Darlington Hearing: ROBUST public response!

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has asked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a 13-year licence to continue operations at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS). During this period of time, they intend to “refurbish” (i.e., rebuild) the site’s four reactors at a cost (to taxpayers) of between $8 & 14 billion dollars. Previous posts on this site provide information about the refurbishment – information that most people probably don’t know, as well as a posting with many reasons why a lot of us think there is no need whatsoever for CNSC to give OPG an unprecedented 13-year licence (or even 10).

This posting will provide information about the hearing itself, which took place over a 4-day period, November 2-5, in Courtice – within seeing distance, almost, of the DNGS itself.

You can access video of the hearing here. The Webcast will only be available on the CNSC Web site for three months, to the best of my understanding.

On this page you’ll find links to the written transcripts from the hearing.

For convenience, here are links to each of the days' transcripts.

There was definitely what could accurately be called an extraordinarily robust response to this hearing. A total of 283 people wrote in, & approximately 65 individuals/groups/corporations presented in person. This is a very significant response, and for OPG & the CNSC to have had to devote four full days to the hearing is a statement about the considerable amount of public engagement & concern that exists regarding this license request.

Topics of concern from citizen groups/individuals included but were not limited to:

  • Accident risks
  • Cost issues
  • Cyber-security
  • Emergency planning deficiencies
  • Environmental impacts
  • Food security concerns (in the event of an accident)
  • Reactor safety: involving some highly technical discussion
  • Seismic issues
  • Transparency & trust (more to the point, the lack thereof)
  • The need to move to renewable energy sources
  • Waste: the vast quantities of new nuclear wastes to be produced by this project
  • Worker exposures / health issues & impacts

I might add that the education level of many of the intervenors is impressive. I’m not sure how many possess Ph.D.’s ... but it is quite a few. Citizen intervenors also included at least one medical doctor, several lawyers, & several engineers. This is not an unruly, uneducated bunch of rowdies we are talking about here. Just saying.

As well…

Quite a number of nuclear worker groups, chambers of commerce & corporations also presented at the hearing; not surprisingly, remarks from these quarters were inevitably very positive in tone. Extremely questionable to many of us is this so-called “quasi-judicial” tribunal’s willingness to hear from corporations that stand to profit by bringing in millions of dollars from this massive reactor rebuild project. Such individuals/corporations seem surely less-than-capable of neutral, unbiased or deeply questioning views on the risks of the project or the safety of the technologies involved.

Such, it must sadly be said, is simply the nature of CNSC hearings. This is not the first time I’ve witnessed this extremely questionable practice – it’s become a routine aspect of the proceedings. It is, quite simply, just the way the CNSC does business. CNSC may lay claim to being Canadians’ guardian of “nuclear safety” – but seasoned CNSC watchers find it seems to be far more of a nuclear industry booster than a true guardian of safety. It takes attendance at only one hearing for this to become abundantly clear.

As with every nuclear hearing I’ve attended over the past nine years, I was impressed over & over again at the level of learning, expertise (& also courage) demonstrated by the citizen “intervenors,” as we’re called. Many have considerable technical knowledge & awareness regarding the ins & outs of nuclear technology & its associated risks, clearly the result of many hundreds (if not thousands) of hours, in some cases over many decades.

By contrast, the nuclear boosters often sound more than a little foolish. It’s clear their knowledge is neither deep nor wide, in contrast to that of the citizens with their vast array of legitimate, wide-ranging concerns. It’s also clear that almost no one in the room (the very large “sanctuary” of the Hope Fellowship church in Courtice) – always including at least 20 or so OPG staff to one side, and at least 20 or so CNSC staff to the other, and the members of the tribunal sitting up front (at a long table on an elevated platform; six tribunal members, accompanied by the Commission Secretary & a CNSC lawyer, hold court at this elevated “head table) – really finds what the boosters say terribly compelling. You can sense a lack of real engagement among the audience members (even the paid, mostly quite highly paid, contingent among them, when these boosters are saying their piece). It’s palpable. Again, you have to be there to experience this.

By contrast, when any of the citizen intervenors with their array of numerous, truly sobering & substantial concerns is speaking (for the 10-minute time period they are allotted, no matter their level of expertise), one can sense a very keen interest in what is being said. Truth-telling is a compelling thing; there’s just no getting around it.

I ought to state right here that a person cannot really do justice to a CNSC hearing using words & descriptions; I know because I’ve been trying & failing to do just this for years now. You have to experience a hearing first-hand to grasp how they really work. It’s quite a show, and that’s the truth. In fact, there is an air to it of drama & performance. A great many untruths are spoken with deliberate, sober, straight faces. It can be quite challenging to listen to, a good deal of the time, when one is aware that lies are being spoken boldly left and right.

What I’m going to do next is provide links to a selection of outstanding “interventions” from the hearing, by category.

I’ll give links to the individual or group’s initial written submission & any “supplementary” submissions, as well as to page links for their remarks in the written transcript.

If you’ve never before paid attention to what is aired at a CNSC hearing, I guarantee you’ll be amazed at the quality of the submissions.

By all means, read the entire transcript, &/or watch the whole Webcast!


By category, some notable submissions:

Accident Risks, Seismic Risks (etc.)

 Cyber-security issues

Emergency Planning Deficiencies (etc.)

** This topic was referenced again & again & again … & then again. In fact, CNSC tribunal member Ms. Rumina Velshi observed at the hearing (see pg. 66 on November 4th) that more than 80% of the submissions received referenced concerns about inadequate emergency planning.

** You really must take a quick read of the CELA supplementary document linked in above! It spells out findings about inadequate emergency responses in the post-Fukushima accident period - in the assessment of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the global nuclear "regulator" - which it appears Canada's "regulator" & government agencies at all levels are studiously ignoring!

Environmental Impacts (etc.)

  • Ole Hendrickson (tritium) Nov.4th (p. 289-308)
  • Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Lake Ontario Waterkeeper-supplem Nov.3rd (p. 99-148)

Food Security (etc.)

  • Suhail Barot Nov.3rd (p. 281-292)
  • Belyakov  Belyakov-Supplementary   Nov.3rd (p. 194-206) ** Dr. Belyakov (who was born in Ukraine) also spoke of real-life, long-term consequences of the Chernobyl accident
  • NFU  (National Farmers Union) Waterloo Wellington Local Nov.2nd (p. 263-275). ** This presenter also referenced nuclear waste, nuclear waste transportation issues & real-life experiences in Germany, post-Chernobyl accident

Health / Worker Exposure & Safety Issues (etc.)

  • CAPE-written (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment) CAPE-supplem Nov.5th (p. 65-77)
  • CCNR (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility) Nov.3rd (p. 86-113)
  • Frank Greening   Frank Greening-Suppl (written; his letters discussed Nov.3rd p. 315-346) ** note: Greening is an ex-nuclear industry engineer
  • PHCHCC (Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee), Nov.5th (p. 88-102)
  • Anna Tilman  Anna Tilman-suppl   Nov.4th (p. 145-176)

Limitations of the (alleged) Severe Accident Study

** DNA posting about the (supposed) severe accident study here

Reactor Safety & Technical Issues

  • CCNR Nov.3rd (p. 86-113)
  • Michel Duguay Nov.5th (p. 131-146)
  • Greenpeace  Greenpeace-Suppl Greenpeace-supplem 2  Nov.3rd (p. 5-69)
  • Frank Greening  Frank Greening-Suppl (written; his letters discussed Nov.3rd p. 315-346)
  • Sunil Nijhawan  Sunil Nijhawan-Revised  Sunil Nijhawan-Revised2 Nov.3rd(p. 231-280) ** an extraordinary, I would call it unique, exchange!
  • Anna Tilman  Anna Tilman-suppl  Nov.4th (p. 145-176)

Waste / Waste Transportation (etc.)

  • Beyond Nuclear Nov.4th (p. 339-361)
  • NFU (National Farmers Union - Waterloo Wellington Local) Nov.2nd (p. 263-275)
  • Northwatch  Northwatch-supplem   Nov.5th (p. 10-64)
  • Sharen Skelly Nov.2nd (p. 236-244)
  • Anna Tilman  Anna Tilman-suppl  Nov.4th (p. 145-176)

Please understand: there were many, many additional thoughtful, intelligent, incisive, moving & compelling presentations during the hearing. I simply cannot include nor take the time to re-read them all. The most I can do here is touch on some especially memorable ones, ones that cover a wide range of topics of deep concern. I do encourage you to look over them all!

You can request a CD of the submission pdf’s that includes both original written & supplementary submissions, from CNSC staff, &/or hard copies. Do that by writing to info@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca

To Conclude

I am not in the slightest convinced that the public concerns raised by all these articulate citizens of Durham Region, Toronto, elsewhere in Ontario (also two from Quebec, one from New Brunswick & one from Washington, D.C.) were really heard – truly listened to & digested – nor do I really expect (based on a now-rather-large number of CNSC hearing experiences) them to be appropriately acted upon.

On the last day of the hearing, what became clear when CNSC staff & OPG made their final comments was that most of the incredibly large number of serious concerns raised by citizen interventors seem to have gone in the proverbial one ear, & right out the other. CNSC staff & OPG staff are quite practiced at dismissing, minimizing & denying safety issues of many (or all) kinds, & in many cases, patronizing even the most intelligent intervenors.

Then … it's right back to the business of creating nuclear waste … & picking up the generous (very generous indeed!) salaries that this work provides.

