Greens call for review of Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans

Queen’s Park – Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner called on the Liberal government to review Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans.  
Last week the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) issued a regulation requiring nuclear stations to pre-distribute anti-radiation potassium iodide (KI) pills to residents within the provincially determined 10 km primary zone around Ontario’s nuclear stations. Mass distribution of KI pills out to 16 km has already occurred in New Brunswick and Quebec, but not in Ontario.
 
“Ontario’s nuclear emergency management plans are inadequate at best,” says Schreiner. “The Liberal government has dragged its feet on updating nuclear emergency plans since Fukushima. This puts public safety at risk.”
 
Schreiner believes the CNSC’s new requirement is laudable, but its effectiveness is undermined by Ontario’s failure to publicly review its nuclear emergency plans, especially the 10km primary zone, which was established before Chernobyl. The province, not the CNSC, is responsible for determining the radius of the primary zone. 
 
The CNSC’s website cites research suggesting that the pre-distribution of KI pills should take place within a “30-mile (48 kilometre) radius of a nuclear power plant.”  This is backed up by Switzerland’s evidence-based decision earlier this year to distribute KI pill to everyone within 50 km of a Swiss nuclear station.  Four million Swiss citizens will receive KI pills this month. 
 
“People’s safety is too important to make this stuff up on the fly,” says Schreiner. “An evidence based, public review of nuclear emergency plans is desperately needed. This is especially important when determining the radius of the primary zone and the distribution of KI pills.”
 
Research indicates such preventative measures can greatly reduce the accumulation of radioiodines in the thyroid gland, which is an important measure since thyroid cancer is one of the most frequently observed consequences of a nuclear disaster. 
 
The GPO supports pre-distribution of KI pills to all residents living within 30 to 50km of the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce nuclear generating stations. And the GPO is calling on the government to conduct a public review of Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans. 
 
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