Media Release: Nuclear disaster plans overlook Durham’s unique challenges

Media Release

Whitby, ON – Durham Region residents could be left vulnerable in the event of a reactor accident unless significant improvements are made to the provincial government’s proposed revisions to its nuclear emergency plans, say environmental organizations.

“The holes in the government’s proposed nuclear emergency plans mean Durham families and communities may fall through the gaps and could be harmed in the event of a nuclear accident at Pickering or Darlington,” said Janet McNeill from Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA).

The groups are concerned by a Discussion Paper published by the Ontario government last month that recommends against strengthening public safety and nuclear emergency preparedness in response to the Fukushima disaster.

The province’s recommendations fail to recognize the unique challenges of protecting public safety in Durham Region, which is the only rapidly urbanizing community in Canada that hosts 10 aging reactors at the Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations.

The groups say Durham Region needs strengthened emergency response to address the significant logistical challenges posed by Durham Region’s large and growing population.

“It is completely irresponsible of the government to encourage population growth around reactors in Durham Region without also ensuring a nuclear emergency response can cope with worst-case accidents,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

Many Durham Region residents and communities, such as Whitby and areas of Oshawa, fall outside of emergency preparedness areas because of the province’s current policy of preparing for only smaller accidents. Durham residents also live in the shadow of two nuclear stations, but provincial plans are designed for individual nuclear stations.

“The Wynne government needs to put in place nuclear emergency plans that protect all residents of Durham Region,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a Senior Energy Analyst with Greenpeace Canada.

The groups are asking the province to prepare for worst-case accidents, expand emergency preparedness zones, meet international best practices for emergency response and establish new measures to protect drinking water in the event of a nuclear accident.

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Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness, Coordinator, 647-207-3208
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, CELA, 416-662-8341
Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst, Greenpeace, 416-884-7053 [English/French]