Seven years ago, a runaway triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Station in Japan occurred. The effects of this catastrophe continue today.
We asked international radioactivity expert Dr. Ian Fairlie to examine what a Fukushima-scale accident at the equally old six-reactor Pickering Nuclear Station (just east of Toronto) would mean for the 2.2 million people living within 30 kms of the plant.
According to his report, a Fukushima-level disaster at the Pickering Nuclear Station could cause 26,000 cancers, approximately half of which would be fatal, plus a $125 billion loss in value for single family homes in the eastern Greater Toronto Area.
Assuming similar amounts of radioactivity and a similar fallout distribution pattern, more than 650,000 people and 154,000 homes would have to be evacuated for 30 to 100 years in the Greater Toronto Area.
The hundreds of thousands of evacuated residents would not be fully compensated for their losses. Ontario Power Generation’s nuclear liability is capped at $1 billion. (Homeowners insurance never covers losses in the event of a nuclear accident.)
Low level fallout would stretch from west of London to the southwestern corner of Algonquin Park. All of Pickering plus parts of Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Aurora and Scarborough would need to be evacuated. Major highways, including the 401, 407 and 404 and major rail lines would now run through no-go zones.
Could it happen here? The answer is yes. No system is perfect and the systems at Pickering are now 47-years-old and far from state of the art, having been designed and built in the 1960s and ‘70s.
That begs the question: “Why?” Why continue operating North America’s fourth oldest nuclear station when we have safer and lower cost options, from importing low-cost power from Quebec to improving energy efficiency at a cost of pennies per kilowatt hour? Why put people’s lives and livelihoods needlessly at risk?
Ontario Power Generation is applying for a 10-year license extension for Pickering, North America’s fifth largest and costliest to operate nuclear station. It’s time for our leaders to stand up and say NO. Please forward this to your MPP.
Angela Bischoff, Director