Btw, it’s decently possible the word “robust” was used a record number of times in this hearing. One CNSC staffer used it 3 times in a two-sentence span! (see pg. 350 of the Nov. 4th transcript). We seasoned CNSC watchers do know from this word’s exceedingly frequent usage that it is definitely something of a favourite among nuclear industry personnel, both here & in the U.S.

Something we know for sure is very very robust indeed, that the industry seems mostly loath to talk about &/or to skip over with considerable cavalierness (if this is a word), is nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is indeed wildly robust, robust beyond any of our wildest imaginings, even – and there is yet, 70 years into the great nuclear experiment, no solution for it.

None, none, none – not one (unless you consider leaking storage sites here, there & everywhere on our planet, & burning, yes, incinerating nuclear wastes, viable solutions). Consider checking out this item for information about 6000 nuclear waste sites in the U.S.A. Very sobering. & note: that’s only in the U.S.! The total number world-wide must be simply staggering. Truly mind-boggling.

So very much more could be said about nuclear waste. Dear me. But not here, & not now. (Although I can & do recommend you take a gander at this item to get a sense of how much NEW waste this proposed refurbishment project will create.)

Something that is not robust?

Nuclear emergency planning in Ontario. Definitely definitely definitely NOT robust. As many many many citizen & NGO intervenors referenced at this recent hearing.


A few memorable/relevant quotations:

The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed but that he cannot believe anyone else.George Bernard Shaw Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)

“The pay [for the professional apologists] has to be relatively high, because the job commonly requires the sacrifice of intellectual honesty.” John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. (1918-2007) in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 55>

“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.” – John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. (1918-2007) in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 125>

 “Perhaps you have noticed that every time a radioactive release is known to have occurred, officials announce, ‘but the amount released poses no danger to public health.’ There must, by now, be 100,000 such announcements. How many ‘small’ releases can we have and still have the total ‘small?’” – Dr. John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. in “Irrevy” – An Irreverent, Illustrated View of Nuclear Power <pg. 101>

** fascinating article about John Gofman here



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



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.

- 30 –

KI: Truth or Lies?

  1. Wassup?

KI (potassium iodide) is being distributed right now within the 10 kilometre “zones” of the Pickering & Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations (PNGS & DNGS) – two very large nuclear generating stations (10 operating reactors altogether; 6 at Pickering, 4 at Darlington) located east of Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

Direction sign to Nukes
Direction sign to Nukes

<graphic shows distances from downtown Toronto>

(KI distribution is also happening around the very large Bruce nuclear station on Lake Huron.)

This is by order of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canada’s federal nuclear “regulator.” More details below.

So, if you live in the 10 K “zone” around PNGS or DNGS, you will be receiving KI pills (by mail).

For the record, 2 things:

  • The DNA group was calling for KI pre-distribution back in 1997 (possibly even earlier) – specifically, for the emergency evacuation zones to be expanded from 10 K to 30 K, and for KI to be pre-distributed to everyone within the 30 K zone.
  • In New Brunswick, every resident has received KI in the 12 K “planning” zone, as well as within the 20 K “planning” zone of the Point Lepreau plant – since 1982 (they are delivered there door-to-door).

More “official” information about this program here.

KI Resources page on this site.

  1. Why KI?

Potassium iodide will protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine in the event of a nuclear accident. Children are particularly in need of this protection and particularly susceptible to thyroid cancer if not so protected.

Thus, having KI on hand in the event of a serious nuclear accident is a protective measure.

Having it ahead of time is essential, since during the disruption that inevitably follows a nuclear accident, obtaining KI pills is liable to be a low priority for citizens (& authorities) trying to cope with a plethora of other pressing challenges.

  1. Recent News About Thyroid Cancer – Japan

Last week Beyond Nuclear reported on recent studies about thyroid cancer incidence in Japan since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began on March 11, 2011.

Incidence is up dramatically, particularly in areas well west of the plant, where people were not evacuated.

Plenty of news about this on the Beyond Nuclear site here.

As well, the Toronto Star had an article about this recent research evidence.

KI pills were not distributed in Japan prior to the accident, nor at the time of the accident. A great many things went awry in the wake of the nuclear disaster. Evacuations were botched (including leaving people in what were known for weeks to be "hotspots)," orders to distribute KI fell between bureaucratic cracks, and overall, it is said, the “chain of command” in response to the nuclear disaster broke down.

(The posting ‘Fukushima: what really happened?’ has plenty of information about the disaster, as does the earlier posting ‘Fukushima: Emergency Planning? Failing Grade.’ Many quotes about the causes of the nuclear disaster can be found here.)

** Extremely important to note: thyroid cancer is not the only health impact possible. More on this below.

  1. Older News About Thyroid Cancer / KI Pills

As DNA members have learned from the American Thyroid Association 2014 brochure, KI proved to be pretty effective against thyroid cancer in Poland after the Chernobyl accident (April 26, 1986). According to this brochure, KI was distributed to more than 95% of the children within 3 days, & the rate of thyroid cancer “does not appear to have had an increase.” In Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, however, the children were not so fortunate. “As many as 3000 people exposed to that radiation developed thyroid cancer over the next 10 years. Most victims had been babies or young children living in Ukraine, Belarus and Ukraine.” “The region of excess risk extended up to a 200 mi radius from Chornobyl.”

Also mentioned: the cancers were “aggressive” & the associated health care costs continue to place a “heavy burden.”

In reading the book Voices from Chernobyl - The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (by recent Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich) I came across this comment about KI pills post-Chernobyl accident: “Those who could, got potassium iodide (you couldn’t get it at the pharmacy in my town, you had to really know someone).” <pg. 85> Not many could have taken it at the right time in any case, since the government failed to notify the citizenry until several days after the accident took place.

  1. The CNSC KI Directive – Fall 2014

Almost exactly a year ago (after much discussion, Fukushima “enhancements” to the Canadian nuclear plants, &, dare I say, public pressure) Canada’s nuclear “regulator” ordered that KI pills be pre-distributed to households within the 10 K “zone” of the country’s nuke plants.

(Discussing the "zones" around nuke plants is another whole topic. The zones are pretty much arbitrary, are designated by the industry itself for its own convenience, and, as we have learned from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, radioactive plumes are certainly no respecters of man’s artificial boundaries, national borders or regional dividing lines. Radioactivity travels with the winds – far & wide & very unpredictably.)

So, at 4:01 pm on Friday, October 10th last year (the Friday of Canadian Thanksgiving, a long weekend here), CNSC sent out a news release about what they call REG.DOC.2.10.1 & the plan to distribute KI pills. They might have been aiming to miss the media with that late Friday afternoon release, but it didn’t work out that way, and there was a fair bit of media coverage that weekend & early the following week.

Then, 4 days later, on October 14th, CNSC sent out a message with this info: “Four independent third party studies explore and describe the benefits of distributing KI pills in advance to citizens within a 30-mile (48 kilometres) radius of a nuclear power plant, and the need for timely and correct consumption of these pills in the case of a nuclear accident.

The studies indicate such preventative measures can greatly reduce the accumulation of radioiodines in the thyroid gland, as well as the resulting radiation dose. This is an essential measure, since thyroid cancer –, most specifically in children and infants – is one of the most frequently observed consequences of a nuclear accident.

The studies also highlight the need for appropriate administrative policies and increased research on the topic of children and infant consumption of KI pills, to better understand both the effectiveness and the safety of these measures.

Read the studies:  <end of quote from CNSC message>

Note: the media apparently did not receive this info. This was sent merely to the many of us who are on an information list for CNSC messages. Interesting that the press got the 10 K info … but not the info about 10 K probably being insufficient.


  1. Switzerland

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the nuclear regulator did modelling to assess the likely impacts of a Fukushima-scale (International Nuclear Event Scale or INES Level 7) nuclear accident.

They carried this out transparently (in stark contrast to CNSC’s “severe accident study” debacle; the severe accident study that was clearly NOT a severe accident study – all thoroughly laid out in the posting ‘Severe Accident Study. Oops. Not really!), and concluded by sending out KI pills to all Swiss citizens within a 50 K radius of their nuke plants. Info on this here (en français).

The American Thyroid Association, btw, recommends pre-distribution to 50 miles (not kilometres) & comments “No one can predict how far a radioactive iodine cloud might spread” & recommends 3 levels of coverage. Check out the brochure for yourself here.

It also notes that the WHO (World Health Organization) endorses KI distribution and that France, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland “not only stockpile KI but predistribute KI to their populations.”

Finally, this brochure states under the heading ‘How Should KI Be Incorporated Into an Overall Emergency Plan?’ “KI is an adjunct to evacuation, sheltering (staying in an unventilated room with the doors and windows closed), and avoiding contaminated food, milk, and water. KI should not take the place of any other protective measures.”

  1. Note! A very important note

In all the hoopla surrounding this discussion taking place in Durham Region these days, it would be very easy to lose sight of a highly important fact: thyroid cancer is not – not by a long shot – the only possible/likely health consequence from exposure to radiation following a nuclear accident.

There are myriad others. Note links below in the Resources section for information about health consequences – not just of exposure following an accident, but from “routine” emissions from nuclear plants.

2nd note: As just stated above, KI does not constitute emergency planning! With all the fuss being made by CNSC, OPG, Ontario’s health ministry and the Durham Region Health Department, a person could be fooled into thinking something of substance is taking place here. Really, it is not!

KI is an “adjunct” and “should not take the place of any other protective measures.”

KI will not prevent an accident from happening. It will assuredly not make you "safe."

It will also not protect you (or your loved ones) against the many other possible health consequences if an accident does take place. Nor, of course, from so-called Routine Releases.

