There's a nuclear fuel facility in a residential Toronto neighbourhood and people want it gone
A plant in Toronto that produces and packages uranium pellets, the fuel for nuclear reactors, is coming up to the end of its 10-year operating license and residents face the chance to have a say on whether it sticks around for another decade.
BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada's nuclear facilities at Lansdowne and Dupont in the Junction Triangle and in nearby Peterborough are currently operating on a Class 1B Nuclear Fuel Facility Operating Licence, administered by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which expires after December 31,2020.
As part of its application for a new ten-year license, the power generation company is holding public hearings this week, during which members of the public can ask questions and submit their input on the matter.
Did you know there is a nuclear production facility in Toronto's west end? It's called #BWXT, and they produce uranium pellets used in nuclear power plants.— Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (@LOWaterkeeper) February 14, 2020
Their licence is under review for another 10-years. Public hearings will occur in early March. https://t.co/bERS94VrOw
Many people in Toronto are understandably wary of emissions and of having radioactive material anywhere near their neighbourhood, and some have long been opposed to the plant — which was formerly run by GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy — as well as to the prospect of BWXT's license being renewed.
Old nuclear fuel plant in Toronto neighbourhood, needs stronger monitoring & treatment plan for water & property. Waterkeeper submissions to the Nuclear Safety Commission hearing #swimdrinkfish #bwxt https://t.co/CCLxv2RG1R— Mark Mattson (@waterkeepermark) January 31, 2020
There are groups like Citizens Against Radioactive Neighbourhoods and Durham Nuclear Awareness in Peterborough, which are bothered by perceived dangers of the plant and its potential license renewal, as well as some changes that BWXT has proposed in its application, like moving its pelleting operations to Peterborough, which currently just bundles the pellets created at the Toronto facility.
Similar results in the Toronto Medical Officer of Health report from June 2018.— Jaro Franta (@FrantaJaro) February 10, 2020
This is for the BWXT pelleting plant. pic.twitter.com/nu5CZt87lf
Residents are also concerned about a potential accident, especially after the recent Pickering Nuclear Generation Station scare, and haven't felt that the company or the governmental body have adequately assuaged the public's worries or addressed their inquiries.
One individual told the Star in January that after asking the CNSC about what would happen if there were to be an accident at the Tirinti facility, "the answer was, ‘Well there won’t be.’ That’s when I got really scared.”
But, the outlet goes on to point out that the Toronto plant has never had an accident and actually produces less radiation than the allowable level, but also less than the amount of background radiation most people living in the city encounter in their day-to-day life.
"Dzerowicz was adamant residents in her riding be allowed to ask their own questions and requested the CNSC [change the original location and] hold #BWXT hearings in her riding" … "The CNSC complied and the Toronto hearings on March 2 and 3 will be held at Casa do Alentejo.” https://t.co/68tH3I0rbG— Julie Dzerowicz (@JulieDzerowicz) February 20, 2020
Still, the anti-nuclear activist community is a large one that includes MPs and MPPs, so it will be interesting to see how the hearings go and whether the CNSC decides to approve BWXT's application — and whether it's able to actually answer to the discerning public.
The public hearings will take place on March 2 and 3 at the Casa Do Alentejo Community Centre at 1130 Dupont Street in Toronto, and on March 4, 5 and 6 at the Holiday Inn Peterborough's Regency Ballroom at 150 George Street North. All members of the public are welcome.
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