Nuke new reactors

JEFF BRACKETT - March 28, 2008

Re "Darlington expansion public meeting April 24"

As if new nuclear is a forgone conclusion, Patrick McNeil, a senior VP for Ontario Power Generation, is promoting Darlington as a preferred site for new reactors. Yet a report on the opposite page shows widespread public concern over uranium mining and the jailing of persons opposed. Before Darlington or Bruce can be the preferred location, nuclear power must be the preferred option, and clearly with the people, it is not.

Mr. McNeil says Darlington is a good site because it has the space, it's on the grid, has community support, has a track record, and has skilled workers. He's right on two counts: it has the space and it's on the transmission corridor.

Unfortunately its track record includes obscene cost overruns, tritium pollution and serious equipment failures.

As for community support, from the 1970s locals have been raising concerns. Two years ago when the government of Ontario held a public meeting in Oshawa almost 200 people showed up, the vast majority voicing opposition to new nuclear reactors. MPP Jeff Leal was there to witness this, and as I told him that night, it is hugely significant that in Durham Region, arguably the nuclear capital of the world, people are clearly and overwhelmingly opposed to the expansion of nuclear power.

Finally, the availability of skilled and experienced staff is a serious problem at Darlington. The station faces a retirement crunch over the next five years. The Annual CNSC Staff Report for 2006 on the Safety Performance of the Canadian Nuclear Power Industry (June 2007), says OPG had committed to ensuring safety by having an authorized nuclear operator at the Darlington reactor control panel at all times. OPG conveyed to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that staffing commitments would be met by July 31, 2009. Is there a problem here?

Even CNSC staff have concerns about siting new reactors at Darlington due to major population areas beginning to encroach on the site. Nuclear power needs a rethink and it's up to us to do it.

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