Singing No to Nuclear

Linda Slavin and Kate Chung at the Pickering nuclear plant hearings

Molly, Karen and Anita at Pickering














Granny Linda of the Peterborough Grannies and Granny Kate of the Toronto Grannies, above left, sing our message at the Pickering nuclear plant hearings on May 29, 2013.  Kate was one of the Intervenors in the morning, and Peterborough Granny Jo also made an Intervenor presentation in the afternoon.

Grannies Molly, Karen and Anita, above right, represented the Barrie And District Grannies.

Other Peterborough Grans were Noreen Holder, Jo Hayward Haines, Pat Ainsworth, and Carol Hooper.  You can see most of them in the photos below.

There was so much information at the Hearings it would make your head hurt.  For a good overview see the Toronto Star’s article at

Here are a few key points:

  • The Pickering Nuclear Plant’s operating licence expires June 30, 2013.  The original plan was for the plant to be wound down over the next few years, but Ontario Power Generation is seeking to keep it going until 2020 without any of the major overhaul this old plant needs.
  • How old is the plant?  Over 40 years old.  It’s the oldest nuclear plant in Canada, and not many plants anywhere in the world are much older.  It was not expected to be functional beyond 2010.
  • Pretty well all the issues brought before the Hearings on May 29 came down to safety.
  • If there was a serious accident at the plant, it’s possible that everyone within an 80 km radius would be evacuated.  This includes Niagara and St. Catharines, and Barrie and Peterborough, and of course all those other places 80 km from Pickering, which just happens to be the most densely populated area in Canada.
  • As Kate pointed out in her presentation, potassium iodide tablets can protect against thyroid cancer if taken as soon as possible after an nuclear accident.  In as little as four hours their efficacy drops to 50%.  In the event of a serious accident, we’re supposed to stay indoors.  So when do we go and get the pills?
  • The plan is to distribute potassium iodide tablets free, but has the public been informed?  Where can we get the tablets?  Kate was able to find only four pharmacies in Pickering that had them in stock, and some had no idea what she was talking about.  I wonder how many pharmacies in Barrie and Peterborough have them?

There was a great deal more.  Fuel waste disposal facilities that do not yet exist.  A vacuum building (safety feature) that can handle only one reactor failure; in the Fukushima accident, three adjacent reactors were damaged simultaneously.  A plant that is already past its best before date.  And on and on, too much for this short page.  Google will bring you loads of information.

But perhaps the sorriest fact that came up over and over again, is that it is almost impossible for people outside OPG to obtain the information needed to fully evaluate the state of the plant, the risks, and what needs to be done.  There were the usual excuses.  “The information is proprietary.  We need to make sure it doesn’t fall into the hands of terrorists.  We don’t want to cause public panic.”

Now there’s one that’s going to make everyone relax!

But to do nothing is to acquiesce, so the Raging Grannies of Barrie, Peterborough and Toronto went to Pickering on May 29, 2013 and made our views known in song, and in intelligent, well-researched presentations. Thank you Kate and Jo for speaking so well on behalf of all of us who are worried to bits about this.

Toronto, Barrie and Peterborough Grannies about to sing at Pickering

Here we are getting ready to sing in the hall :  Grannies Molly, Kate, Pat, Karen, Carol (hidden), Linda and Noreen

and preparing to sing outside :  Grannies Noreen, Carol, Karen, Kate and Linda 

Grannies relaxing after the morning Hearings session at Pickering