The Pickering Nuclear Station is Canada’s oldest nuclear generating station. It is located closer to a major urban area than any other nuclear station in North America. Fortunately, this aging nuclear station surrounded by millions of people is scheduled to be shutdown in 2024. This will create a tremendous opportunity to revitalize the Pickering waterfront by re-purposing the 600 acre lakeside site occupied by the plant.
The International Atomic Energy says immediate dismantling is “the preferred decommissioning strategy” for nuclear plants. Nuclear operators in the U.S., Germany, France, Italy and Spain have followed this advice and have often completely dismantled closed nuclear stations in as little as a decade.
On January 27, 2020 Mayor Ryan and Pickering Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the Pickering Nuclear Station to be dismantled as “expeditiously as possible” after it is shut down in keeping with the recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency that immediate dismantling is “the preferred decommissioning strategy” for nuclear plants.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG), on the other hand, currently plans to wait 30 years before starting to dismantle the plant. Under OPG’s timeline, the Pickering waterfront will be home to a mothballed 50-year-old nuclear plant until at least 2064. This plan is in OPG’s financial interest as it defers costs, but it is not in the interest of the people of Pickering who will have to wait decades to benefit from a new waterfront.
Compare this to what is happening on the site of the old Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga. Here the community is on the cusp of seeing whole new neighbourhoods — and new businesses — spring up on its waterfront.
There are no safety reasons to wait three decades to begin dismantling the Pickering Nuclear Station. In fact, quite the opposite. By proceeding with immediate dismantling, current workers who know this one-of-a-kind plant the best can be involved in safely taking it down. The kind of technology nuclear companies are using to rebuild reactors at Darlington and Bruce (and formerly at Pickering) can be used to keep workers safe.
You can see the recording of our recent community meeting here.
Advantages of immediate dismantling:
- Create a better economic transition for workers and the surrounding community, including creating 32,000 person years of direct and indirect employment
- Reduce risks by avoiding the impact of 30 years of further aging on the plant’s systems and materials
- Ensure that knowledgeable staff are still available to assist with understanding the plant’s systems, construction characteristics and modifications
- Position Ontario as a leader in nuclear decommissioning at a time when hundreds of nuclear plants in North America and Europe are reaching the end of their operational lives
- Creates an opportunity to re-imagine a 600-acre prime waterfront site in the heart of Pickering.