  1. Conclusion & Resources

I hope it’s becoming clear that it's probably a pretty sensible idea to develop a healthy skepticism about claims made by the nuclear industry (& our “authorities”) regarding so-called nuclear “safety” & official readiness/preparations for a nuclear accident (the latter, we note, meaning “off-site” emergency response, being a provincial, regional and municipal responsibility).

If you’re not convinced yet of the need for a little digging, please look through the list of recent postings on this blog that you’ll see over to the right-hand side of the page.

Relevant Resources


Darlington Hearing: Weigh in ... & watch!

CNSC Hearing: Nov. 2-5, in Courtice (west of Bowmanville). ** NOTE: You can watch the hearing via Webcast. Go to www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca to find out how. (Allow yourself a few minutes to sort this out. You may have to fiddle a bit & click on several links before you get to the right spot. There should be a link on the upper right side of the main CNSC page.)

*** DNA's written submission to CNSC

What's It About? Why is this Licence a Bad Idea?

OPG (Ontario Power Generation) is asking for a 13-year licence to refurbish (i.e., rebuild) & continue operating 4 reactors at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS) -- at huge public expense.

There are many reasons to speak up about this “life extension” project & the 13-year licence:

  • Building these reactors will cost Ontario taxpayers a fortune! At least $10 billion. Probably way more. Heck, the project is already costing us a fortune.
  • Who knows if they will be finished safely & on time? (In 2009, 500 Bruce Power workers were exposed to alpha radiation during refurbishment activities there. Much more could be said about this; feel free to dig around on the topic! Nasty.)
  • OPG’s past licences have never been for more than 2-5 years. Thus, this request is unprecedented.
  • Such a long licence is not necessary; other reactor operators in Canada have neither requested nor been granted such a long term. Bruce Power went through a licensing hearing earlier this year at which they asked for, & were granted, a 5-year licence for similar activities, i.e., refurbishment & continued operation.
  • A licence of this length is a way of reducing public scrutiny over OPG’s operations at Darlington.
  • If DNGS gets a 13-year licence, members of the public would not have the opportunity to oversee what is going on at the plant until 2028. Public hearings allow citizens to review OPG’s operations, and to ask questions. This ensures that OPG remains accountable to its host community.
  • Regular re-licensing hearings allow the public & independent CNSC commissioners to scrutinize both OPG operations & CNSC staff oversight of OPG.
  • Reduced public scrutiny can increase the risk of an accident if OPG & CNSC staff are not regularly – and publicly – held accountable for their actions.
  • Without accountability & transparency, reactor operators & regulators can become complacent, ignoring their responsibilities to ensure public safety. This is often referred to as “regulatory capture.”
  • This is what occurred at Fukushima. Lack of proper scrutiny & oversight (proper regulation) led to the Fukushima accident, assessed to be a “man-made” accident (you can check out this posting for many relevant quotations about the causes of the Fukushima accident).
  • Emergency planning in Durham Region/the Greater Toronto Area is gravely inadequate in the event that a serious accident occurs. The plans have been made under the assumption that only a mild accident with a minor release of radioactivity would take place. All explained more thoroughly here & here. Bottom line? Residents of Durham Region/the GTA are not safe to assume they'll be well protected in the event of a serious nuclear accident.
  • Most citizens of Durham Region & Toronto actually don't have a clue what they would do if an accident did take place. People are not well-informed.
  • We don’t seem to be able to count on Canada’s nuclear “regulator” to tell us the truth about nuclear safety, nuclear studies, & so on. The Harper government has turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog.
  • Canada’s nuclear regulator claims its staff has conducted a “severe accident study” that indicates a “serious” accident wouldn’t really cause too much of a problem. Problem is, the study is not what it claims to be … not at all. Best to read the previous post to get the lowdown.
  • Nuclear refurbishments create (literally!) tons of new nuclear wastes. We all know there is nowhere safe for any of that stuff to “go.” Plenty of detailed info on that topic here.
  • It just doesn’t seem that OPG’s plans for Darlington are worth the risk.
  • You know what? I haven't even mentioned Lake Ontario, & what nuke plants do to the bodies of water they are located on. Holy smokes. Major omission. The Lake Ontario Waterkeeper site has some recent info; why not check that out? For sure, Lake Ontario takes a bit hit from this plant. Nor should we be risking the drinking water source for millions of people. Nosirree.

WHY Weigh In?

Those of us experienced with nuclear hearings & nuclear industry dealings find the CNSC doesn’t pay much attention even when a very large number of people tell them their licensees & licensees' plans can't be trusted. I say this advisedly, having taken part now in 10 hearings over the past 9 years.

Why do we keep showing up at CNSC hearings when the CNSC doesn’t really seem to be listening?

Because we need to get other people to listen!

Municipal / regional / provincial politicians – who can exert pressure on the Premier of Ontario.

It is up to Ontario’s Premier to sign off on this refurbishment project.

Politicians at the Durham (& Toronto) municipal / regional / provincial levels should speak up on our behalf (& their own!) because

  1. They live here too, so they're just as much at risk as you & I.
  2. It’s their job & responsibility to protect the citizens who put them there (& who, also, btw, pay their salaries!)
  3. It’s dangerous that so few people & so few politicians are paying attention to serious nuclear risks & seriously deficient nuclear emergency planning.

Nuclear accidents are happening around the world at the rate of one every 10 years. There is no way under these circumstances that OPG should be permitted to operate behind closed doors for 13 years.

Emergency Planning Deficiencies

Current provincial emergency plans are built around the assumption of a minor accident in which no large release of radioactivity takes place immediately. Unsafe, unreasonable assumptions.

Plans for a serious accident, then, are not robust.

In Durham Region, what this means is that DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office) is only really prepared for the evacuation of people in the immediate vicinity of the plants (Pickering or Darlington).

Not for a big accident – a Level 7 on the INES (International Nuclear Event Scale) – like the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. Where tens of thousands of people needed to be evacuated … quickly.

DNA has been working to inform local politicians about these gaps & deficiencies, & it seems to have sunk in (with some, anyway) that most people really actually have no idea what to do if a serious accident happens.

We Canadians are so polite, though, aren’t we? Polite to a fault. So polite we do not safeguard our own … safety.

We need Durham Region’s politicians to come right out & say very clearly to the Province: “Dudes. We’re right here at Ground Zero if a serious accident should happen. Doesn’t look to us like emergency plans here are very … robust. You gotta do something about this!”

Heck, even nuke agencies IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), which exists to both promote and regulate nuclear energy; yes … & ICRP (the International Commission on Radiological Protection) have clearly stated that emergency plans need to be clearly communicated to members of the public before any emergency takes place, or they will not be of much use! (Previous post goes into detail on all this.)


You need not be a rocket scientist, nor possess a Ph.D., to speak clearly & concisely to the CNSC & express your lack of support for this refurbishment/life extension/13 year licence.

Short & sweet (well, no need to actually be sweet) will do nicely. From the heart is always best!

Just note down the things that irk or concern you the most, & fire it off by midnight on Monday, September 28th. Once again, details on making a submission are right here.

Recent postings:

Please take a look through recent postings on this site for relevant, related information. Each posting lists many additional resources at the end, should you be keen to learn more.

Direction sign to Nukes
Direction sign to Nukes

<these distances from downtown Toronto>

Severe Accident Study? Oops. Not really!

** Cheater alert: even trying to explain this study (& its implications, knowing what I know about CNSC, OPG (Ontario Power Generation) and provincial nuclear emergency planning) is tedious and time-consuming. Near the end of the post there are sections called Summary & Take-Aways. You might be tempted to skip to the end section if all the ins & outs drive you up the wall. It’s hard to know quite where to begin describing this CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) “Study of Consequences of a Hypothetical Severe Nuclear Accident and Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures” report.

This severe accident study that is NOT a severe accident study. It all begins to go off the rails quite quickly.

You can find the study here. Severe Accident Study. (Request a pdf version &/or a hard copy by writing to info@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca & requesting one.) ** see note at bottom of post for new (corrected?) version of study.

I tried to make a chart, as I find that charts can be very helpful for organizing unruly thoughts or task lists … using the categories of Absurdities, Assumptions, Circular Reasoning, Contradictions, Failures to be Upfront, Lies, Manipulations, some examples of Whoa … really?? And Whhhhhhhat??? and inevitably some memorable/telling quotations … & a Summary with Take-Aways. (Topic headings not covered: unscientific “science”; misusing the phrase “conservative assumptions”; patronizing the public; & misleading topic headings, e.g. ‘How emergency plans are assured of being robust and successful’ with no content whatsoever of any applicability to the heading, etc.)

But as you can see, the sheer # of categories really got away on me. This represents my next best attempt to rassle this … “study” into some coherence. Not that the study itself can be made to be coherent; it can’t. But I need to be able to at least describe it coherently. Perhaps only semi-coherently. Let’s proceed:

Background: At a CNSC hearing on Darlington in 2012, many groups & individuals – our group, DNA, included – called on the CNSC (Canada’s federal nuclear “regulator”) to carry out a study that would dig into what would happen in the event of a serious nuclear accident at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS). Many of us were very concerned post-Fukushima disaster (which began on March 11/11, just before the Darlington new build EA hearing) that emergency planning measures were/are not sufficient to protect the public of Durham Region (& Toronto/the Greater Toronto Area) in the event of a serious accident here.

We were aware of the Joint Review Panel Recommendations from the New Build hearing in March/April 2011. Specifically Recommendation # 46 (Section 6.3):

Given that a severe accident may have consequences beyond the three & 10-kilometre zones evaluated by OPG, the Panel recommends that the Government of Ontario, on an ongoing basis, review the emergency planning zones & the emergency preparedness & response measures, as defined in the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP), to protect human health & safety.

