Stop Nuclear Contamination


Contact: Dr. Richard Denton,
33 Ursa Court, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada P3E 6B8 . Phone: 249-360-5324
Co-Chair North America International Physicians For Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) (Nobel Peace Prize 1985) and associated with Int’l Campaign Against Nuclear weapons (ICAN winner of 2017 Nobel Peace Prize)

Past President, Physicians for Global Survival, now IPPNW Canada

Because of our concern for global health, we are committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons, the prevention of war, the promotion of nonviolent means of conflict resolution and social justice in a sustainable world. Many people, animals, and plants all over the world have been exposed to harmful radiation. As for numbers, accurate statistics have not been compiled. However, all victims and concerned members of the public may benefit from comparing experiences, and this is the place for such communication. If you have information that should be shared widely about the health and environmental consequences of exposure to radioactive contamination, you are welcome to post it here. And please check this page occasionally to keep up to date with ongoing events. Radioactivity is not a thing of the past. It will never be.

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Re-check those numbers

I posted this in the “Overview: Mass Radiation Exposure” section as well, but I am hoping to cross-post it here, due to relevance to both sections.

Over the past year or so, I have been reading on and off about the project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory which is digitizing and re-analyzing old nuclear test films. Dr. Greg Spriggs – a weapons physicist – is leading the project, which has partnered with archivists and film preservation experts, including Dr. Jim Moye. This is vital, as many of the old film reels documenting the nuclear weapons tests are disintegrating from age and radiation exposure.

Dr. Spriggs has noted that the early bomb yield calculations (essentially the calculations determining how powerful the nuclear weapon is/was) was done by hand (with the assistance of a Kodagraph) during the mid-twentieth century (1940s – 1960s) and often at fast speeds (likely due to military, political, and societal pressure). This has resulted in calculation errors of the bombs’ yields. In some circumstances, a bomb’s yield is/was off by as much as 30%.

Three particular reasons (among many other reasons) that this is alarming include:

1) A significant amount of the contamination in the Marshall Islands was noted to have been caused by a “miscalculation” and “misfiring” of an United States nuclear weapon or nuclear weapons in the late 1960s. Is it possible these errors – and subsequently some of the massive regional radioactive contamination – were due to inaccurately analyzed test films and rushed calculations? Dr. Spriggs notes that the cloud height – depicted in the films – can be used to estimate nuclear fallout – and that the calculations for cloud heights were additionally off by as much as 10-15%. Dr. Spriggs notes – in The Verge interview – that many scientists were simply “eyeballing” the size of the explosions at this time.
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Where to bury the damned stuff?

Background: February 1, 2020

On Friday, January 31, 2020, Ontario Power Generation’s planned nuclear waste dump near the shore of Lake Huron — a proposed Deep Geological Repository (DGR) to house all of Ontario’s Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste – was nixed by a decisive “no” vote from the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON).


However, plans for another DGR — this one intended to house all of Canada’s High Level Radioactive Waste (HLW), also known as irradiated nuclear fuel — continue uninterrupted, focussing on three candidate sites, two of which are also near the shore of Lake Huron.

The ongoing search for a “willing host community” to accept Canada’s HLW is managed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, owned by the three major produces of high level radioactive waste — Ontario Power Generation, Hydro-Quebec, and New Brunswick Power — under the authority of Canada’s Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.

In 2019 there were five candidate communities for the HLW DGR, including two communities quite close to the Lake Huron site mentioned in paragraph one. In November 2019, NWMO reduced the list of five candidates to only three, retaining the two that neighbour Lake Huron. One might say that the probability of getting a high level nuclear waste dump beside Lake Huron has increased from 2/5 to 2/3 — from 40 percent to 67 percent.

A bipartisan group of US Congressmen and Congresswomen issued a statement on January 17, 2020, calling on Canada to abandon all plans to site a nuclear waste dump of any kind anywhere in the Great Lakes basin.

Gordon Edwards.

Province plans to keep old Pickering Plant running

Hard on the heels of a blunt wake-up call – in the form of an erroneous emergency alert – about the dangers of operating a large nuclear station in the heart of our largest urban area, it has now been revealed that Premier Ford actually wants to keep operating this old and unsafe plant past its current shutdown deadline.

After cancelling wind power projects and refusing Quebec Premier Legault’s repeated offers of water power at half the price of power from Pickering, Premier Ford is said to be pushing for operations to continue at the Pickering Nuclear Plant beyond 2024.

Pickering is one of the oldest nuclear plants in the worldThe 3rd oldest (and one of the largest) nuclear stations in North America is surrounded by twice as many people (2.2 million within 30 km.) as any other nuclear plant on the continent. It relies on seriously outdated technology, including computer systems running software from the 1970s. Pickering’s shared containment for multiple reactors is a dangerous design that would never be allowed today. Its reactors’ positive void coefficient of reactivity, is a design flaw shared with the Chernobyl reactors.
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No Nuclear Reactors for Electricity

The author recognizes that implementing the described stringent international regulatory regime for nuclear power stations is extremely difficult and thus unlikely to be implemented. Therefore, anticipating unavoidable human error in the present regulatory and political environment, she opposes generation of electricity by nuclear reactors.

