Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has submitted our official comments regarding the Darlington refurbishment project.
Ontario Power Generation [OPG] is seeking approval to refurbish the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant in Clarington, Ontario. Built in the 1980’s, OPG hopes to extend the plant’s life to 2055. OPG notified the CNSC of its intention to refurbish Darlington in April 2011 by providing a Project Description. The CNSC has determined that the environmental assessment should proceed as a Screening Report, unless it is referred by a Responsible Authority or the Minister of the Environment to a mediator or review panel.
The CNSC released a draft Scoping Document to the public on July 28th, 2011 and solicited public comments by August 22, 2011. Should the EA continue as a Screening, the CNSC expects OPG’s Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] by December 2011. Based on the EIS, the Responsible Authorities and Federal Authorities will prepare a Draft Screening Report during the spring of 2012. Public comments on the EA Screening Report will be solicited for 30 days in July 2012. A Commission hearing will take place on the Screening Report in November 2012. Should this process continue, Waterkeeper will participate whenever possible to ensure that the issues set out below are reflected in the decision.
The Darlington plant currently has a significant impact on the ecology of Lake Ontario through fish impingement and entrainment, thermal pollution, and the emission of a variety of contaminants (both radioactive and non-radioactive) to the lake.
The continuous, unauthorized destruction of fish and fish habitat by OPG at Darlington contravenes the federal Fisheries Act. Technology such as closed cycle cooling could drastically reduce the number of fish kills and amount of pollution emitted, yet OPG has taken no steps to upgrade the plant to comply with the law. OPG has no plans to upgrade technology at the site to modern standards, despite the opportunity to do so during the proposed refurbishment. The ongoing, serious harm to fish and fish habitat at the facility represent a clear significant adverse environmental effect.
The proposal should be denied outright because it will cause significant adverse environmental effects that will not be mitigated and cannot be justified.
Should the Responsible Authority believe the unmitigated adverse environmental effects can be justified, the proposed refurbishment and continued operation should be referred to a mediator or review panel. In addition to serious adverse environmental impacts, the continued operation of the plant poses considerable public concern that warrants reference to a mediator or review panel.