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Suzuki is more convincing than the nuclear industry

Re: Suzuki's nuclear remarks misleading (letter, Feb.22nd)

By: Janet Fraser

In this letter the writer states that Dr. David Suzuki's remarks during his recent talk in Hamilton, on the nuclear industry were based on inaccurate information and that nuclear reactors are safe and reliable. I was not present at the most recent Hamilton visit but I have heard Dr. Suzuki speak on several occasions and have read most of his books. As a supporter of the David Suzuki Foundation I have read many of their publications and have utmost respect for the man and his foundation. The first time I listened to David Suzuki speak, at the RBG in 1999, it was life changing for me. I began to research and read information about environmental issues like never before and I began to look at my decisions about how we live in a new light. It is understandable that anyone who works in the nuclear industry might feel threatened by Dr. Suzuki's concerns about itbecause he does have so much influence on those he speaks to. Simply put, I trust and believe what he says because it makes so much sense to me. I believe he has not only great intelligence but also wisdom and explains things in a very understandable way. I believe the work of his foundation is not for profit but for the greater good of mankind.

When Premier McGuinty "promised" to close all coal generating plants in Ontario, including Nanticoke, the largest polluter in North America, I had visions of Haldimand becoming a 'clean and green' community with wind turbines along the shores of Lake Erie, as well as other safe reliable and renewable energy projects. Perhaps Haldimand could become a leader in new technologies and conservation measures. The possibilities for new sustainable options to meet our energy needs are endless and very exciting.

I was absolutely taken aback when I read that government officials of Haldimand and Norfolk are considering allowing a nuclear facility to be built in Nanticoke. A close look at the nuclear option reveals that nuclear power is neither environmentally nor financially viable as an option to address concerns about greenhouse gas emissionsnot in Haldimand nor anywhere in Ontario. Nor does the creation of 1200 jobs for Haldimand justify the costs, and environmental risks.

There are many unresolved environmental problems such as what to do with the radioactive nuclear waste. With a radioactive half-life of 25,000 years it remains dangerous for 250,000 years. Is this the legacy we want to leave our children's children? Uranium mining itself is energy-intensive, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn contribute to global warming. Uranium mining operations have also been known to cause accidental contamination lakes and ground water threatening health of fish and local communities.

The Nuclear Industry claims to be safe, but leaks of hazardous materials have occurred in the past especially as the plants age. An accident such as what happened in Chernobyl, or an act of terrorism could occur. One might argue that the chances of this are very lowbut what are the odds-- one in a thousand, one in a hundred thousand? It does not matterthe risk is not worth taking simply because the consequences are far too grave. Southern Ontario, with the best agricultural land in Canada, and the most magnificent fresh water lakes on earth, as well as the greatest population in the country, seems to be a most inappropriate place to put a nuclear plant.

Nuclear energy is the most expensive way to produce electricity. The debt retirement charge on our hydro bill is a reminder of the huge debt (20 billion or so) which was left to the taxpayers by Ontario Hydro's nuclear plants. Why would the people of Ontario want to repeat the mistakes of the past?

It seems that all the claims that nuclear is clean, safe, reliable and affordable come from the nuclear industry itself. Recently, Sierra Legal Defense has filed a false advertising complaint on behalf of a coalition of environmental and citizens' groups, against the Canadian Nuclear Association for portraying the industry as clean, safe and affordable in their television commercials. To have an informed public it is necessary to obtain information from reliable sources other than the nuclear industry itself. The Pembina Institute has published a recent report entitled "Nuclear Power in Canada: An examination of Risks, Impacts and Sustainability". It can be downloaded from their web-site. I would hope that politicians who are about to make decisions, which will have an impact lasting for thousands of millennia, would take the time to read the 130-page report.

As an ordinary citizen who does not work in the nuclear industry who do I believe when I hear conflicting information? Do I listen to the nuclear industry itself, or do I listen to David Suzuki or a reputable Environmental Organization whose tireless work and research is for the greater public good and not for profit. The choice is clear to me, I am on the side of the environmentalists, simply because the message makes so much sense to meand because we cannot afford to ignore the message. Our children are worth it.

Janet Fraser

Cayuga, ON

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