now also available as a "page" running across the top of the site

“A major factor that contributed to the accident was the widespread assumption in Japan that its nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was simply unthinkable. This assumption was accepted by nuclear power plant operators and was not challenged by regulators or by the Government. As a result, Japan was not sufficiently prepared for a severe nuclear accident in March 2011.” [August 2015 Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Foreword by the Director General]

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management (held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

"The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 were natural disasters of a magnitude that shocked the entire world. Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response." - Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairman of The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Pg. 9)

"A “manmade” disaster: The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)" -- from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 16)

"The government, the regulators, TEPCO management, and the Kantei lacked the preparation and the mindset to efficiently operate an emergency response to an accident of this scope. None, therefore, were effective in preventing or limiting the consequential damage." — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 18)

“The Commission has verified that there was a lag in upgrading nuclear emergency preparedness and complex disaster countermeasures, and attributes this to regulators’ negative attitudes toward revising and improving existing emergency plans.” – from The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 19)

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

“…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in a (4-minute) March 27/14 interview, discussing the 3rd anniversary of Fukushima accident (March 11/11)

Re: Failure to hand out KI Pills in Japan: ``In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, several national and local government officials and advisers blamed the delay on a communications breakdown among different government agencies with responsibilities over various aspects of the disaster.

They also cited an abrupt move by the government shortly after the accident, when local officials raised sharply the level of radiation exposure that would qualify an individual for iodine pills and other safety measures, such as thorough decontamination.

"Most of our residents had no idea we were supposed to take medication like that," said Juichi Ide, general-affairs chief of Kawauchi Village, located about 20 miles from the plant. "By the time the pills were delivered to our office on the 16th, everyone in the village was gone." <from Wall St. Journal article, quoted in Watershed Sentinel> ** underlining mine

“Complacency and hubris are the worst enemies to nuclear safety.” -- Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at USC who worked on the National Academy of Sciences July 2014 report that was reported on in the article below

Nuclear plants ill-prepared for worst-case scenarios, report says

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’

The Fukushima nuclear accident was the result of “human error in which people failed to make the proper preparations.” – Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

“They’re protected against nuclear accidents – unless an accident actually happens.” – David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, speaking in March 2013 at Helen Caldicott Symposium on 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission): "We have defined safety measures against the things that we kind of know. An accident is going to be something that we didn't predict," he said [in this article]. ** Jaczko, as the article explains, resigned as Chair of the NRC in 2014, & now campaigns for a global nuclear phaseout. He is one of the many people interviewed in the 2015 documentary 'Indian Point.' (on Facebook here)

“It was a journey to hell without a map.” – Kai Watanabe, 27-year old maintenance worker at Fukushima plant who believed “Duty comes first.” (quoted in Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster)

From the Introduction in Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The story of Fukushima Daiichi is a larger tale, however. It is the saga of a technology promoted through the careful nurturing of a myth: the myth of safety. Nuclear energy is an energy choice that gambles with disaster.

Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight. Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate.

Although the accident involved a failure of technology, even more worrisome was the role of the worldwide nuclear establishment: the close-knit culture that has championed nuclear energy – politically, economically, socially – while refusing to acknowledge and reduce the risks that accompany its operation. Time and again, warning signs were ignored and brushes with calamity written off.” <Page vii> Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists

“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  (also quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima )

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

** Great long quotation about the value of biennial emergency exercises in later posting here.

** (Recent) YouTube: 18 minutes on four common issues/problems demonstrated by the Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents (narrated by former nuclear industry exec/engineer Arnie Gundersen, who worked for the nuclear industry at the time of the Three Mile Island accident)

Nuclear “Regulatory Capture” — A Global Pattern

 

Nuclear Emergency Planning: Did You Know?

** On March 11, 2011 a major nuclear accident took place in Fukushima, Japan. 146,000 people were told to evacuate in a 20-kilometre radius around the plant. 270,00 people remain away from their homes in northeast Japan since the tsunami/earthquake/nuclear disaster. A study carried out by the Japanese Parliament concluded in 2012 that the cause of the nuclear accident was “man-made” and cited collusion between the nuclear regulator and TEPCO. In April 2013, Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated at an international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

The Nuclear Emergency Scene in Durham Region

1. A very large number of agencies are involved in nuclear emergency planning. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the (federal) Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) have responsibilities for on-site emergency response, while off-site emergency planning is the responsibility of the Province of Ontario. Within Durham Region, the Durham Emergency Management Office (DEMO) is responsible for implementing provincial plans. With the dauntingly large number of federal, provincial, regional and municipal agencies involved, there is a very real risk of bureaucratic mix-ups in the event of a major accident. Such mix-ups occurred both in Ukraine following the Chernobyl accident, and in Japan following the Fukushima accident.

