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We need a safer interim storage solution for Ontario’s nuclear wastes

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In Climate Change
Jul 18th, 2022
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From the Ontario Clean Air Alliance
By Angela Bischoff, Director

The International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board is calling for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) nuclear waste storage facilities to be “hardened” and located away from shorelines to prevent them from becoming compromised by flooding and erosion.

According to a report prepared for OPG, the total capital cost of building above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults at the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Stations would be approximately $1 billion. This safer interim storage solution can be fully paid for by OPG’s nuclear waste storage fund, which has a market value of $11.3 billion.

As our new report, A Safer Interim Storage Solution for Ontario’s Nuclear Wastesreveals this is urgent for multiple reasons:

–        The total radioactivity of the nuclear wastes stored at the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce Nuclear Stations is 700 times greater than the total radiation released to the atmosphere by the Fukushima accident in 2011.

–        OPG is currently storing these wastes in conventional commercial storage buildings.

–        According to OPG, a new off-site facility for the storage of these wastes will not be in service until 2043 at the earliest.

–        Above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults will provide much greater protection against deliberate attacks and greater radioactivity containment in the event of leaks, ruptures or other incidents than conventional commercial storage buildings.

–        Building safer interim storage facilities will also create good jobs.

In Germany, six nuclear stations have hardened storage facilities. The concrete walls and roofs on these facilities are 1.2 to 1.3 metres thick. This is the kind of much safer design that Ontario should be copying as we wait for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to find a “willing host” community to take these dangerous wastes.

What you can do

Please contact Premier Ford and Energy Minister Todd Smith and tell them that we need a safer interim storage option for OPG’s nuclear wastes. Ask them to order OPG to store its high-level radioactive wastes in above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced concrete vaults at its nuclear stations.

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