After the Darlington 2012 hearing, the CNSC tribunal directed CNSC staff to do a study. Staff did do a study & put it out for public comment (June 2014). Many of us commented (by last August) that the study was clearly not a severe accident study.

Greenpeace found out through an Access to Information request that indeed a serious accident (Level 7 on the INES, International Nuclear Event Scale) had been studied, but that what was found was … well, a bit inconvenient to the nuclear industry, shall we just politely say, & was being said (behind closed doors) to be expected to be used “malevolently” at a hearing – so staff were asked to re-do … but with a less severe accident.

This Request for Ruling Aug.2015 explains how Greenpeace, DNA and six other groups have called on the CNSC to “release the results of the uncensored Darlington accident study by September 15th so that the public intervenors who requested this study in 2012 can consider and incorporate the study’s findings in their written submissions due on September 28th, 2015.”

Okay. To the study …

Assumptions / Absurdities

  1. Some questionable assumptions were made about cancer in the area, about a 30-year old male representing the adult population & about KI pill ingestion being 100% effective. (Annex 4, pg. 111-13 of the report.) Oh dear. Not good to start right off the top with questionable assumptions...
  2. No immediate release of radionuclides. (This is one of those cooperative, convenient kinds of "severe accident," I guess?)
  3. Emergency plans/prep/response have already kicked in. Putting the cart before the horse? (This may also qualify under Circular Reasoning; take your pick.)
  4. KI pills are already delivered/ingested out to 12 kilometres. (This really boggles the mind, since the Primary Zone only goes out to 10 K & most people in that 2 K between the pre-distribution area of 10 K & 12 K likely won’t have KI handy, & btw, you actually have to ingest it BEFORE exposure to receive 100% benefit from it. Four hours before No, I am not making that up.)
  5. People in the 3 K “contiguous zone” have already been evacuated.
  6. No evacuation beyond 12K would be necessary (this kind of gives away the fact that it’s really not a severe accident, doesn’t it? Compare to Chernobyl & Fukushima realities, with evacuations as far out as 30 K (Chernobyl) & 40 K (Japan, when the plume went northwest instead of southwest, as predicted by computer modelling).
  7. On page 9 it is explained, “The underlying goal has been defined in terms of avoiding undue public disruption, in the case of the large release of Cs-137, to avoid long-term relocation. It is a release of this magnitude that was examined in this study. The release of a greater magnitude is practically eliminated in light of the improvements emanating from the Fukushima Task Force.” (This one likely also qualifies under the categories of Whoa! Really?? "We're modelling a 'severe accident' - but one that won't really inconvenience anyone." Really?? Let’s move ahead now to circular reasoning, shall we?)

Circular Reasoning

The federal government (in the form of the CNSC) is in charge of licensing & supervising operations of the nuke plants. Off-site nuclear emergency planning is a provincial, regional & municipal responsibility (the province is overall in charge; municipalities or regional governments are in charge of carrying out evacuations).

There is this sort of eerie, circular thing going on here that I find challenging to articulate.

The feds are saying the Province is in charge of mop-up if an accident happens. That the PNERP (Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan) will look after us & help safeguard our health.

“From a risk acceptability perspective, the ability of the PNERP to effectively reduce the health risk, combined with the very low likelihood associated with severe nuclear accidents given Fukushima enhancements (i.e., such an event will be practically eliminated), allows these risks to be effectively managed to an acceptable level in alignment with international risk and radiological frameworks.” [pg. iv of “Extended executive summary”]

The report also says (on pg. 2) “Though the study results are useful in support of other initiatives, they are not meant to represent specific reactor accident scenarios, nor be part of the actions emanating from the Fukushima Action Plan or activities being undertaken by other parties (e.g., updating of nuclear emergency response plans).”

So this seems to be saying that whatever the Province gets up to with the PNERP (currently under review, behind closed doors, all indications being that there is no plan whatsoever to change the planning basis; my apologies; you may have to read the previous post to really grasp this planning basis business), this study is about this study & does not mean or intend to inform that updating of the PNERP.

Yet. I happen to know that the Province is indeed leaning on this study. In a letter to DNA from the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services in June 2015, the Minister said, & I quote “OPG and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have collaborated on developing “The Study of Consequences of a Hypothetical Severe Nuclear Accident and Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures” as a result of a Commission direction during the Environmental Assessment of the refurbishment and continued operation of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. This study, which is one of several technical studies and reviews that have been undertaken since the Fukushima emergency, is informing the PNERP planning basis review.” (Letter from Mr. Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, dated June 3, 2014.)

So CNSC says the feds are counting on the PNERP, & the Province is saying (it seems) “We don’t think the planning basis needs to be changed because the feds/OPG are studying up on what to do in the event of a serious accident.”

Isn’t there some kind of painful circular reasoning at work here?

DNA has learned from experience that this provincial nuclear emergency plan review, which we and two other groups called on the Minister for in August 2013, is taking place very much behind closed doors. Prying information out of that Ministry is a chore involving the necessity for endless FOI (Freedom of Information) requests.

Anyway. Throughout this (alleged) Severe Accident study, provincial (and regional/municipal) responsibilities are referenced. As I say, it seems a bit eerie the way the feds/nuke operators are counting on the Province to look after Ontarians if the you-know-what hits the fan. Yet the Province is counting on the feds to assist in their planning basis deliberations.

This report repeats several times that the PNERP is “flexible.” I guess this means that it will respond well in the event of even the most serious accident. But … many of us are skeptical. If you don’t really plan for a serious accident, how can you be prepared for one? (We do know from media reports & conversations/meetings with both local residents & Durham politicians that most people in the Region actually haven’t a clue about what to do in the case of a serious accident.)

More Circular Stuff:

The claim is made (Pg. 73) that Canadian nuclear power plants are safe. Now, we know they were said to be “safe” before the Fukushima accident, & before all the “Fukushima enhancements” were made (after the Fukushima accident). So they were safe, & now they are safe , & … I guess we are to believe that no accident can happen here ('though if one happens elsewhere, & this is occurring at the rate of about 1 every 10 years, I suppose more study will be done, & more enhancements might be made, and then the plants will be … safe. Again. Still?? Safer?)

Contradictions or just … things that seem a bit confusing to me

“The results of the study provide insights that are useful for the purposes of emergency planning and response. Most importantly, it informs the public and other stakeholders of the possible consequences of a hypothetical severe nuclear accident, the effectiveness of emergency planning, and the inherent safety of Canadian nuclear power plants.” [pg. 1]

“Though the study results are useful in support of other initiatives, they are not meant to represent specific reactor accident scenarios, nor be part of the actions emanating from the Fukushima Action Plan or activities being undertaken by other parties (e.g., updating of nuclear emergency response plans).” [pg. 2; emphasis mine]

“As such, the study is of a theoretical nature, and uses hypothetical severe accident scenarios with a number of conservative assumptions. It is not meant to reflect the state of readiness of Canadian nuclear power plants, its operators or responsible jurisdictions when it comes to addressing the potential for accidents or their consequences.” [pg. 19]

Oh dear. I’m getting a bit dizzy here.

“Emergency planning is inherently flexible and consideration of sensitive receptors such as children in emergency planning is an integral part of federal and provincial emergency decision making. In the event of an actual accident with this level of predicted risk, decision makers could further mitigate the risk in those areas most likely to be affected through the administration of KI pills or by evacuation. [pg. iii in “Extended executive summary.”] The weirdness of this will become apparent in the Summary/Take-Away sections. When it is revealed that what really seems to be the plan, if a serious accident happens, is to have the Province tell everyone to “shelter in place.” I.e,. stay in your house with the windows & doors closed, people (use some tape maybe, eh?).

 “Canadian nuclear power plants are safe. Following the Fukushima accident, the CNSC Task Force recommendations further strengthened each layer of defence built into the Canadian nuclear power plant design and licensing philosophy to ensure that the likelihood of accidents with serious radiological consequences is extremely low, with an emphasis on severe accidents. In this study, had all of the plant-specific design features, operator actions and other Task Force recommendations been fully credited/realized, the likelihood of a severe accident would have been lowered and the release of radioactive material considered would have been significantly reduced. It means that a severe accident would be extremely unlikely to arise or practically eliminated.” [pg. 73]

Communications: Being Upfront

Now, this comes up a lot! Repeatedly, actually.

“Psychosocial effects would be anticipated for all scenarios and could include fear of radiation exposure, anxiety, and stress. Clear, credible and regular communication from responsible parties before, during and after the emergency would help to minimize these effects. In addition, these effects would be expected to decline rapidly once the affected population returns to their normal life patterns. For non-human biota, like birds and mammals, no acute effects would be expected.” [iii of “Extended executive summary.” Italics mine]

 (Return to normal life patterns after a serious nuclear accident; really??)

