March 28, 2018
Kristen Calis

What would happen in Pickering nuclear accident: report
Groups continue to push for closure of Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

PICKERING — A Fukushima-type disaster at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station could lead to 26,000 cancers and $125 billion in lost home values, according to a report released by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

Groups opposed to the continuous operation of the Pickering plant, Durham Nuclear Awareness and the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), hosted an event at the Pickering Public Library in March, addressing a new report by Ian Fairlie, radiation biologist from the U.K. His report considers what would happen if a serious nuclear accident, similar in extent to what took place in Fukushima, were to happen at the equally old six-reactor Pickering plant.

The event marked the seventh anniversary of a runaway triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Station in Japan. The effects of this catastrophe continue today, says OCAA.

Jack Gibbons, chair of OCAA, said 2.2 million people live within 30 kilometres of the plant.

“Pickering is surrounded by more people than any other nuclear station in North America,” said Gibbons.

According to Fairlie’s report, assuming similar amounts of radioactivity and a similar fallout distribution pattern, more than 650,000 people and 154,000 homes would have to be evacuated for 30 to 100 years in the GTA.

Evacuated residents would not be fully compensated for their losses. Ontario Power Generation’s nuclear liability is capped at $1 billion.

“If you look at your home insurance policy, it doesn’t protect you in the case of a nuclear accident,” said Gibbons.

Low level fallout would stretch from west of London to the southwestern corner of Algonquin Park. All of Pickering plus parts of Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Aurora and Scarborough would need to be evacuated. Major highways, including highways 401, 407 and 404 and major rail lines would now run through no-go zones.

OCAA believes it could happen here, and says no system is perfect, noting Pickering is now 47 years old.

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