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Nuclear Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Nuclear Safety and Emergency Preparedness

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An illustration of a nuclear power plant with the words "Preparedness = Power"

Emergency preparedness at OPG

OPG's first responsibility is to ensure that our nuclear reactors are operated and maintained in such a way that accidents won’t happen. Our nuclear stations are designed and operated in accordance with strict safety standards and regulatory requirements to ensure that station personnel, members of the public, and the surrounding environment are protected from the effects of any unlikely, abnormal events. If an accident does occur, our responsibility is to make sure it's controlled and any radiation releases are minimized.

Since it is not possible to guarantee that abnormal events will never occur, we are responsible for developing and maintaining an emergency plan and an emergency response organization to implement that plan. We ensure emergency responses to many scenarios are tested on a regular basis.

We expect that our staff and the plant’s safety systems will always safely shut down our nuclear reactors long before a serious accident ever happens. In these instances, there is unlikely to be any impact to the public requiring emergency notifications.

What happens if there is a nuclear emergency?

In the unlikely event of a serious nuclear accident, a radioactive release may occur. This release would take the form of a vapour cloud – not an explosion. OPG would notify the provincial and municipal governments about the severity of the issue within the first 15 minutes. Provincial and/or regional officials would then notify the public of any actions they need to take through a combination of warning sirens (within 3 km), automated phone calls to landlines (within 10 km), plus widespread television, radio, online and social media, and the National Public Alerting System

Everyone has a role to play

Province of Ontario
Emergency Management Ontario, an agency of the provincial government, is responsible for public safety during nuclear emergencies. This agency administers the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan and has overall responsibility for managing the off-site response to nuclear emergencies. If a nuclear emergency were to take place, the provincial government would determine the appropriate level of public action.

Region of Durham
The Region of Durham, through the Durham Emergency Management Office, and the local municipalities all have emergency plans in place to implement the provincial plan. Importantly, it is their emergency responders, police, fire and ambulance crews who make sure the emergency plans are implemented properly.

Residents near nuclear facilities are responsible for being informed, and knowing what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency. If an emergency were to occur, the province will alert people through a combination of sirens, automated telephone messages and radio, television and social media alerts in your area.

If you hear sirens, follow three simple steps:

  • GO – inside and turn on your television or radio.
  • LISTEN – to the media reports.
  • FOLLOW – instructions from the province.

As in any emergency, residents should remember to stay calm and don't take action, such as evacuate the area, unless advised to do so by authorities.

KI Pills and Emergency Awareness Kits

While the chance of a severe nuclear emergency is extremely remote, being prepared in advance and knowing what actions to take can better protect your personal safety.

Potassium iodide (KI) pills are a key component to keeping you and your family safe. All homes and businesses within 10 km of nuclear facilities are encouraged to have KI pills on hand. Anyone within 50 km of nuclear facilities is welcome to order KI pills for delivery.

In addition, we – along with our partners at Durham Region, the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario – put together an Emergency Awareness Kit containing an updated nuclear safety brochure, a pen light and an emergency checklist magnet. All are contained in a durable folio box, which has room to conveniently store your KI pills.

In 2017, these Emergency Awareness Kit were mailed out to all residents and businesses within a 10 km radius of both the Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations.

If you did not receive your kit, please contact:

Lorraine McGratten

Emergency Management Plans