On the morning of Thursday, October 10, 2013, I found on the front step our copy of the Globe and Mail with the headline, “Ontario backs away from new nuclear plants: Fresh blow to industry looms, with sources saying province will not spend $10-billion on two reactors.“After I tweeted this story by Adam Radwanski of the Globe, Robert Benzie of the Toronto Star immediately tweeted his confirmation that he too had been given this information “it is indeed true“.
This story was widely reported throughout the day and after early reports quoting officials as “refusing to confirm“ this information, Minister Chiarelli was interviewed in a scrum, stating that new nuclear power will NOT be part of the next Long Term Energy Plan.
Minister Chiarelli was quoted in the Star story: “It is not wise to spend billions and billions of dollars in new nuclear when that power is not needed,” the minister said. “So this is a good decision for ratepayers and the people of Ontario.” CELA couldn`t agree more!
CELA encourages the Ontario government to put those reports into action and confirm these statements with firm decisions in coming weeks. In the province`s forthcoming Long Term Energy Plan the province should, as promised today, clearly delineate that there will be no new nuclear power plants built in Ontario. The province should also immediately cease all aspects of licensing and procurement in pursuit of building new nuclear.
On the question of refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant, the province should not make any firm commitments to that decision at this time since the province is currently in a position of excess supply, and other sources of power that are cheaper, safer, and more sustainable are growing rapidly. CELA provided submissions to the Ministry of Energy on its Long Term Energy Supply in August.
Back in 2005, when Ontario first announced plans for new nuclear plants, CELA and other organizations argued that there was no credible justification for the project. Unfortunately, the provincial government exempted the project from a provincial EA in a special regulation, and, in the end, never submitted a completed electricity plan to the Ontario Energy Board for a review. The federal process reviewing the new nuclear project did not consider the need for new nuclear either, saying that was up to provincial energy policy. In 2006, CELA called for provincial environmental assessment of the power system plan and its projects. In the end Ontario would have saved time and money if this project had been properly reviewed and rejected back in 2005 and 2006.
Now CELA not only encourages the Ontario government to proceed expeditiously with confirmation of its decision not to pursue new nuclear, but also strongly supports the Ontario government`s Conservation First strategy and notes that Ontario has barely begun to experience the demand reductions and conservation opportunities that are available. CELA`s comment on the Conservation First discussion paper was also submitted in August. The province`s electricity hierarchy should truly put conservation first as the current government has proposed, and as reported, shelve plans for future nuclear power.
Nuclear power is not only unsafe, and expensive, it also produces highly radioactive waste both from the used fuel and from the reactor building and equipment parts surrounding the fuel. Right now the folly of producing waste that will be highly toxic and radioactive, not only for generations to come, but for hundreds of thousands of years to come, is being explored in the fourth week of the Deep Geologic Repository Low and Intermediate Waste hearings before a Joint Review Panel in Port Elgin, Ontario. The webcast and transcripts for that hearing are currently available through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Ontario is on the verge of transformative decision making which will mark whether we move into a dynamic sustainable energy future, or whether we continue to be hampered by the expensive, inflexible, dangerous investments and commitments to nuclear power. We are highly encouraged by the news of the day and look forward to seeing this play out into reality in coming days and weeks.
For more information contact:
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel: firstname.lastname@example.org