2. Sufficiently detailed plans for a serious nuclear emergency do not currently exist. Plans currently in place under the PNERP (Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan), the TNERP (Toronto Nuclear Emergency Response Plan) & the DRNERP (Durham Region NERP) are for a smaller accident, not for a Chernobyl or Fukushima-style major accident or very large radioactive release. The emergency exercise carried out at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in May 2014 involved more than 50 agencies – but no members of the public – and was not planned around the possibility of a major accident.

3. The Ontario and federal governments have failed to review & revise the Province’s nuclear emergency plans to address accidents involving large radiation releases since the Fukushima nuclear disaster took place in March 2011.

4. Most citizens are ill-prepared to respond to a serious nuclear emergency – even those who live close to one of Durham’s two large nuclear generating stations. Current measures requiring personal emergency preparedness and/or possible evacuation are neither well-detailed nor widely understood ... nor widely communicated. For example, most citizens are not aware that they are responsible for making their own evacuation arrangements in the event of an emergency (even if they don’t own a vehicle), what means of transportation to use if they don’t own a car, or how to effect family reunifications. (See article here.)

5. “Sheltering in place” (i.e., staying where you are when you are notified of a nuclear accident) may be an early instruction, but in the case of an actual release of radionuclides from a nuclear power plant, most ordinary houses will not provide adequate protection from all exposures, again stressing the need for effective evacuation planning. Evacuation plans and routes and locations of evacuation centres are not familiar or known to people in Durham Region or the Greater Toronto Area in general, who might have to evacuate quickly in the event of a serious nuclear accident at Pickering or Darlington.

6. The Province of Ontario determines the “zones” of notification in which public alerting after an accident & the distribution of potassium iodide pills (see below), must be carried out.  These zones are both arbitrary and inadequate, and in no way reflect the distances over which radiation may in actuality travel, or where dangerous hot particles may ultimately land.

7. Potassium iodide pills (known as KI pills) must be taken as soon as possible after a major radioactive release in order to prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine, possibly later resulting in thyroid cancer. This is an important action to reduce the risk of damage to the thyroid gland, but is only effective if taken at the right time (i.e., just before or at the very beginning of a radioactive release). It must be noted that KI does not prevent the absorption of a host of other radioactive isotopes that could be released to the air and unwittingly breathed in, and so, as already outlined, effective evacuation is also key.

8. Regulations about the distribution of KI pills are currently under federal review in Canada. In some countries (e.g. France and Switzerland) they are pre-distributed to all households within 10-50 km of a nuclear plant. The CNSC is recommending that regulations around KI pills be changed, and that KI be pre-distributed to all citizens within the 10-kilometre zone of any major nuclear facility. Ontario’s provincial government (which is in charge of Ontario’s off-site nuclear emergency plans) does not appear to be in support of this initiative. (See recent Toronto Star article here.)

9. On June 17th & 25th [2014] , Durham Nuclear Awareness made presentations & asked members of Durham’s Regional Council to advocate on behalf of its citizens for world-class nuclear emergency plans, and to ask the provincial government to conduct transparent public consultations with Durham Region and its citizens on revisions to the province’s nuclear emergency plans. (The text of our June 25th powerpoint presentation can be found here.)

References:

2 News Articles -- KI pre-distribution issue

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission met at their headquarters in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada) last week for 2 days (August 20 & 21st). Agenda for the meeting can be found here.

** Meeting transcripts can be found here (August 20) & here (August 21).

One of the topics under discussion was a recent CNSC staff consultation on “Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response,” otherwise called Regulatory Document or REGDOC-2.10.1. There was a lengthy consultation period on this that began last Fall, & DNA was fortunate to take part in a phone conference on it back a couple of months ago, in June. This call involved mostly nuclear industry but also members of the public/NGOs who had commented during the consultation period. DNA had not submitted comments, but was permitted to take part in the call.

I watched last week's August 20/21st CNSC meeting live via Webcast.

Some of the discussion was quite lively!

Of great interest lately has been to find out that Canada’s nuclear regulator is advocating for pre-distribution of Potassium Iodide (KI pills) within the 10-kilometre zones of nuclear power plants (of which Durham Region of course has two, 2 very large nuclear generating stations). But that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) & the provincial health ministry (which bears responsibility for KI distribution) & the Emergency Management Ontario branch (which falls under the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services, and yes, if you are not confused by now by all this, take a bow; it is very confusing to anyone not an expert in deciphering their way through bureaucratic mazes) have been/are resistant to this plan.

