Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said today she considers the possibility of Russians hacking into Ontario’s nuclear plants “a very serious question” and “something that we are obviously constantly asking about and making sure that all precautions are being taken.”
“Cyber-warfare joins human error and airplane collision on the list of GTA nuclear accident threats at Pickering and Darlington generating stations,” said Jack Gibbons, Chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
The New York Times reported on Friday that the White House released evidence and analysis on Thursday that Russian operatives successfully hacked into the control rooms of civilian nuclear power plants in the United States and in several European countries. The report expressed concern that the Russian “fingers on the switch” could have “sabotaged or shut off plants at will.”
“United States officials and private security firms saw the attacks as a signal by Moscow that it could disrupt the West’s critical facilities in the event of a conflict,” the Times reported
Wynne responded to the news, and commented on the vulnerability to hacking of Ontario’s nuclear power plants, during an event at Humber College Lakeshore campus in Toronto.
Wynne was asked: “The New York Times is reporting that the Russians have hacked into nuclear energy plants and water plants in both America and Europe. Are you confident that they haven’t hacked into our nuclear plants, and are our nuclear plants safe from hacking?”
Wynne’s response was: “Well it’s a very serious question. Our nuclear industry here in Ontario is very, very strong. It is world-renowned. There are very deep and prudent protections in place. But it is something that we are obviously constantly asking about and making sure that all precautions are being taken.”
“One good precaution against a nuclear cyber attack would be to shut down 47-year-old Pickering Nuclear Station , with its 1970s computers, when it’s operating license expires this summer,” Gibbons said.
“We share the Premier’s concern about the possibility of Russians hacking into Ontario nuclear plants,” said Gibbons.
This is yet another cause for concern about the continued presence of nuclear facilities in densely-populated areas. Pickering Nuclear Station has 2.2 million Ontarians living within its 30-kilometer high-risk zone, the largest number surrounding any nuclear station in North America.
The power from Pickering nuclear plant can be replaced by clean, lower-cost hydroelectric power from Hydro-Quebec, which would save Ontario $1 billion per year.
Video of the Premier’s response begins at 8:30 in this clip:
For further information:
Jack Gibbons, Chair
(416) 260 2080 x2