Not everyone thrilled with new nuclear news

Jennifer Stone - Jun 18, 2008

CLARINGTON -- Not everyone is thrilled with the news the Province has selected Darlington as the site for two new nuclear reactors.

That decision, coupled with an announcement about the plan to either refurbish or replace reactors at the Bruce Nuclear plant, points to the Province's intention to use nuclear as its major power source in coming years. That's a bad idea, said Greenpeace's Shawn-Patrick Stensil.

"What the government should have done, should be doing, is it should be looking at a gamut of other options to fill that gap (in energy production) which are clean and quick and cheaper to deploy," he said.

Many renewables can be deployed quite quickly and there are ways to have more localized power production, Mr. Stensil said, pointing to the fact 80,000 homes a year are built in the GTA.

"One thing we do very badly in Ontario is that we get more of our energy from a few centralized plants," he said. Instead, smaller energy and district heating systems could be deployed as quickly as home construction occurs, at a neighbourhood level.

Nuclear has a number of problems, Mr. Stensil said. Not only is there the potential for accident, but waste disposal remains an issue.

"The radioactive waste problem isn't resolved," Mr. Stensil said. "They built the first generation of reactors without any idea of where and how we would deal with that waste over the next million years."

The other issue is cost, he said.

"The Province has its head in the sand about recent developments with regard to nuclear plants," Mr. Stensil said, pointing to plants under construction elsewhere in the world which have experienced schedule and cost overruns. "Cost estimates have increased greatly since two years ago, when the Province published its plan."

Ontario is already stuck with a "huge legacy of debt" as a result of cost overruns at Darlington A, Mr. Stensil said.

"Now we're seeing the same skyrocketing of costs with this generation of reactors and the shovel isn't even in the ground."

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