Once again, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is failing to put safety first when it comes to nuclear waste storage at its Darlington Nuclear Station.

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The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Great Lakes Water Quality Board has called for nuclear facilities to pull nuclear wastes away from the shores of the Great Lakes to prevent the storage facilities from being compromised by flooding and erosion driven by climate change. Ignoring these calls, OPG is proposing to build two new waste warehouses even closer to the lake than its existing substandard facilities.

And once again, OPG is opting for the “Amazon warehouse” style of construction for its proposed waste storage facilities instead of the kind of hardened secure onsite storage that is recommended by the IJC and already in use in Germany.

The need for these new facilities speaks to the problem that despite more than 60 years of nuclear operation, we are still decades away from having any long-term waste storage solution and therefore must keep thousands of radioactive fuel bundles in “temporary” storage surrounded by millions of people. The Ontario government’s decision to double down on nuclear power without any proven long-term waste solutions in place speak volumes about its irresponsible decision making. That this waste is stored next to the source of drinking water for millions of people and on the edge of our largest urban centre – and will be for decades to come – is just another failure of the nuclear power system.

In Germany the nuclear power companies have put “safety first” by building on-site, above-ground, attack-resistant reinforced concrete vaults for the interim storage of their nuclear wastes, with walls and roofs approximately 1.2 and 1.3 metres thick.

OPG has the money and the means to do better. According to a report prepared by OPG, the total capital cost of building above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults at Darlington would be approximately $333 million. Meanwhile, OPG’s nuclear waste storage fund has a market value of $11.3 billion.

The total radioactivity of the nuclear wastes stored at the Darlington Nuclear Station is more than 150 times greater than the total radiation released to the atmosphere by the Fukushima accident in 2011.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will be holding a one-day virtual hearing on Jan. 26, 2023 to consider OPG’s request for permission to store Darlington’s nuclear wastes in conventional commercial storage buildings, on Lake Ontario’s shoreline, for another 10 years.

To learn more please click here to download our fact sheet: A Safer Interim Storage Solution for Ontario’s Nuclear Wastes.

What you can do

Please contact the President of the CNSC, Rumina Velshi, and ask her to put our safety first by directing OPG to immediately build above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults, away from the Lake Ontario shoreline, on the Darlington Nuclear Station site for the safer interim storage of its nuclear wastes.

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