A federal panel failed to complete the job of reviewing the environmental impact of new reactors at the Darlington nuclear station, four environmental groups have told a court.
As a result, no further permission should be granted toward letting the project continue until the panel finishes its job, the groups ask.
They’ve filed an application with federal court, seeking an order sending the issue back to the review panel. The panel filed a report in August, following several weeks of hearing last spring, allowing work on the reactors to proceed if certain conditions are met.
“The review of the environmental impacts of building new reactors at Darlington has ignored many of nuclear power’s risks and costs,” Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace told a news conference Thursday.
“It has also ignored consideration of safer and cheaper alternatives.”
Greenpeace has joined in the application with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch and the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
The federal panel, headed by former New Brunswick cabinet minister Allan Graham, held its hearings shortly after the nuclear crisis erupted at Japan’s Fukushima reactor following an earthquake and tsunami.
Those events unlined the “catastrophic risks” inherent in nuclear energy, said Stensil.
Richard Lindgren of the environmental law association said that Ontario Power Generation, which will run the reactors, doesn’t know who they’ll hire to build them, or what technology they’ll use.
“How can you meaningfully evaluate the environmental impact when you don’t know what the reactor is going to be?” he asked.
“You can’t deal with these kinds of issues in the abstract. You have to define with some precision what you want to do.”
Mark Mattson of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper said another issue is the cooling system the new reactors will use.
OPG wants to suck in cold lake water, circulate it once through the cooling system and then flush it back out into the lake. That warms the temperature of the water, and kills marine animals, said Mattson.
He has argued that the cooling system should be a closed loop, with the warmed water cooled in towers and re-used.
The groups don’t expect their case to come before the court until next year.
OPG wants to build at least two reactors of about 1,000 megawatts each at Darlington, to come into service about 2020. It’s in keeping with the province’s long term energy plan that says about half Ontario’s power should come from nuclear generators.