Ontario Power Generation is asking the Ministry of the Environment to approve the release of contaminants to the air at the energy company’s Darlington Nuclear Power Plant. The deadline for public comment was July 30, 2009, and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper wrote to express concerns about the proposal.
OPG is asking to renew its licence, saying that the plant will continue to pump contaminants into the atmosphere. The information contained in OPG’s licencing documents contradicts the public claims of the industry’s biggest lobbyists at the Canadian Nuclear Association:
Nuclear energy is clean. It’s North America’s largest source of emissions-free energy, which means it emits no pollutants into the air.
OPG’s Certificate of Approval proves this statement false. According to Annual Reports contained in the ﬁle, the Darlington nuclear facility emits numerous pollutants. Between 2006 and 2009, OPG released contaminants into the community that meant air quality for certain pollutants was near or at the level where human health impacts might occur - the Point of Impingement, or “POI”:
2007: Nitrogen Oxides
2008 ammonia, calcium ﬂuoride, hydrazine, morpholine, nitrogen oxides, potassium chloride, potassium silicate, sodium borate decahydrate, and tungsten.
What’s more, OPG’s proposal suggests the facility will continue to emit pollutants into the air in the future, including: ammonia, hydrazine, morpholine, and nitrogen oxides. The major contaminant of concern appears to be hydrazine, a highly toxic neurotoxin affecting the liver and kidneys.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s comment suggests that granting OPG’s request without stricter limits on air pollution would be an abdication of responsibility on the part of the Ministry of the Environment. Air quality criteria are established in order to protect human health. It seems unreasonable to weaken air quality criteria because an industrial facility is unable to guarantee its emissions will not impact human health or the natural environment.
The comment also raises ongoing concerns about the public consultation process that are unrelated to OPG’s specific proposal.