Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans are inadequate, post Fukushima

Feature story - July 19, 2012
In light of the Fukushima disaster, re-building the Darlington nuclear station should not be approved before the federal and provincial governments have publicly reviewed the adequacy of Ontario's nuclear emergency plans, say environmental organizations.

 

“Premier McGuinty and the federal government must ensure nuclear emergency plans can cope with large scale radioactive releases post Fukushima. By restricting nuclear emergency planning to scenarios that are easily anticipated and controlled, the federal and provincial governments are failing to fully protect the citizens of Durham Region and beyond,” said Jeff Brackett of Durham Nuclear Awareness.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) should widen the scope of its environmental review of the Darlington nuclear station to include an examination of the capacity of emergency plans to cope with Fukushima-scale accidents, says The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA) and Greenpeace Canada.

The CNSC is reviewing Darlington because Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to spend $8 – 14 billion to extend the station’s operational life until 2055.
"The current CNSC environmental review of Darlington only considers small-scale accidents. But post-Fukushima the different levels of governments must stop pretending large-scale accidents can’t happen in Ontario. There are no detailed emergency plans in case they do,” said Theresa McClenaghan, the Executive Director of the CELA.

“Premier McGuinty has a responsibility to ensure Ontarians can be protected and evacuated in the event of an accident at Darlington. We’re seeing a major nuclear accident somewhere in the world once a decade. Dismissing reactor risks is simply irresponsible,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst with Greenpeace Canada.

The current level of environmental review is unable to adequately address the complex issues associated with emergency planning and should be upgraded to a more rigorous Panel Review. Before OPG can move ahead with the project Ontario, as the government responsible for all emergency planning, should support and participate in a high-level review of the Darlington’s emergency plans and environmental impacts, say the groups.
OPG’s identified a number of potential for large-scale accidents at Darlington, but these accidents have not been included within the CNSC environmental review to test the adequacy of current emergency plans.

One possible accident scenario at Darlington is a Fukushima-scale level of radiation released over a 24 hour period. Ontario does not have detailed emergency plans designed to cope with large radiation releases within the first 24 hours.This is why these environmental Ontario’s emergency plans are seriously flawed and must be publicly reviewed.

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