The basic fact underlying this summary of essentials:
Every nuclear reactor, wherever located, has a global presence

  • There are many nuclear reactors installed and operating all over the world
  • Today, there are plans for new nuclear power plants, in many global locations. The reasoning is either or both of (1) electricity is necessary to bring people out of poverty OR (2) nuclear power is an essential part of the mix of technologies for fighting climate change
  • The required foundation is a global agreement (treaty?) signed and ratified by ALL countries that have or plan to have nuclear reactors – for electricity generation, or for research

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Yes! Ontario can do Fine Without Nuclear Power

Dr. Gordon Edwards recently shared this relevant article by Dr. M. V. Ramana, who is Professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and the Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia and Xiao Wei, the MITACS Globalink Research Intern at the University of British Columbia:

The Conversation, January 5, 2020

As wind and solar energy have become cheaper, they’ve become a more prominent and important way to generate clean electricity in most parts of the world.

The Ontario government, on the other hand, is cancelling renewable energy projects at a reported cost of at least $230 million while reinforcing the province’s reliance on nuclear power via expensive reactor refurbishment plans.

As researchers who have examined the economics of electricity generation in Ontario and elsewhere, we argue that this decision is wasteful and ill-advised, and the unnecessary cost differential will rise further in the future.

One concern about renewables has been the intermittency of these energy sources. But studies have shown it’s feasible to have an all-renewable electric grid.

How to have an all-renewable electric grid

These feasibility studies, however, are always location specific. In that spirit, we have carried out detailed modelling and found that it’s possible to meet Ontario’s electricity demands throughout the year with just a combination of renewables, including hydropower, and storing electricity in batteries.
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We also found that dealing with the intermittency of wind and solar energy by adding batteries would be more economical than refurbishing nuclear plants in the foreseeable future, well before the current refurbishment projects are completed.

That’s because of the expected decline in the cost of batteries used to store the electricity during the hours when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining in order to supply electricity during the periods when they aren’t. The cost of different kinds of battery technologies, such as lithium-ion or flow batteries, have come down rapidly in recent years.


To explore the relative economics of nuclear and renewable energy, we constructed a very simple model that optimized the total cost of meeting the electricity demand in Ontario for each hour of the year.

We used what’s known in physics as a toy model. It’s not intended to be sufficiently accurate to reproduce reality in detail, but to capture the basic and important elements of the system being studied. Our model is not meant to actually calculate the cost of supplying electricity, but only to compare the relative costs of different options, with the condition that no fossil fuels be used.

Using a software program called pypsa, we started with an example that modelled a fully renewable electricity system for European countries, and then modified it significantly. Our target was Ontario’s hourly electricity demand in 2017, taken from the province’s Independent Electricity System Operator, known as the IESO.

We met this demand in two ways — batteries and refurbished nuclear plants. Both cases incorporated solar energy, wind energy and hydro power from existing dams. The base costs of solar and wind were taken from a November 2018 report by the Wall Street advisory firm Lazard; the prices have since declined.

For simplicity, we assumed that the variable costs of all these technologies were zero. This actually favours the nuclear scenarios because it ignores the cost of uranium fuel and radioactive waste disposal.

The availability factors for every hour of the year for the theoretical solar and wind generators were also based on data from the IESO on actual production of solar and wind energy in Ontario in 2017.

The maximum power available from large hydropower dams during any hour of the year was assumed to be less than 85 per cent of the installed capacity within Ontario of 9,065 megawatts; this is a conservative assumption since the province could easily import more hydropower from neighbouring Québec.

We ran a large number of scenarios with multiple cost and other assumptions and derived fairly robust results.

Essential results

In all scenarios, the bulk of the demand was met by solar and wind power, with a lower fraction met by hydropower. Even in the scenarios with no batteries, less than 20 per cent of the electricity demand was met by nuclear power.

Second, it would be cheaper to reduce this even further. Because of safety and other operational reasons, it’s a bad idea to change the outputs of nuclear plants quickly. Traditionally, reactor outputs have been held steady.

But if, for argument’s sake, we allow the outputs of nuclear reactors to go up and down as fast as needed by the grid, then our model predicts that nuclear power plants would be used even less. If nuclear power plants outputs are held steady, then they would supply more electricity, but the cost to consumers would also be higher.

Finally, and perhaps most consequentially, if the costs of batteries decline from current levels to those projected for 2025, then the cost of supplying electricity using a combination of renewables and battery storage would become cheaper than doing the same using nuclear power.

The cost of meeting the electricity needs for the province could be further reduced if the availability of hydropower is increased.

Our choice of 2025 for the projection year, incidentally, is guided by the fact that the current use of modern renewables in Ontario is low, and there will be no need for batteries to store electricity until there is a dramatic increase in the wind or solar power projects constructed. The levels of renewables that will require storage are unlikely to be reached before 2025.

In summary, our results show that for reasonable assumptions about future battery costs and the current price tag for solar and wind power, scenarios involving nuclear power are more than 20 per cent higher than the cheapest scenario involving only batteries, solar, wind and the current hydropower capacity.

If an extra 2,000 megawatts of hydropower capacity were to be available, scenarios involving nuclear power would be over 30 per cent more expensive.

That means, simply put, that nuclear power isn’t needed to meet Ontario’s electricity needs. And the absence of nuclear power won’t have any impact on emissions in Ontario’s energy sector.