The future of a proposed nuclear plant at the Darlington nuclear site is unclear. Two weeks ago, Ontario’s Minister of Energy George Smitherman pulled the plug on nuclear expansion. He suggested that a bid to build the reactors from AECL was “billions” of dollars too high.
Meanwhile, the federal government is going ahead with the environmental assessment and licencing process for up to four new nuclear reactors. These reactors would be built beside the existing Darlington Nuclear Facility, just east of Toronto on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is conducting the environmental assessment and the licencing processes at the same time. Once they are complete, the federal government’s regulatory process is essentially over.
Just in case Ontario’s hesitation is short-lived, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is eager to remain active in the new nuclear planning process. Few projects have the potential to impact swimmability, drinkability, and fishability of Lake Ontario as dramatically as this new nuclear power station. That means the federal process may be the only chance we have to study and prevent the kinds of environmental impacts that came with the first generation of nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario:
- The cooling water system at the Pickering nuclear generating station, for example, contributes to the deaths of millions of fish each year by trapping fish and destroying fish eggs in its cooling system. The hot water discharged from the plant into Lake Ontario disrupts fish habitat, encourages the growth of algae, reduces drinking water supply quality, and impedes swimming and boating. Our experts can help design cooling water systems that would better protect Lake Ontario.
- Our consultants can also help design fish habitat programs that will improve the area and land use plans that will better protect groundwater.
- As always, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will keep an eye on the regulatory process. A project as big as the Darlington Nuclear New Build requires fairness, transparency, and a commitment to science.
LOW submitted its Darlington nuclear project funding request today to the CNSC. We hope to provide the fish, water, and procedural insight needed to truly protect Lake Ontario. We also hope that other individuals and organizations will receive the support they need to consider other issues that are important to the community: economic impacts, worker health and safety, emergency security, air quality effects, land use planning, and so on.
If the Darlington Nuclear plant moves foward, we are at the beginning of an intense study process. If the plant plan stalls, at the very least our research and information can be used to benefit other communities surrounding the Bruce and Nanticoke nuclear plants.
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
What's the fallout from the decision to shelve plans for a new nuclear plant on the shores of Lake Ontario? This week on Living at the Barricades, we'll speak with Greenpeace Canada energy expert Shawn Patrick Stensil about a future without nuclear technology.
Music on this week's show:
Common Disaster - Cowboy Junkies
Natural Disaster - Joel Plaskett
Nautical Disaster (Live) - The Tragically Hip