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Federal Court says no to new nuclear reactors on Lake Ontario

Photo: Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on Lake Ontario.

Photo: Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on Lake Ontario.

The proposal to build two new nuclear reactors on the north shore of Lake Ontario about 85 kilometres east of Toronto was dealt a setback today. The Globe and Mail reports, “A federal judge has invalidated Ontario Power Generation’s licence to build new reactors at its Darlington site, saying the federal regulator did not sufficiently consider the potential for a severe accident or waste issues involving spent fuel.”

The Council of Canadians extends our congratulations to our friends and allies at Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the groups that took this case to court.

The Canadian Press notes, “Ruling in a case brought by environmental groups, Justice James Russell says the environmental assessment for the proposed expansion of the Darlington nuclear plant fell short. Russell says the assessment should have examined the environmental effects of radioactive fuel waste, a Fukushima-type accident and hazardous emissions. As a result of the decision, the whole project is stalled until a panel can redo the assessment.”

This is significant because as the Toronto Star highlights, “The Liberal government’s latest version of its long-term energy plan, released last December, says Ontario does not need new nuclear units now but ‘continues to have the option’ to build them. The NDP opposes new nuclear units while the Conservative election platform says that with some reactors nearing the end of their lives ‘we must build new ones’.”

In September 2011, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, Greenpeace campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil and others wrote in the Toronto Star, “Nuclear power’s environmental impacts are well known. New reactors at Darlington will create radioactive waste that will threaten the environment and human health for millions of years. And, as the Fukushima disaster in Japan reminds us, new reactors will increase the risk of a catastrophic accident or potential terrorist attacks that have the potential to cause harm for generations to come.”

And our Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter through Safe and Green Energy (SAGE) intervened in the Joint Review Panel hearings on the proposed Darlington expansion in 2011. That panel was mandated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Chapter activist Roy Brady highlights, “Our chapter working through SAGE presented at these hearings and did much opposition to the project. In fact, we were funded CEAA intervenors.”

Low and intermediate level waste from the Darlington nuclear generating station is currently stored at a facility at the Bruce nuclear site on Lake Huron. The Council of Canadians has been opposing an Ontario Power Generation plan to construct a deep geologic repository for the long-term storage of this waste, which would be located within a kilometre of the shores of Lake Huron thus raising grave concerns about water contamination and the health and safety of the lakes.

The Council of Canadians rejects nuclear power because it poses an unacceptable risk to people and the environment. It is neither clean, safe, peaceful, nor economic.

Further reading
Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter opposes new nuclear reactors on Lake Ontario
‘Stop Darlington, choose green energy’, says Barlow