Am I glowing?…Health and Durham Region’s Nuclear Power Generating Stations

Homer_poloniumClose your eyes and you can probably picture, Homer Simpson dropping a  green glowing rod into his pocket and heading for home.  If you are considering a move to Pickering, Ajax, or anywhere in Durham Region, someone is going to ask you, sooner or later, “when do you start to glow?”

Durham Region is home to two of Canada’s seven nuclear power generating stations.  TWO!  We must be glowing.

To ally fears, or fuel them (you be the judge), Durham Region Health Department released their results of their study of radiation and health.  They reviewed cancer rates and birth defects in Durham Region compared to demographically similar regions in southern Ontario.  Their conclusion:  we don’t think long term exposure to low levels of radiation has any effect.

Weeding through all the scientific literature, local health data and information on public radiation dose, the Health Department found very muddy water indeed.

The first fear we need to ally, is that living within 10 kilometres of either Pickering NGSPickering NGS or Darlington NGS does not expose you to more radiation than if you flew to Florida a couple of times each year.  In fact, the OPG monitors radiation levels so closely in this area that they know that you are actually exposed to less.  Really, baring a Chernobyl-like disaster, it is not the short term exposure to radiation, like having a chest x-ray that concerns us.  It is the long term effects of raising a family here that has been investigated.

When compared with Halton and Simcoe Region, the incidence of cancers and birth defects can not be conclusively related to living beside the Pickering Power Plant.  Looking at the historical data, there are too many confounding factors like smoking, socio-economic status and migration that muddy the results.

Is it safe to raise your family with a view of Pickering or Darlington NGS?  The Durham Region Health Department says yes.  As safe as living on a farm in Tavistock or Caledonia.  I know that I don’t glow yet.