Greenpeace Canada

Greenpeace Canada

January 24, 2007 10:26 ET

Reactor Review Must be Upgraded

Catastrophic accidents and terrorism must be included as part of environmental assessment of nuclear station rebuild

Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, Energy Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 24, 2007) - The federal nuclear regulator must assess the impacts of a major accident or terrorist attack as part its environmental assessment and safety review of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposal to rebuild the Pickering B nuclear station, Greenpeace Canada told the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) at hearings today in Ottawa. The environmental assessment should be upgraded to a Panel Review - the highest level of environmental assessment under federal law.

"Pickering is Canada's oldest and most dangerous nuclear station and is only 30 kilometres from downtown Toronto. In a post-Chernobyl, post-September 11th world, it is unacceptable for the federal regulator to dismiss the impacts of a meltdown or terrorist attack," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. "Because of the high population density regulatory authorities would not allow a new plant to be built at Pickering today."

The CNSC is considering draft environmental assessment guidelines for OPG's proposal to spend billions rebuilding the ageing Pickering B nuclear station to extend its operational life until 2060. The proposed review is the lowest type of federal assessment - a screening review -- and does not include the environmental impacts of major accidents or terrorism.

Greenpeace is opposing the CNSC decision to exclude the environmental impacts of terrorist attacks at the Pickering B nuclear station because such actions are explicitly required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Greenpeace cited a recent decision by the U.S. courts requiring the Nuclear Regulatory Agency to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a terrorist attack at a nuclear facility in California.

"An airplane crash at the Pickering nuclear station could cause a meltdown that would devastate Southern Ontario," added Stensil, "There should be no double standard on nuclear safety. Old and new reactors should meet the same standards."

The Toronto Star reported recently that CNSC will require new nuclear reactors built in Canada to be robust enough to withstand the impact of a major aircraft in case of a terrorist attack. The federal government has plans to build the Pickering International Airport, just north of the nuclear station, thus increasing the risk of an airplane crash due to accident or terrorism. Greenpeace Canada is also arguing that the CNSC should require nuclear operators to upgrade aging reactors to meet current nuclear safety standards.

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For more information contact:

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner, 416-884-7053 (English/French)
Andrew Male, Communications Coordinator, 416-880-2757


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