A Personal Story for Closing the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
Time to end this dangerous dinosaur's working life
By Scott Tait
Risk is risk, great or small. We have some of the best gun laws on the planet; we have health care and labour laws yet we continually skirt the issue of nuclear safety and the potential health issues that arise from it.
Tritium is the byproduct from our CANDU reactors, more so than other fission type reactors on the planet. Tritium causes cancer, causes embryo deformity and DNA mutations. It floats in the air from plant discharges, leaking valves and routine maintenance and is there for us to ingest daily through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume. That's the health risk and that should be enough, yet at $900 million per year to operate the Pickering Nuclear Station, when cheap power is available for purchase from Quebec the fact that it is still operational is unparalleled.
2.2 million people live within 30 kilometers of the site. Within 50 kilometers we have farmland and streams, wetlands, ponds, springs, and aquifers. These aquifers release into the streams and tributaries that become creeks and rivers that flow eventually into Lake Simcoe, Lake Scugog and Lake Ontario that sustain the water we drink.
Pickering's life was supposedly over in 2013. That was the year that it reached the end of its design life but it was granted a license extension till 2018. This superseded its original expected life by 5 years without any upgrades or updates. There is also talk that the powers that be would like to run the declining facility to 2028, close it and then let it deteriorate for future generations to deal with.
None of this behavior is smart, forward thinking or even moral. Pickering Nuclear Station is contaminating our air, poisoning our water and defiling our plants and food the end result because a few people (politicians and OPG) don't want to deal with the situation or admit fault. The Ontario political parties want the Ontario Power Workers Union on their side for votes while people get sick and die. Brutal yes, but broken down to base components, true.
So why did I call this a personal story? My wife was born and raised in Stouffville. A town within 30 kilometers of the Pickering plant. Her childhood years happened while the plant was constructed and her adolescence while the plant was in full operation. She succumbed to breast cancer in 2007, her mother from cancer of the kidneys in 1988 and her father of stomach cancer in 1976. All these can be and are associated diseases of tritium ingestion. Can it be proven? No. Would it be disputed? Of course.
The facts are that we are paying too much for a system that is outdated and a potential China Syndrome waiting to happen. We are paying with our health and the lives of our loved ones.
Pickering needs to be closed, no ifs and or buts. It is a dangerous dinosaur of past days. It's from a time when we all thought that hiding under your desk and covering your head would let you survive a nuclear attack or when doctors prescribed smoking to keep pregnant women calm and relaxed during labour.
So the question is to Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Power Workers is "What is more important, a livelihood or a life?