Letter writers don't believe nuclear power is a viable option for Ontario.

TORONTO STAR: YVONNE BERG - October 02, 2010

Re: Nuclear deserves a place in Ontario’s power mix, Opinion, Sept. 28

The president of the Canadian Nuclear Association makes the claim that nuclear is clean, but gives no facts to back it up. That could be because the facts clearly show the opposite is true. Each year nuclear power production in Canada creates 575,000 tonnes of toxic uranium tailings, 85,000 highly radioactive waste fuel bundles and a minimum of 840,000 tonnes of C02, with dire effects on the air we breathe and the water we drink (see Clearing the Air about Nuclear Power, Pembina Institute).

The facts also show that nuclear power is neither reliable nor affordable. When the Canadian Nuclear Association defends nuclear energy, it is important to realize who is speaking: an industry lobby group seeking to keep taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power flowing. I would rather rely on information from groups of citizens and experts concerned about the state of our environment and our health.

Rena Ginsberg, Toronto

Denise Carpenter makes a strong case against nuclear. Her article clearly shows that nuclear in Canada is a government make-work project. The federal government makes and subsidizes the reactors while the provincial governments buy them but do not charge their true cost. The stranded debt in our hydro bills is a result of not paying the true cost of nuclear.

We can’t afford nuclear. It is simply too expensive if we are to pay the true cost through our electricity rates. It is not safe as nuclear plants emit radiation. Nuclear reactors are not reliable as they are out of service for years at a time and coal had to be used as a replacement. Carpenter makes her most outrageous claim when she says nuclear is renewable.

Wolfe Erlichman, President, Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium, Godfrey, Ont.

The debate is on: will it be nuclear or wind? Meanwhile, the Ontario government is commissioning some two dozen private natural gas plants that don’t seem to be open for discussion.

Here’s an idea: Bring a few dozen drilling rigs in from Alberta, fire up the steel plants in Hamilton and put local drillers to work converting all those gas plants (and coal plants, too) to geothermal electricity plants that are clean and green and cheaper than nuclear or wind. While being suitable for base-load, they are also flexible for peaking, i.e., when you want it, yet with no decommissioning worries and no fuel to buy.

Bill Livingstone, Etobicoke

First they said it would be too cheap to meter, and it’s turned out to be more expensive than almost all other forms of generation. When you factor in ballooning costs of overruns, security, decommissioning and waste, nuclear just can’t compete without massive subsidies.

Then they said it would help solve climate change. But the nuclear fuel cycle releases CO2 during mining, fuel enrichment, plant construction and decommissioning. With its high cost and long construction time, nuclear power does not offer a viable solution to climate change.

Angela Bischoff, Greenspiration, Toronto

Repeatedly calling nuclear power “clean” – or “emission-free” as the McGuinty government likes to do – doesn’t make it so.

The truth is that every stage of the nuclear power cycle is toxic, risky and polluting — from the mining of uranium, to the ongoing emissions of tritium into drinking water, to the risk of accident, to the unsolved challenge of isolating radioactive waste for thousands of years.

Before tens of billions of dollars are spent building and refurbishing nuclear reactors, we need an open public dialogue on the future role of nuclear energy in Ontario.

Peter Tabuns, MPP, NDP Energy and Environment Critic, Queen’s Park

Nuclear power advocate Denise Carpenter calls nuclear reactors a renewable source of energy. According to the International Energy Agency however, renewables are “derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly” and do not include nuclear power. The uranium that fuels reactors is finite and depletable just as fossil fuels are.

Candu reactors have been a financial disaster for Ontario and New Brunswick for the many decades the industry has enjoyed extensive subsidies. It is time to phase it out in an orderly way in favour of far less costly energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy sources.

Kai Millyard, Toronto