New nuclear plants too little, too late at too high a price

News Release Greenpeace: March 7, 2008

Reactor negotiations should be scrutinized by auditor, says Greenpeace:

Toronto - None of the new nuclear reactors under consideration by the McGuinty government can be built fast enough to meet Ontario's looming electricity gap or stop dangerous climate change, says Greenpeace Canada in response to the McGuinty government's announcement that it would ask four companies to participate in a biding process to build new reactors in the province.

Greenpeace called the McGuinty government's commitment to building new nuclear stations a dangerous and expensive distraction from developing environmentally-friendly energy strategies that can address the province's looming electricity gap and global warming.

"No matter the design, new nuclear stations are too little, too late, at too high a price," says Shawn-Patrick Stensil, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. "They will never be the answer to Ontario's clean energy needs. The McGuinty government is pretending that new nuclear plants will phase out coal fired plants, but reactors can't be built in time and are just diverting government support from cleaner and more affordable energy options that can fill the looming electricity gap."

"Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, AREVA, GE Hitachi or Westinghouse? None of the above is a practical solution. It's time to rethink our energy strategy," said Stensil, referring to the companies that have been asked to place bids with the Ontario government.

Greenpeace said that given the high economic and environmental risks posed to Ontarians, any contract to buy a reactor design must be submitted to the Provincial Auditor General before it is signed. "Every nuclear construction project in Canada has been outrageously over budget. Before signing any contract to buy expensive nuclear reactors Ontarians deserve to have full disclosure of what they'll be paying for," said Stensil.

Stensil said a lesson should be learned from the government's recent contract to restart two reactors at the Bruce "A" nuclear station. After signing the deal behind closed doors in 2005, the McGuinty government submitted the contract to the provincial Auditor General for comment. In his report, the Auditor was critical of the deal, saying that it left Ontario rate-payers unnecessarily exposed to the financial risks of restarting the reactors. Last month, it was reported the project was $300 million over budget and that rate-payers would be liable for half the cost.

For more information, please contact:

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace Energy campaigner, (416) 884-7053

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