Having read about Greenpeace’s action earlier this week, I was reminded once again about what a radioactive fallout could look like close to my home here in Toronto if we were to suffer a massive nuclear accident such as those which have happened in others places around the world like in Japan, Ukraine and even closer to home in the USA.
Imagine Lake Ontario contaminated by radiation. Lake Ontario: the source of drinking water for millions of people and habitat for so much wildlife. How would we manage? How would we deal with the public hysteria that would follow? I don’t wish to sound like a doomsday activist, but this isn’t a zombie apocalypse story – this is Ontario’s reality of gambling with nuclear energy. Living within the 60 km radius of massive nuclear stations in Pickering and Darlington, where official emergency plans are only equipped to deal with minor accidents and nothing close to that of Fukoshima or Chernobyl, I worry. Even worse, dealing with a massively populated city like Toronto becomes even more challenging given an evacuation scenario. Getting children, elderly folk, the sick and disabled out of the zones efficiently will be very, very challenging and requires a comprehensive plan. Where do you go if you have no family or friends to take you in outside of the fallout zones? I am concerned for the safety of Canadians and angry at our government for being so dismissive.
It’s been almost two years since Fukushima’s nuclear disaster in Daiichi, Japan, and and while the media is through with the headlines, and the fear of nuclear energy dissolves further into the background – the threat remains real and close for millions of people all over the world. While many nations, particularly in the EU remain opposed to nuclear energy and are working hard to phase-out reactors, Canada lags behind. This is not surprising given Canada’s poor track record when it comes to green energy.
Environmental accidents happen all over the world on a regular basis. We see it happening from mass storms to earthquakes and nuclear meltdowns. Unless you have first-hand experience, you can’t really begin to understand what it’s like to fall victim to a disaster of such magnitude. When it’s all done and over, people continue to suffer, sometimes for generations. Families today in Fukushima are slowly rebuilding while they endure the immediate depression of personal loss on a community-wide scale. Chernobly, 26 years later is still ridden with rare cancers and birth defects. The site of the accident still uninhabitable.
This brings me back to Ontario, where our policy makers are currently making decisions about our future energy sources. We are at a crossroad. We could switch channels and make some smart decisions. The $36 billion earmarked to refurbish old reactors at Darlington could be spent on a incredible mixed-bag of green of energy sources for Ontario. We have the power to make some epic change.
The risks associated with nuclear energy is much more than the threat of reactor accidents. Even if we never see a reactor fail again, there are still many problems with this industry. Uranium mining, managing nuclear waste and weapons have parallel concerns. It’s a loaded source of energy that’s expensive, dirty and dangerous on many fronts. Imagine being on the path to NO more uranium mining, NO more risk of nuclear fallout and nuclear war.
I am so grateful working for an organization like Greenpeace, as I need a constant reminder about what we need to do to protect our planet, and in turn ourselves and our families. Having become a mother recently, the catchphrase of “protecting our environment for future generations”, rings truer than ever.
I urge you to follow the direction of activists around the globe to phase-out nuclear energy. In Ontario, you can start by sending a letter to Ontario’s Energy Minster Chris Bentley to ensure Canadians are protected in the event of a nuclear accident at Darlington.