“The CNSC Integrated Action Plan applies to all operating nuclear facilities and the CNSC. The areas for continuous improvement that emerged from the Plan are:

  • strengthening defence in depth
  • enhancing emergency response
  • improving regulatory framework and processes
  • enhancing international collaboration
  • enhancing communications and public education[Pg.9; emphasis mine]

“Dissemination of information and raising awareness regarding emergency planning through various means by those organizations with emergency planning responsibilities is done on an ongoing basis. In the event of an actual incident, effective, coordinated communication amongst responsible organizations is essential before, during and after the actual incident.” [pg. 32, emphasis mine]

"Ineffective communication and/or coordination of measures to protect the populations at risk will have a similar consequence. These effects are likely to extend to residents in the Secondary Zone [listen up, Torontonians!], who are likely to be less familiar with the plant and associated emergency plans, if they feel they are not receiving the information or assistance they need in a timely way. [pg. 67, in section 6.4 on Psychosocial effects; quite interesting!; emphasis mine]

“Clear, credible and regular communication from responsible parties before, during and after the emergency would help to minimize these effects as would transparent decisions (e.g., based on health-based limits and other factors) for the return of residents to their homes and daily lives.” [pg. 67]

 ** I am pretty sure the citizens of Durham Region/Toronto will be very happy to hear CNSC being so encouraging of wide-open communications. Because in Durham Region, citizens received an emergency brochure in Fall 2012 in which the word “nuclear” was not even mentioned! [AreYouReady] Durham Region residents do not feel they are being openly communicated with. Because they are not. Being openly communicated with. Just saying.  

In DNA we’re aware that this sentiment is also expressed at the international nuclear agency level. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has stated in their Publication “Lessons Learned from the Response to Radiation Emergencies (1945 – 2010),” (IAEA, August 2012) a comment in the chapter “providing information and issuing instructions and warnings to the public,” about the importance of providing information to the public on protective actions to be taken in event of an emergency in advance of any emergency for threats such as Nuclear Power Plants. They state “This will engender confidence – the knowledge that the officials have their interest at heart – and, by doing so, improve compliance with protective action recommendations in the event of a real emergency. In addition, there will be a better understanding of the systems used to warn them of an emergency.” [emphasis mine]

The ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) backs up this IAEA advice; note their comment in ICRP Publication 109, which recommends engagement with stakeholders and discussions of the plans, including with members of the public. The rationale is that “Otherwise, it will be difficult to implement the plan effectively during the response. The overall protection strategy and its constituent individual protective measures should have been worked through with all those potentially exposed or affected, so that time and resources do not need to be expended during the emergency exposure situation itself in persuading people that this is the optimum response.” (at 42; again, emphasis mine.)

Seems like the big nuclear agencies are really big on open communication lines. Well, talking about them, anyway.

** Now we just have to make sure that OFMEM (Office of the Fire Marshall & Emergency Management in the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services) and DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office) personnel get the memo!

We need to get that review of provincial nuclear emergency plans out from behind those (very) closed doors.


The severity of the impacts of the Chernobyl & Fukushima disasters is not only minimized throughout this report, I have to state categorically that there are outright lies about health impacts from these two INES Level 7 nuclear disasters.

I suggest readers check the claims made on pg. 65 of the study (link at top of post). These can be immediately identified as pure nonsense.

Simply outrageous. Please refer to past posts on this blog about Chernobyl and Fukushima (which contain many useful links). Health effects go far beyond merely thyroid cancer, ‘though we have learned that the thyroid cancers suffered by the children of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were numerous as well as aggressive. (The CNSC study conveniently mentions the country where KI was pre-distributed, and leaves out the ones where it was not!)

Please also note that even for this non-severe accident study, with all the KI & evacuations conveniently being done before the study kicks in, & all of the assumptions being “conservative,” child thyroid cancer is projected to go up.

“Although the results of this study indicate what appears to be a large increase in the risk of incidence of thyroid cancer in children, this would not equate to a large increase in the actual number of thyroid cancers. With rare cancers any additional risk appears to be a large increase above the baseline.” [pg. 60] Two comments: # 1. I can’t make sense out of that. # 2. I call it minimization.

Report Conclusions (from the Executive Summary, pg iii)

QUOTE Emergency planning is inherently flexible and consideration of sensitive receptors such as children in emergency planning is an integral part of federal and provincial emergency decision making. In the event of an actual accident with this level of predicted risk, decision makers could further mitigate the risk in those areas most likely to be affected through the administration of KI pills or by evacuation. [emphasis mine]

In summary, this study has responded to the Commission’s request to evaluate the human health and environmental consequences due to radiation exposure from a severe nuclear accident. The study is of a theoretical nature, using hypothetical severe accident scenarios. Overall, while conclusions point to a non-detectable increased health risk for most of the population, the theoretical increased childhood thyroid cancer risk findings in relatively close proximity to the DNGS further strengthens the continued importance of considering sensitive receptors (i.e., children) in emergency planning, such as KI pill administration.

From a risk acceptability perspective, the ability of the PNERP to effectively reduce the health risk, combined with the very low likelihood associated with severe nuclear accidents given Fukushima enhancements (i.e., such an event will be practically eliminated), allows these risks to be effectively managed to an acceptable level in alignment with international risk and radiological frameworks. END QUOTE from study; all underlining is mine.


  1. The study seems to be telling us that all will be well. "It can’t happen here.” The plants are safe & we can rely on the provincial nuclear emergency response plan to protect our health if a serious accident happens (the response to the nuclear accident will protect us; we need not worry about what the plant spews into the air & the water. Hmmmm; does this make sense to you??)
  2. The study is characterized by circular reasoning, faulty logic, contradictory claims & in some cases, outright lies (there are even things I’ve left out because this posting would go on forever. Please read it for yourself & see).
  3. But! Open communications about emergency plans are roundly encouraged & emphasized over & over & over again.
  4. It still seems eerie the way this circular thing is going on with CNSC relying on the Province, knowing that the Province seems to be relying on the CNSC, and knowing what I know about how the Nuclear Emergency Management Coordinating Committee (NEMCC) operates; namely, behind very closed doors (no minutes provided, even if one has attended one of these meetings, as an NGO person, by invitation) & with heavy attendance from all levels of the nuclear industry itself. Too many fingers in that messy pie (all listed here) to leave me with any confidence in the ability of emergency response to proceed seamlessly if the you-know-what hits the fan (so many cracks for things to fall between, it is almost literally dizzying).
  5. Even this study seems to acknowledge that KI pre-distribution will not protect us from a serious accident (not that a serious accident is what was being studied or reported on; it isn’t). *** see Accidents Scenario Table-Greenpeace
  6. The CNSC has tons of faith in the PNERP (Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan) to look after us all in the case of a nuclear accident. In fact, it almost seems to suggest that the emergency plan itself will keep us safe & healthy! Which really doesn't make any sense at all, & seems more than just a little bassackward, but then … whatever. (I think I am repeating myself here. Sorry. This just really boggles my mind).
  7. “It can’t happen here” is still very much the mantra of the nuclear industry (previous post  explains the history of this assumption, as well as the issue of the planning basis that nuclear emergency plans are … planned around).
  8. Evacuations are messy & potentially dangerous, you see (so this report points out on pg. 69) so the Province might well just suggest that everyone kind of uh, you know, sit tight in their houses if one of the plants blows. They call this “sheltering in place.” My take on this study is that the odds are good if push comes to shove, we’ll all be advised to tape up windows & doors & hunker down & sit it out. This flies in the face of those big international nuclear agencies (IAEA & ICRP) that have pointed out that most North American homes are not suitable for sheltering in. IAEA Guide GS-G-2.1 points out “typical European and North American homes and their basements may not provide adequate protection.” ICRP Publication 109 states that buildings constructed of wood or metal (as opposed to solidly constructed buildings) are “not generally suitable for use as protective shelters against external radiation, and buildings that cannot be made substantially airtight are not effective in protecting against any exposures.”


  1. The nuclear industry pays considerable lip service to the need to communicate openly & ahead of time. Then they throw the ball to provincial “authorities” to do the mop-up & decide on whether to evacuate people or let them rot in their houses.
  2. Good lip service about protecting children – but again, toss the football to the provincial authorities to actually do this.
  3. It may not be a very good idea to place our trust in the “authorities” to “look after us” if a serious nuclear accident occurs. But then, I doubt you'll be surprised to hear me say this after all of the above.
  4. While the nuclear industry pays excellent lip service to the notion of communicating openly, I am very skeptical about these claims. But let’s the rest of us communicate openly, shall we? Let’s speak up!
  5. Reports like this one from the nuclear industry are time-consuming & headache-inducing to spend time on – but you know what? They are NOT rocket science, & anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence is quite capable of reading & making sense of them. No, I’m not saying they're enjoyable; they make my head hurt. But I can read between the lines, & we all need to be able to do that … don’t we?
  6. And then, speak up. (see # 4)

1 more thing: get this!

I read the Fukushima – the story of a nuclear disaster book again this summer.

Mind-blower of a book, that’s the truth (posting about it here).

Guess what TEPCO (the utility that owns/runs the Fukushima plant & believe it or not, is doing fine financially even though the costs of the accident are probably in the process of bankrupting the country?) said at one point?

They blamed the nuclear regulator for not regulating them!

I think we ought to keep this in mind here. Our “regulator” here is not really regulating either. And our provincial authorities seem to be fine with this. This could lead to some catastrophic results.

Which maybe they will blame on us, for not paying close enough attention; who knows?

Collusion among nuclear industry/regulators/government departments is not only a Japanese phenomenon; not at all. It is a global problem, & frankly, it is in evidence right here in Durham Region / Ontario / Canada.

So sorry to be the bearer of uncomfortable news, dear Reader. They do say the truth will set us free.


Recent Relevant Postings on this Site


** a message from the CNSC on Sept. 21/15 reads: "Further to the August 2015 version of the study that was made available on request, the CNSC has corrected figures in tables A1.1 and A1.2. These changes do not impact the conclusions of the report." Severe Accident Study-Sept'15

It can’t happen here! / Severe Accident Study? / It’s the Planning Basis, Stupid!

