“Today, we will have a moment of silence to remember the Tōhoku earthquake,” said one of my co-workers, translating an announcement. March 11 marked the two-year anniversary of what is considered one of the greatest natural and man-made disasters in history.
The Fukishima nuclear meltdown triggered by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami now come to mind whenever nuclear power plant issues arise.
The nuclear plant located in Darlington, Ontario proposed a refurbishment of old reactors as well as developing four new reactors situated on the shore of Lake Ontario. The plant has been in operation since 1990, and in order to keep functioning at a high level the refurbishment must take place. The refurbishment of the plant will help to keep it in operation until 2055.
Currently, the Darlington nuclear plant is capable of turning out 3 156 megawatts of power, enough to energize two million Ontario homes. It is one of the largest nuclear power plants of the world and is also considered one of the top performing plants. Consequently, all this is done with fewer CO2 emissions than other sources of energy, which in turn helps to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.
Approval for refurbishment almost seems like a natural move forward.
However, many groups and citizens are opposing the refurbishment plans. Concerns about safety, chemical and noise pollution, among other issues have been called to attention. The largest concern being that a proper environmental assessment has not been done.
Ontario Power Generation applied for a “screening assessment” to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This is the lowest level of environmental assessment required by Canadian law and consequently the assessment with, “the least scrutiny, public participation, or expert review,” according to Waterkeeper’s, a non-profit group working to protect Lake Ontario’s waters, website.
The report pointed out some weaknesses in the proposal but in the end concluded that there would be no significant environmental adversities. Many feel that this assessment has failed to consider carefully the effects that the plant will have on Lake Ontario, fish that reside there, alternative ideas, as well as many other issues.
Currently, ecojustice, a Canadian environmental law firm has teamed up with GreenPeace; Lake Ontario Waterkeeper; Northwatch, a group that opposes nuclear power; and the Canadian Environmental Law association to help put a halt on the plant’s construction until a proper assessment has been done.
Unfortunately, when the unthinkable happens it is sometimes impossible for the landscape to return to what it once was. The devastation caused by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami alone are enough to remind the world of nature’s power for years to come, but the meltdown of the Fukishima nuclear power plant will act as a reminder of what of what happens when our own creations malfunction. History.