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Environmental review of Pickering B nuclear plant - December 10, 2008, (Ajax)

Environmental review of Pickering B nuclear plant overlooks serious threats Green Energy Better for the Environment than Rebuilding Pickering, environmental groups say

The federal nuclear regulator should not allow the Pickering B nuclear station to be rebuilt because the agency's badly flawed review does not assess the significant hazards the plant poses to the environment and the public, environmental groups told the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) today at its public hearing in Ajax.

The CNSC undermined the credibility of its environmental review by deciding to exclude key issues for assessing the environmental risks of continued operation of Pickering B, including: the management of radioactive wastes, the threats of significant nuclear accidents and terrorist attacks, greenhouse gas emissions caused by delays in rebuilding the station and the consideration of more environmentally friendly energy options. The hearing is in response to a request by Ontario Power Generation for permission to rebuild the ageing plant.

"The CNSC's claim that there are no environmental impacts from Pickering B is misleading because they haven't looked at them," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, an energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. "If the CNSC did its job properly and looked, it would find serious risks. The CNSC thinks it can protect Canadians from nuclear risks by not talking about them."

Mark Mattson of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper says Pickering B's operation is damaging Lake Ontario. "The Pickering nuclear station kills millions of fish every year, and no one is willing to upgrade the plant with modern technology to protect Lake Ontario. This kind of incomplete "environmental assessment" is indefensible," said Mattson.

In early 2009, Energy Minister George Simitherman will decide whether to rebuild Pickering B or close it. This decision will come at the same time as the completion of Smitherman's "Green Review" - a directive he gave to the Ontario Power Authority to find ways to enhance the contribution of green energy in Ontario. A decision to shut down Pickering B would provide an opportunity to replace the old nuclear station with equal power from new green sources.

Last month, environmental organizations published a report called Plugging Ontario Into A Green Future, that shows how Smitherman could meet his goal of expanding green power by replacing Pickering with green energy. The CNSC failed to consider more environmentally friendly options to rebuilding Pickering B in its environmental review.

"Rebuilding an outdated nuclear station is not worth the environmental risks when there are better options available," said Cherise Burda, Ontario Policy Director with the Pembina Institute. "Minister Smitherman should make a decision to shut down Pickering B and replace it with green power."

Dr. Michael Duguay, a professor in renewable energy technologies at the University of Laval, says Ontario must seize the opportunity provided by closing Pickering to create jobs in the green energy industry.

"Greening Ontario's infrastructure will create jobs," said Dr. Duguay, who holds a Ph.D in nuclear physics. "Pickering's closure also provides an opportunity to create clean-tech jobs by accelerating the decommissioning of the station.

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Information:

Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, 416-861-1237

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace, 416-884-7053

Dr. Michael Duguay, Professor, University of Laval, 418-802-2740

Cherise Burda, Ontario Policy Director, The Pembina Institute 416-644-1016

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