The Globe and Mail has published stunning revelations about the safety of the Pickering Nuclear Station and how the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) signed off on a 10-year licence extension despite knowing that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) was working with deeply flawed data about one of the plant’s most important safety concerns.
Pickering Nuclear Station, 8 reactors in the GTA, 50 years old
CANDU reactors are filled with literally miles of pressure tubing that carries heavy water to and from the reactor core. These tubes are a real Achilles heel for these plants because they become brittle over time, leading to the possibility of ruptures and leaks. That can mean anything from a heavy water spill to a full meltdown if the core cannot be properly cooled.
Now, thanks to the Globe acquiring documents through a Freedom of Information request, we know that OPG has submitted deeply flawed data on the state of these tubes to the CNSC. This is especially alarming because Pickering is already operating well past its design life and the vulnerability of the tubes increases every year.
OPG wants to continue operating one of the world’s oldest nuclear stations without undertaking a costly replacement of pressure tubes, which is standard practice in refurbishing aging CANDU reactors. The Pickering Nuclear Station was originally due to be shut down in 2018. This was extended to 2024 after what has been revealed to be a highly flawed licence hearing. OPG has indicated it now wants to operate the plant until 2025.
Enough is enough. The Pickering Nuclear Station is surrounded by more people, within 30 km, than any other nuclear station in North America. Its continued operation is a huge hazard and unnecessary risk for the millions of people living in the Golden Horseshoe and beyond. As pressure tube expert Dr. Frank Greening told the Globe: “They [OPG] don’t want to give up and they want to keep pushing this CANDU to the absolute limit. And my concern is that one of these days, they’ll exceed that limit, and we will have a potentially very nasty accident at one of these stations. I think they’re playing Russian Roulette with the Canadian public.”
Please send a message to Energy Minister Greg Rickford (plus ON opposition leaders and your MPP) and tell him to order OPG to shutdown the Pickering Station ASAP.
With our existing transmission lines we can triple our imports of clean, safe and low-cost Quebec water power to replace the output of the Pickering Nuclear Station. There is no excuse for leaving this ticking time bomb operating for another four years in the Greater Golden Horseshoe which is home to 9 million people, and right beside the source of drinking water for millions of people.