“It can’t happen here.” This is what the nuclear industry would have us believe.

A serious nuclear accident (a Level 7 on the INES – International Nuclear Event Scale – like Chernobyl & Fukushima) “can’t happen here.”

This (false) belief is why the “authorities” refuse to actually plan for a serious accident.

If they planned for “The Big One,” they’d have to change the “planning basis” around which Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans are made. & then “beef up” plans for a serious accident. This would cost the nuclear industry (& our government?) money. They seem to be agreed that they don’t want to do this. Yes. It does appear as though the folks who “protect” us really apparently have little desire to do so.

** A recommendation went to the Ontario Cabinet calling for a change in the planning basis, btw, way back in 1993. 22 years ago. The Chernobyl accident had happened in 1986. So the Cabinet had this studied & it was recommended to them that the planning basis be changed to deal with a more serious nuclear accident. But … it never happened. See Planning Basis Change – pages 84-100.

Who is Responsible for What?

The federal government is responsible for licensing nuclear plants (all nuclear facilities). The government agency in charge is the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

CNSC holds public hearings to review licence applications for matters such as the Bruce Power generating station, Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s requests for licences for the Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations, the Chalk River facility (& many others too numerous to name: uranium mines, nuclear research facilities in university locations, etc. etc.).

Problem is, the CNSC grants licences quite as though it were a Coke machine dispensing bottles of Coke. Pop in your change, out pops a Coke. Pop in your licence request, out pops a licence. I say this advisedly, btw, being a CNSC watcher for almost ten years now.

Read How Harper turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog’ to understand this better.

Off-site Emergency Planning

This is a provincial responsibility.

So the feds license the plants, and the Province is in charge of the “off-site” emergency plans. In other words, the nuke industry will mind its own facilities, but beyond the site boundary – beyond that metal fence – it is our provincial (& regional) governments that will pick up the pieces (e.g. carry out evacuations).

Actually, to be more accurate, a literally dizzying # of government ministries, departments, agencies and municipalities have a finger in the nuclear emergency pie. (See list in posting here.) Exactly the right # to pretty much guarantee that if an accident happens, so many things will fall between the cracks that emergency response will be slow, inefficient & utterly inadequate (as was the case in Japan, where the "chain of command" broke down, KI pills were not distributed, people died during evacuation, some people were sent in exactly the direction the radiation plume was heading, & some were not evacuated until more than a month after they should have been).

And, I almost forgot to mention, our provincial government (specifically, OFMEM or the Office of the Fire Marshall & Emergency Management under the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services) seems to have no plan or desire whatsoever to change the planning basis. If you want to find out what they are up to there, you have to pry the secrets out of them using Freedom of Information requests. A discerning listener could tell by what OFMEM's Mr. Suleman said at the Bruce hearing on April 16th, 2015 that they have no intention of changing the planning basis. (April 16th transcript is linked here; relevant remarks by Mr. Suleman on pages 41 & 45 in particular & also 51, 84, 265. Relevant comment about responsibility for evacuation being municipal, by Mr. Nodwell on page 266).

But It Can’t Happen Here … right?

This is the line nuclear regulators have been using ever since the early 1980s, right after the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident (much TMI info here. Please note that the site creator, Arnie Gundersen, worked for the nuclear industry himself at that time).

It can’t happen here. It's virtually a nuclear industry/regulator mantra. They said it post-TMI, & they said it post-Chernobyl, & they said it post-Fukushima. And they are still saying it … but why in heaven’s name is anyone still listening??

In the U.S., the federal nuclear regulator (Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC) sat on a study post-TMI that provided inconvenient results as to the likely costs of a nuclear accident there.

As is very thoroughly explained in the book Fukushima – the story of a nuclear disaster, the NRC basically adopted the position “the chances of an accident severe enough to produce such death and destruction were so slight as to be hardly worth mentioning.”

So the sweeping under the carpet of facts inconvenient to the nuclear industry (& its so-called regulator, please note) began long ago.

Early 1980’s.

In Canada, we see, the sweeping began post-Chernobyl when the Ontario Cabinet’s recommendation (after having sent a committee off to study it) to change the planning basis was somehow mysteriously swept under the carpet, & disappeared into the sunset.

The Cabinet called to have the planning basis changed – in 1993. Post-Chernobyl, long pre-Fukushima. 22 years ago. It never happened. It’s not happening now, either. The nuclear industry has very long arms, & they can make things happen. Most especially, they can make things (a lot of things) NOT happen, also.

Inconvenient Truths: then & now

The only way to keep everybody quiet (if not necessarily “happy”), it seems, is to go on with this charade of “It can’t happen here.”

So the U.S. regulator, & the Japanese regulators (almost dizzying the # of agencies with fingers in the regulatory pie over there, but the Fukushima book explains how the regulator(s) there took its/their cues from the U.S. NRC) & unfortunately, the Canadian “regulator,” have been preaching “It can’t happen here” ever since the 1980s.

But not only in the U.S. & Japan (& Canada). Global problem.

The inconvenient truth of the potential for a nuclear accident ANYwhere there is a nuclear facility is so … inconvenient, it takes really a lot of noise to wake up all the sleeping souls who are busy denying the possibility.

You have to make really a lot of noise before anyone with any power or influence pays attention!

What about Durham Region?

Post-Fukushima accident (that plant is still a radiation-spewing machine, btw, & will be for a very-very long time; very nasty recent events), a skeptical GTA (Greater Toronto Area) public demanded at the 2012 Darlington hearing that our federal “regulator” – the CNSC – study the potential impacts of a severe nuclear accident.

The CNSC tribunal ordered CNSC staff to do such a study.

“Inconvenient” results were encountered (same way it had happened in the U.S. post-TMI, right?).

So CNSC senior staff caused the study to disappear, & a less-serious accident study was conducted instead. All this uncovered by Greenpeace Access to Information digging.

Read Request for Ruling Aug.2015

Déjà vu already … hmmm??

Who(m) You Gonna Trust?

Well. Seems like we can’t really trust the nuclear industry (take a gander at this list of nuclear accidents since the 1940s, eh?).

& we can’t trust the regulatory agencies (see above).

The so-called “science” of nuclear “regulators,” among other things, is very very suspect indeed. I recall hearing senior CNSC staffer Dr. Greg Rzentkowski, when asked by the CNSC tribunal head at the Pickering Hold Point hearing (May 2014), about the safety of CANDU reactors & likelihood of an accident, reply “… we can say the risk is zero, because there was never a significant accident in the CANDU fleet.” (Pg. 132 of the Pickering Hold Point transcript - & a pretty interesting exchange it is, too!)

Whoa. Really? That’s how risk analysis works?? Zero probability of event in the future ... ‘cos it hasn’t happened yet??

Not too sure anyone really wants to take that assurance to the bank! (Or to their insurance agency, but anyway you are not insured against a nuclear accident, dear Reader. Nope. You are definitely, definitely not. Don’t take my word for it; ask your agent!)

So It CAN Happen Here!

If you live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), this matters.

It matters because an awful lot of us are living in the Secondary Zone (50 K around the two plants). Pretty sure I live in the Secondary Zone of both plants, actually, though I live in Toronto's east end.

What we know from the Chernobyl & Fukushima disasters (accident is really too mild a word) is that evacuations took place to considerable distances. Chernobyl still has a 30K exclusion zone around it, 29 years later. In Japan, American service people were ordered evacuated out to 50 miles (not kilometres), & the citizens of Iitate (25 miles/40 kilometres away) were very belatedly evacuated on April 22nd, having been left for over a month right in the place where the radioactive plume was going – but that information was ignored because it was … inconvenient. Some people had to relocate six times or more. I wish I was making this up. (1000s or 10s of 1000s are still out of their homes & the Japanese government is trying to make people return to areas of too-high radioactivity. You didn't think this 4 1/2 year old crisis was over, did you??)

We are not ready for a Level 7 accident here. If anyone tells you we are, s/he is not telling you the truth. S/he may be deluded, s/he may be confused. But to say we are prepared for a serious nuclear accident is not the truth.

Just think how quickly Lake Ontario, source of drinking water for millions could become undrinkable. Sobering.

What to Do? What to Do?

  • Attend the DNA event on September 17th DNA Sept. 17 event
  • Attend the September 23rd event in Toronto.
  • Become informed. Do some reading. The DNA site has many useful postings (see list below), & each one contains useful links to yet more information.
  • Become a volunteer for Greenpeace or Durham Nuclear Awareness.
  • Check this out! Go to this site to find out how many would need to be evacuated if a serious accident happened at Pickering or Darlington (scroll down on the list for our local reactors).
  • Consider taking part in the CNSC hearing scheduled for Nov. 2-5. Details here.
  • Consider talking to your local politician(s) – whether you live in Durham Region or Toronto. Quite likely s/he/they don’t understand the planning basis issue, or that the Severe Accident Study is a sham (see previous post for useful links re: this study).
  • Ask yourself this: if a serious nuclear accident happens, do you know what to do? Where to go? How to reunite with your family members if they are evacuated when you're not with them? Where evacuation centres will be located? This article clearly indicated that people in Pickering & Clarington are ill-prepared for a nuclear accident. We need to get "the authorities" to prepare better, & then tell us all about the careful plans they have made ... don't you think?


Recent, Relevant Postings on this Site

Darlington / DNA Event / Severe Accident Study (Not)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is asking for a 13-year licence to refurbish (i.e., rebuild) the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station's 4 aging reactors. The Darlington licensing hearing is coming up the first week of November. Hearing details from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) here.