(Please refer to the previous posting to see a list of the # of federal, provincial, regional and municipal agencies with responsibilities vis-à-vis off-site response to nuclear emergencies.)

Pretty sure there is more taking place here than is immediately apparent.

Here are 2 media reports on the situation, both published after last week’s 2-day meeting.

As I say, there is more to all of this than meets the eye. For sure there are serious jurisdictional issues that are preventing the implementation of adequate public protection measures needed in the event of a serious nuclear accident.

Who is really in charge?

The 2 media items:

Note: Just added in some KI information resources here.

DNA Presentation to Durham Regional Council - June 25th

On June 25th, 2014 DNA made a presentation to Durham's Regional Council to ask for leadership in requesting that the Province of Ontario upgrade nuclear emergency planning. Citizen presentations are limited to 5 minutes. The following information was presented to the Councillors in very considerable haste in order to meet the 5-minute deadline.

Presentation Title: Public Safety in Durham Region: Political leadership needed in upgrading offsite nuclear planning

(also here DNA to Reg Council June 25'14)

DNA Background

  • Working on Emergency Planning since 2012; regular at DNHC (Durham Nuclear Health Committee) meetings since early 2012
  • Sought expert help from Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
  • CELA’s expert has been on this issue since 1988, i.e., post-Chernobyl
  • CELA presented very comprehensive report to DNHC in September 2012 – & then at Darlington refurbishment hearing in December 2012 & Pickering hearings
  • DNA also invited to attend the Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee (NEMCC) meeting held in Toronto last November
  • On Monday (June 23rd) took part in CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) meeting/conference call re: recommended changes in EP measures – no one from DEMO or Region in attendance

DNA Take-Away?

  • Planning basis is not for major accidents, or for major releases of radioactivity
  • There appears to be much confusion among the public as well as among politicians as to who is responsible for what

Agencies Involved in Emergency Planning

DNA invited to attend Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee (NEMCC) meeting in Toronto last November.

Provincial Ministries involved in EP

  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Ministry of the Environment
  • Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Ministry of Northern Development, Mines
  • Ministry of Energy
  • Ministry of Attorney General
  • Ministry of Transportation
  • Ministry of Community & Social Services
  • Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services
  • Emergency Management Ontario, MCSCS
  • OPP – Emergency Management Unit
  • Communications Branch, MCSCS

Federal Organizations

  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Health Canada
  • Public Safety Canada
  • Transport Canada

Municipally & Regionally

  • DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office)
  • Kincardine
  • City of Toronto
  • Town of SaugeenShores
  • Town of Amherstbburg
  • Town of Essex
  • Laurentian Hills/Deep River NEPC

Take Away?

A lot of jurisdictional issues. Or, cracks to fall between.    Why politicians need to act.

What is Clear? 

  • MCSCS [Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services] is quite clear that the planning basis is not for large-scale accident or release
  • Durham Nuclear Health Committee also understands this
  • Joint Review Panel Recommendations: see list (#46)
  • Judge on Darlington New Build: Emergency Planning cannot be ignored

Also clear & essential to grasp:

  • OPG is not responsible for off-site planning & it is off-site we are here about

Emergency Exercise

  • OPG [Ontario Power Generation] report obtained by FOI [Freedom of Information] in May 2013 showed the public has no idea what to do in case of a nuclear emergency
  • Exercise held end of May: No doubt useful – but without public involvement, how can the public possibly learn from it?
  • The exercise has no bearing on the current planning basis for nuclear emergencies, or on what members of the public will do in the event of an accident

Take-Away: Need to keep eye on the ball & not get distracted!

  Fukushima: Real-Life Experience

  • So much to say, not enough time.
  • Many insights about the Fukushima disaster in these 2 books; I recommend them highly!
  • Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management held in Ottawa that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

<The books referenced are Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster & Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster>

Conclusions

  • Durham Region: 10 reactors, some very old now & running past “design basis”
  • Public confused - almost everyone seems confused about what to do if accident happens, & who is responsible for what
  • Durham Region stands to be most affected if the unthinkable happens, & I heard OPG CEO Tom Mitchell say [6 months into the Fukushima disaster] “The unthinkable can happen.”

Take-Away:

  • You as Durham Region’s elected representatives have a major responsibility here.

DNA Recommendation

DNA urges Durham Regional Council to advocate on behalf of its citizens for world-class nuclear emergency plans.

We recommend:

•  Durham Region study and endorse international best practices as our community’s expectation of offsite nuclear emergency plans.

•  Request that the Province carry out transparent and meaningful public consultations with Durham Region and its citizens on revisions to the province’s nuclear emergency plans.