This week, more information surfaced about Ontario's intention to approve building new nuclear plants on Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. The plan is intended to keep Ontario a world leader in nuclear power production. But the plan is also a huge gamble with enormous risks to the environment and the economy. Before a final decision is made on the number and location of the reactors, provincial laws that provide for an independent public assessment of the need and alternatives to nuclear power should be undertaken.
Canada's experience with uranium mining and processing has been a dark and murky failure. No amount of positive spin can erase the billions in lost funds, wasted rivers and lakes, divided communities and gutted utilities. Nuclear power has been a grand mistake for many.
If there are new facts or improved scientific thinking that Ontario is counting on to turn the industry around, then we should hear about it. But so far, all we have are public relations campaigns by federal and provincial corporations who manufacture, own and operate nuclear reactors. These proponents are attempting to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse by saying everything will be different this time round. We are being asked to trust that nuclear power will be cleaner and more economical, radioactive mine tailings will be better managed, waste will be safely stored for decades and continuing tritium discharges into the Great Lakes won't hurt us. The message is: Ontario can manufacture a clean, green, nuclear future.
Environmental assessments are enshrined in Ontario's law to ensure public, transparent decision making trumps lobbying and money. We shouldn't rely on advertisements during television shows and at baseball games to make important public decisions. Our environmental laws and processes are there to help us find the truth.