Shuttering Pickering = jobs, savings and safety

Closing the Pickering Nuclear Station when its license expires in 2018 and getting to work on dismantling the plant immediately will be safer, create more jobs between now and 2030, and save hundreds of millions of dollars.

That’s the finding of a new report commissioned by Ontario Clean Air Alliance Research from energy consultants Torrie Smith and Associates.Torrie Smith compared Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG’s) plan of leaving the plant untouched for 30 years before starting decommissioning to the internationally preferred approach of immediate decommissioning.

They found that getting to work immediately would create 16,000 person years of employment, save $800 million to $1.2 billion on decommissioning costs, and ensure a smoother transition for workers and the local economy.

In fact, Torrie Smith points out that the only reason to leave Canada’s oldest nuclear plant sitting idle on the Pickering waterfront for the next 30+ years is money. While there is enough money in OPG’s Decommissioning Fund to fully cover the costs of decommissioning Pickering today, OPG would prefer to wait and let investment returns over the next three decades do the heavy financial lifting.

From a safety perspective, a 30-year wait simply means that Pickering’s components and structures will continue to age and deteriorate, actually raising risks while producing more low-level radioactive waste. A 30-year delay will have little impact on levels of radioactivity in the plant or affect how the dismantling work is approached, which is why the International Atomic Energy Agency states that “the preferred decommissioning strategy shall be immediate dismantling.”

The Pickering Nuclear Station is North America’s 4th oldest and one of the largest nuclear stations on the continent. We should not leave this legacy of a bygone era to future generations to deal with. Instead, we should seize the opportunity to develop expertise in a growing new industry – nuclear decommissioning.

Given that Canada’s nuclear industry hasn’t sold a new reactor in 30 years, the future of our nuclear industry clearly lies in providing the expertise to safely decommission old nuclear facilities – including other aging CANDU reactors in Canada and around the world.

Please send Premier Wynne a message asking her to order OPG to develop an immediate decommissioning plan for Pickering and to close this dinosaur by 2018 (when its license expires) at the latest.