Hard on the heels of a blunt wake-up call – in the form of an erroneous emergency alert – about the dangers of operating a large nuclear station in the heart of our largest urban area, it has now been revealed that Premier Ford actually wants to keep operating this old and unsafe plant past its current shutdown deadline.
After cancelling wind power projects and refusing Quebec Premier Legault’s repeated offers of water power at half the price of power from Pickering, Premier Ford is said to be pushing for operations to continue at the Pickering Nuclear Plant beyond 2024.
The 3rd oldest (and one of the largest) nuclear stations in North America is surrounded by twice as many people (2.2 million within 30 km.) as any other nuclear plant on the continent. It relies on seriously outdated technology, including computer systems running software from the 1970s. Pickering’s shared containment for multiple reactors is a dangerous design that would never be allowed today. Its reactor’s positive void coefficient reactivity, is a design flaw that was also present in the Chernobyl reactors.
Far from having “a safety record that is “the best in the world” as Pickering MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy erroneously claimed in the Toronto Star, the plant has been plagued with safety problems, including a major loss of coolant accident in 1983. The entire Pickering A plant was shut down in 1997 due to safety concerns. Attempts to rebuild these reactors were a fiasco of delays and cost overruns, with Ontario Power Generation eventually giving up on refurbishing two of the four A reactors.
Pickering’s six operating reactors are offline roughly 30% of the time, meaning they continue to perform poorly and lead to increased use of gas-fired generating plants and greenhouse gases. In fact, the station is the among the most expensive and least reliable nuclear stations in the world according to a report written for the Ontario Energy Board.
Extending the life of this old and dangerous nuclear plant will require the approval of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). We believe the CNSC should refuse to allow any further operation of a patched-up and already well beyond its design life plant beyond 2024. Instead, the people of Pickering and east Toronto who have lived with this dinosaur on their doorsteps for close to 50 years should be given back its 600 acre waterfront site to spur new community opportunities.
Rather than waiting for the next emergency alert, let’s give Pickering-Uxbridge MPP Bethlenfalvy a wake-up call and tell him it is time to shut this old and dangerous plant down – call him now at 905-509-0336 and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Bischoff, Director