Waterkeeper & Gord Downie submit First Round of Comments on proposed New Nuclear Power Plant at Darlington
On October 8th, 2010, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Gord Downie [collectively, Waterkeeper] submitted a detailed comment to the three-person panel that is currently evaluating Ontario Power Generation’s plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Clarington, approximately 60 km east of Toronto. Using scientific reports commissioned by Waterkeeper, this submission addresses the potential impacts of the proposed Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Ontario.
OPG’s proposal is undergoing a federal environmental assessment. Waterkeeper received funding from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to participate in Phase One of the EA back in 2008. You can read our reports and findings from that phase here.
Based on the value of that first contribution, Waterkeeper received additional funding from CEAA to participate in Phase Two. We are using that funding to review the project with the assistance of experts on hydrogeology, industrial cooling water, fish habitat, and aquatic biology. We submitted 34 Interrogatories (technical questions) to the Panel in June. Our October 8th submission is Waterkeeper’s initial report to the Joint Review Panel in Phase Two.
Waterkeeper’s main concerns with the proposal involve cooling water, lake infill, hydrogeology, and navigation. Based on the preliminary findings of our expert consultants, we conclude that OPG’s preferred once-through cooling water option would have the most damaging impact on the lake of any of the alternatives. We submit that the proposed infilling of 40 hectares of Lake Ontario has not been adequately justified and alternatives have not been sufficiently considered in the EIS. We highlight missing information that is important for a fulsome hydrogeological review. We note that navigation restrictions and their impact on recreational boaters have not been thoroughly considered.
For an animation comparing once-through cooling systems to closed cycle cooling systems, click here.
In addition to these substantive concerns, Waterkeeper has serious procedural concerns regarding the incomplete and premature EIS, and the uncertainty that characterized the public comment period. Waterkeeper submitted that the EIS is incomplete and cannot form the basis for a valid environmental assessment decision. We recommended that the panel suspend this EA process until both a reactor technology and cooling water system are selected by OPG. At such time, a new six-month public comment period and participant funding program should be initiated.