Greenpeace released a report today that assesses both the adequacy of Canada’s nuclear safety regulations and the weaknesses of the reactor designs being considered for construction in Ontario. The Globe and Mail ran a story on the report this morning.
The report finds that Canada’s nuclear safety standards fail to protect Canadians from the full range of real accident and terrorist threats posed by nuclear stations. It also finds that all three reactor designs being considered for Ontario contain flaws that leave them vulnerable to radiation releases following an accident or terrorist attack.
We’ve submitted the report to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency as comments on the proposed environmental assessment guidelines for Bruce Power’s proposal to build new reactors at the Bruce site on Lake Huron.
I think most Canadians would be surprised to learn that historically environmental reviews on nuclear stations in Canada haven't assessed the environmental impacts of nuclear power's biggest hazards, such as the long-term storage of radioactive waste and nuclear accidents leading to large radiation releases. Unsurprisingly, this leads to misleading environmental assessments that conclude there will be "no significant environmental impacts."
This is obviously not true, but the federal nuclear agencies (such as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) continue to pretend that many types of accidents won't happen and dismiss public requests that such accidents be considered in environmental reviews.
If Ontario is going to proceed with its plan to build new nuclear reactors, Canadians deserve an honest and comprehensive assessment of the hazards posed by new nuclear plants.
Canada's nuclear safety regulations would allow reactors vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks to be built.
Canadians have the right to understand what the potential consequences of such accidents and terrorist attacks would be. Any credible environmental assessment will not pretend that such accidents won't happen.
Indeed, any credible review of the environmental impacts of an accidents or terrorist attacks would show that no new reactors should be approved.
You can read the report here, or get a synopsis of the reports findings here.