Deadline for submissions = September 28th.

** More to come soon on why 13 year licence is a bad idea.

Learn more about this hearing & its implications for everyone in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) at DNA's upcoming Sept. 17th event in Oshawa.

Thursday, Sept. 17th, 7 - 9 pm Room 106 Trent University's Oshawa Campus (55 Thornton Road South)


A panel of experts will discuss nuclear safety, emergency planning & environmental impacts to Lake Ontario in preparation for the November hearing on the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station refurbishment.

Expert Panel:

  • Mark Mattson, President, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
  • Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director & Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
  • Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Nuclear Analyst, Greenpeace

DNA Sept. 17 event poster.

The Severe Accident Study (not)

You can read the Severe Accident Study. (if you want CNSC to mail you a hard copy, write to info@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca & ask for one.)

My time is a bit limited at the moment, so for now I'll simply provide some key links you can use to find out more information about this "severe accident study" ... that is really not a severe accident study at all:

How Harper turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog

Darlington: It’s Not Worth the Risk

More Related Information:

Direction sign to Nukes
Direction sign to Nukes

<< these distances measured from downtown Toronto>>

Nuclear Refurbishment: Did You Know?

What you may not know about nuclear refurbishment: Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is requesting an unprecedented 13-year license for the continued operation and “refurbishment” of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. In the past, licenses OPG has received have always been for 2-5 years, maximum. This request will come before a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing in early November of this year.

Unfortunately, it seems most people know very little about the nuclear industry & how it actually operates. The technology involved is complex, to be sure. However, one requires neither a detailed understanding of nuclear reactor technology, nor a degree in rocket science, to understand these basics:

  • Nuclear energy is fraught with potential dangers, & accidents are possible at any nuclear facility
  • Accidents result in catastrophic widespread, long-lived consequences to human beings & everything else that constitute what we've come to call “the environment”
  • Nuclear waste is unimaginably toxic & so extraordinarily long-lived we cannot even properly get our minds around the time frames involved.

This posting will provide readers with a few facts about refurbishments that they simply might not otherwise hear about.

Refurbishment is a nice, innocuous-sounding word ... but what it actually means is, re-build. The 4 Darlington reactors have reached the end of their intended shelf life, & now their operators (a very large number of people paid very large salaries indeed) want to rebuild them. They could also be decommissioned, i.e., shut down, instead; that too is an option.

The estimated cost of the Darlington rebuild is somewhere between $8 & $14 billion, according to not-yet-final figures projected by OPG. This massive and wildly expensive rebuild project is anticipated to take part over many years. At public expense.

BUT … every nuclear project in Ontario has gone over-budget (and past projected deadlines). According to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance all past nuclear projects have gone over budget by 2 ½ times. In this case, then, the eventual cost could reach $32 billion. Taxpayers’ money.

Nuclear refurbishments create a lot of NEW nuclear waste. Unfortunately, after 70 years of nuclear waste creation, no safe solution has yet been found for the storage of these 70 years’ worth of nuclear wastes. The (now former) head of OPG (the $1.8 million/year Tom Mitchell), said at a nuclear waste industry conference in September 2011, The amount of nuclear waste in the world is expected to grow due to refurbishments, new build activity and the decommissioning of reactors.” Mr. Mitchell referred to the handling of nuclear waste as a “values-based activity” (a rather subtle way of saying there is plenty of money to be made from it). * Plenty of information about the waste issue here.

In 2009, during refurbishment work at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, hundreds of workers were exposed to plutonium-laden dust. No satisfactory explanation has ever been given as to why this was not prevented, or why the workers had not been provided with respirators. When asked at a Joint Review Panel hearing on the proposed DGR (DNA’s 2013 presentation can be found here) CNSC staff scientist Patsy Thompson said “Bruce Power has a healthy safety culture for the following reasons: the alpha-event was unforeseen for reasons that I don’t have right now; there was no evidence that there was a potential for this event, so it’s not something that Bruce Power or its employees decided to ignore;” [transcript, pg 159]

This is an … explanation??

In Québec, when it was learned how costly the refurbishment of the Gentilly-2 reactor was going to be, the plant was ordered by the Québec government to be shut down. Hydro-Québec’s François Bilodeau had admitted at a nuclear industry ‘Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration for Canada’s Nuclear Activities’ conference held in Toronto in September 2011 that the refurbishment was expected to create 5 times as much nuclear waste as already existed at the facility.

While so self-evident as to surely not even really need stating, there is no plan in place for the additional wastes that will be created if this refurbishment proceeds (or for the 70 years’ worth of waste already in existence & also lacking anywhere to be safely & reliably secured and stored). The Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations are already host to a grand total of 1,112,860 used fuel bundles (Pickering has 667,639: 406,315 “wet” & 261,324 “dry” – or did as of June 30, 2013); & Darlington has (or rather had, as of June 30/13) 445,221 (338,510 wet; 106,711 dry). You can locate these figures in this NWMO document (in a table on pg. 3). All dressed up, as it were, & just ... absolutely no place to go.

So, in Quebec the refurbishment costs & waste quantities led to an end to nuclear power in that province, while in New Brunswick, greater-than-anticipated quantities of refurbishment-created nuclear wastes at Point Lepreau led to the shipping of some to Tennessee, where it was to be incinerated … & the ash later returned to Canada.

** I learned these facts while attending a nuclear industry conference on ‘Waste Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration for Canada’s Nuclear Activities’ held in Toronto from September 11-14, 2011. Learned lots at this conference!

From the final program provided to attendees (on pg. 25), “In short, Point Lepreau GS [Generating Station] has been challenged during the outage due to the amount of low and intermediate level waste that has been generated compared to that which was expected, which has driven the need to develop a new waste management strategy in the middle of the outage. The paper [New Brunswick Power Nuclear’s Charles Hickman was to present] presents an overview of pre-outage waste handling, what process changes and schedule changes occurred during the outage, and provides a discussion of the operational and financial consequences of those changes. Key issues highlighted the paper include for adequate provision of waste management facilities during large outages, the importance of ensuring that contractors have a stake in waste minimization activities, and long term waste management implications that need to be considered for large outages.” (Conference program)

Nuclear waste is a very, very serious problem (& that is a very serious understatement!) - one to which there is as yet no solution anywhere in sight. Not here, not "there," not anywhere on the planet!

To many people, it seems like a really good idea (& time) to stop creating any more of it.

At the very least, speaking up about the lack of wisdom of granting OPG a 13-year license for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station seems a highly advisable course of action. More to come on this topic soon.

More Information:


Relevant Quote:

“While we may learn from the past, we don’t seem to learn much.” – Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress

* more relevant quotes on this page


Environment groups urge release of disaster scenarios report

** watch the 14-minute news conference here!

Environmental groups urge release of nuclear disaster scenarios report

The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, August 19, 2015 10:29AM EDT

OTTAWA - Environmental groups are urging the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to release a study on nuclear disaster scenarios that they say was suppressed.

The commission released a study last year looking at health and environmental consequences of accident scenarios, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, but the groups say it wasn't released in full.

Greenpeace, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and other environmental organizations say emails obtained through access to information requests show management at the nuclear commission censored the original draft.

Related Stories

Canadian nuclear power plants completing upgrades prompted by Fukushima They say the original study analyzed the impacts of a Fukushima-scale accident at the Darlington nuclear plant, 70 kilometres east of Toronto, but that wasn't included in the version released to the public.

The groups cite an email from the director of the Darlington regulatory program division that says it would become a "focal point of any licence renewal" and would be used "malevolently" in a public hearing.

The nuclear commission is holding a hearing today in Ottawa on Ontario Power Generation's application to extend the operating life of four aging Darlington reactors and the environmental groups want the Fukushima-scale analysis released before public submissions are due next month.


News Release

Aug 19 2015

(Ottawa) ‐ Environment groups are asking the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) today to release a suppressed study detailing the weaknesses of offsite emergency response at the Darlington nuclear station in the event of a Fukushima‐scale accident.

“The CNSC has betrayed the public trust by concealing a study revealing risks to Toronto. The study should be released so these hazards can be addressed transparently and appropriate emergency plans put in place,” said Shawn‐Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace.

The CNSC is holding a hearing today in Ottawa on Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) application to extend the operating life of the four aging Darlington reactors 60 km east of downtown Toronto. The procedural request asks for the suppressed accident study to be released by next month so its findings can be used in public submissions to the second round of public hearings scheduled for November.

“Following the Fukushima disaster citizens asked the Commission to assess whether emergency response in the Toronto could cope with a major accident at Darlington. It is alarming the CNSC would withhold objective information on the public safety risks,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

In 2014, the CNSC did release an accident study and claimed it responded to public concern. But according to Access to Information, the public study is profoundly different from the original draft censored by CNSC management. The censored study analyzed the impacts of a Fukushima‐scale accident at Darlington, but when apprised of the results, senior management instructed staff to redraft the study to consider a much smaller accident.

“This is yet another example of how CNSC isn’t accountable to Canadians or objective on nuclear risks. It is past time for the next government to clean up the CNSC by insisting that they put the public interest above that of the nuclear industry,” said Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR).

The groups that filed the request include CELA, CCNR, Durham Nuclear Awareness, Greenpeace, New Clear Free Solutions, Northwatch, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and Sierra Club Canada.

‐ 30 ‐


Mary Ambrose, Communications Officer, Greenpeace, 416‐930‐9055 Dr. Gordon Edwards, President, CCNR, 514‐839‐7214 Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, CELA, 416‐662‐8341 (cell) Shawn‐Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst, Greenpeace, 416 884 7053 [Eng/Fr]


Related Blog Posts


Fukushima: What Really Happened?

A detailed account of what took place at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant beginning on March 11, 2011 is provided in the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists (The New Press, 2014). On the Union of Concerned Scientists' Web site there is a detailed description of what the book covers.

You'll find reviews of the book here and here. (Of course, if you do a search on the book’s title, you’ll encounter more than just these two.)

The book is pretty well-indexed, so readers can look up words/phrases such as “beyond design basis” or “sea wall” or “potassium iodide” or “complacency and overconfidence” & find all the pages on which the particular topic is mentioned. There is also a glossary of terms.

As the list below indicates, the book goes into much detail about earthquake & tsunami research (both what was known & what was ignored), how the Japanese nuclear regulator operates, how TEPCO (owner/operator of the reactors at Fukushima) operated in the years before the disaster & then during the early days of the disaster, how the media in Japan operate, how emergency planning broke down, etc. etc.

Covered very thoroughly indeed, toward the end of the book, is how the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) operates – which, as it happens, has a major bearing on how the Japanese regulator operates.

Much of what this book reveals is enough to cause nightmares, or at the very least, some lost sleep – especially if you live in the neighbourhood of an aging nuclear reactor –  or 10, as we do here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

A list of important things covered in the book:

  • Emergency exercises are good mostly for PR purposes
  • Emergency plans fell apart badly in Japan
  • "Defense in depth" is not something that can be relied upon
  • How information about genuine risks (earthquakes, tsunamis) is swept under the carpet
  • "It can't happen here" has basically been the nuclear industry/nuclear regulators' mantra ever since the Three Mile Island accident (March 1979)
  • Regulatory agencies cannot be counted on to regulate
  • Risk analysis is not a real science & is essentially meaningless
Direction sign to Nukes
Direction sign to Nukes

Topics the book covers

  • Information about Japan’s history of earthquakes & tsunamis & technology related to predicting/preparing for them
  • A day-by-day accounting of the accident’s progression in the early days: quite detailed & technical
  • Explanation of what is meant by “design basis” & design-basis accidents
  • U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) involvement, including specifics about NRC head Gregory Jaczko (including his 2012 resignation)
  • Related information about U.S. reactors of similar design (General Electric boiling water reactors or BWRs)
  • Corruption at TEPCO
  • Collusion between nuclear industry & government
  • Manipulation of public opinion to favour nuclear energy
  • Revolving door between regulator & nuclear industry
  • Infrequency of inspections by the regulator (NISA)
  • Falsified reports, repairs that were not made, employees fired for reporting problems (** hair-raising information in Chapter 2)
  • Reliance on computer modelling vs. actual reality (i.e., ignoring evidence of possible tsunami if computer model says it is unlikely)
  • Communication manipulation (& “bungled communication”) during early days of crisis (Chapter 3) – among TEPCO officials, between various groups, to the public
  • No monitoring of quantity of radioactivity being released (Ch. 3)
  • “Lackadaisical attitude” toward robustness of spent fuel pools (Ch. 3)
  • Description of the lamentably poorly-thought-out care of spent fuel storage
  • Dangerousness of crowded fuel pools at U.S. reactors
  • Evacuation of U.S. citizens within 50-mile radius
  • Safety of dry cask storage at site during earthquake & tsunami (pg. 83)
  • “Sluggish” response of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (p.105)
  • Media coverage: choppy, contrast between the foreign & the domestic (Ch. 5) which gave TEPCO a “free ride” (p. 107)
  • Explanation of Japanese “press clubs” (p. 110)
  • Bungled gov’t handling of radiation exposure/health risks (p. 108)
  • Public’s loss of trust in government due to not being told the truth (p. 111)
  • U.S. & its 31 boiling water reactors – questions about U.S. safety with respect to earthquake risks
  • Evacuees’ situation (some “forced to relocate 6 times or more”) – pg. 117
  • Futaba Hospital: bungled evacuation. Patients who died (pg. 118)
  • Iitate: symbol of breakdown of gov’t response (25 miles /40 km from plant. Gaps/failures in emergency planning: zones arbitrary, evacuations far beyond 10K necessary, people evacuated in direction plume was going, hospital patients abandoned & then died. Etc. Failure to trust data saying plume going that way. Early awareness of it being a “hot spot” – yet a long delay in evacuation) (pg. 118, Ch. 5)
  • Three Mile Island: March 1979: lessons NOT learned – Davis-Besse 1977 incident (Ch. 7)
  • 2011 incidents at 2 U.S. nuke plants (Fort Calhoun-flooding & North Anna-earthquake)
  • Value (or not) of biennial emergency exercises – pg. 154 (Ch. 7)
  • Nearly 160,000 evacuees (pg. 157, Ch. 8)
  • Fallout contamination (pg 159, Ch. 8)
  • Anti-nuclear protests at prime minister’s office in Tokyo (pg. 163, Ch. 8)
  • NRC safety measures discussions (pg. 167, Ch. 8)
  • Japan’s PM goes anti-nuclear (pg. 171, Ch. 8)
  • More NRC safety discussions
  • TEPCO bailouts
  • Gregory Jaczko's resignation (Pg. 177, Ch. 8); Allison Macfarlane replaces him
  • “It can’t happen here” myth at the NRC (Chapter 9)
  • Inadequacy of reliance on “design-basis” accidents/rules (pg. 188, Ch. 9)
  • The problems with risk analysis & “probabilistic risk assessment” (PRA) – pg. 192
  • The issues with GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors (pg. 195, Ch. 9)
  • U.S. loose rules emulated by Japanese regulator (pg. 202, end of Ch. 9)
  • NRC manipulations to present nuclear as safe; unbelievable! (Ch. 10)
  • The SOARCA (State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses fiasco): “Science” manipulated, obfuscated; this must be read to be believed! (Ch. 10)
  • Proposed nuclear re-start in Japan & associated citizen protest (Ch. 11)
  • Back to business as usual at the NRC (Ch. 11)
  • Re-org of Japanese regulator (pg. 240, Ch. 11)
  • Great map of evacuation zones illustrating the lack of “neatness” of where fallout goes, & where evacuations are necessary (pg. 242, Ch. 11)
  • Political scene in Japan – Abe re-elected (pg. 243, Ch. 11)
  • Finger-pointing after the accident, including TEPCO blaming first Mother Nature, then the regulator for not being strict enough (pg. 244, Ch. 12)
  • “It can’t happen here” mindset, both in Japan – & the U.S. (pg. 247)
  • Casual attitude of politicians in U.S. (pg. 247)
  • Fires at U.S. reactor, new regs, regulations NOT enforced (pg. 247-8, Ch. 12)
  • Other examples of problems at U.S. reactors (pg. 249)
  • Defense-in-depth both “a blessing and a curse” (pg. 250); its strengths & limitations
  • Problems with evacuation in Fukushima situation (pg. 251)
  • Various things that were not planned for in emergency planning (pg. 251)
  • NRC’s 2011 NTTF (near-term task force, immediately post-Fukushima) & how NRC task force recommendations for change in U.S. regulation came to naught (pg. 252-3)
  • NRC refusal to address beyond-design-basis accidents (pg. 252-3)
  • Industry’s FLEX (“diverse and flexible mitigation”) strategy: how this prevented necessary changes at the NRC & avoids dealing with stubborn risks/issues (255-6)
  • NRC’s continued defense of 10-mile planning zones in spite of lessons from the experience proving inadequacy of this approach (pg. 256, Ch. 12)
  • NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service) proposal re: U.S. planning zones for emergency measures, i.e. evacuation, potassium iodide (pg. 256, Ch. 12)

** Conclusions: the NRC needs to make big changes in safety analysis

“In the end, the NRC must be able to tell the American public, “We’ve taken every reasonable step to protect you.” And it must be the public, not industry or bureaucrats, who define “reasonable.” (pg. 260, Ch. 12)

This document provides a lengthy compilation of quotations from the book. Many more pithy & informative quotations could have been included if recording all these quotes were not so time-consuming!

This is a very important book.

Why this posting now?

The problems that this book details about the intransigence of the nuclear regulatory agencies have not begun to be solved. The problems of collusion among regulators & industry & governments have not begun to be solved.

Since most "average citizens" (& even politicians) seem unaware that these problems exist (while those in power who do know, deny them), rassling with & solving them will be a very great challenge indeed.

In Durham Region (& of great interest across the entire Greater Toronto Area), we’re about to witness an expensive hearing process involving Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s request to Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), for a 13-year license for the aging reactors at Darlington (hearing to take place in early November).

People need to understand the kinds of problems that led to the Fukushima disaster that are laid out so very thoroughly in this book.

“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.” (from the introduction to the book)

The Fukushima disaster was not caused by the earthquake or the tsunami; it is a man-made disaster that could happen anywhere there are nuclear reactors.

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.”

** Note: same deal here in Ontario! Emergency planning predicated on a minor accident, not a major one. Plans = utterly inadequate. Recent editorial from Japan regarding evacuation issues there.

“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 Commission has verified that there was a lag in upgrading nuclear emergencypreparedness 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)

** Other recent, relevant posts on this blog:

2 outstanding (& related) articles:

P.S. on October 17/15: On October 14th, DNA donated copies of the Union of Concerned Scientists' book to each of Durham Region's eight municipal Councils (& the Regional Chair) & reminded them all of inadequate nuclear emergency planning as well as the untruth of the "It Can't Happen Here" myth. Media article here. Copies were also later given to the Premier of Ontario & to the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services (the provincial ministry in charge of emergency planning).