Darlington nuclear panel conclusions: 67 unaddressed issues threaten people, the environment, and Ontario’s economy

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Greenpeace and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper have asked federal environment minister Peter Kent to reconvene the panel responsible for reviewing Ontario Power Generation’s proposal to build new reactors at the Darlington nuclear site. The panel must continue to address flaws and omissions in their conclusions that could put Ontarians’ health and pocketbooks at risk.

In a letter sent yesterday to the minister, the groups outlined the flaws, errors and omissions in the panel’s analysis and their potential impact on the environment.

67 unaddressed issues threaten people, the environment, and Ontario’s economy

 

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“It’s only six months after the Fukushima disaster and Canada still hasn’t realized that nuclear power is both hazardous to our health and expensive,” said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil.

“Instead of considering safer and cheaper green energy options, we have conclusions in a report that are nothing more than a poorly educated guess that trivializes the potential effects on human and environmental health.”

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To most Ontarians, the Darlington station is associated with the massive cost overruns incurred during its construction. The initial cost estimate for the station was $3.9 billion CAD in the late 1970s, while the final cost was $14.4 billion CAD.

There are large gaps in information and analysis and a failure to gather the evidence necessary to assess possible environmental effects.

Despite OPG’s failure to determine which reactor design or cooling water technology it will use, the panel’s report concludes that significant adverse environmental effects from the project are unlikely.

Until the 67 gaps identified in the panel report are filled, the government should not allow the new nuclear project to go ahead.

“You can’t build an addition to your house without submitting detailed plans and yet we’re willing to build multiple nuclear reactors based on an assessment that neglected to identify key information about the project – information needed to determine whether people, fish and other aquatic species in Lake Ontario will be protected,” said Mark Mattson, President of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.

Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is a Canadian nuclear power station located on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Clarington, Ontario.

The facility derives its name from the Township of Darlington, the former name of the municipality in which it is located.

The Darlington station is a large nuclear facility and comprises 4 CANDU nuclear reactors located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, having a total output of 3,512 MWe (capacity net) when all units are online.

To most Ontarians, the Darlington station is associated with the massive cost overruns incurred during its construction. The initial cost estimate for the station was $3.9 billion CAD in the late 1970s, while the final cost was $14.4 billion CAD.

The project was adversely affected by declining electricity demand forecasts, mounting debt of Ontario Hydro, and the Chernobyl disaster which necessitated safety reviews in mid-construction.

A year-long period of public hearings and study by an Ontario government all-party committee finished in 1986 with the decision to proceed with the project, which had then risen to $7 billion in actual and committed costs.

OPG has also begun the process for building up to 4 new nuclear units at the site of its Darlington Nuclear Station. There is a lengthy approvals process in place including a full Environmental Assessment which will take 3–4 years to complete.

If successful, the new units would go into service sometime around 2018. No decision has been made on what technology will be used.

In June 2009, the government of Ontario rejected all three bids submitted, leaving the status of the new builds up in the air.

Waste

Low and intermediate level waste from Darlington is presently stored at the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce nuclear site near Kincardine, Ontario. OPG has proposed the construction and operation of a deep geologic repository for the long-term storage of this low and intermediate level waste on lands adjacent to WWMF. Pending approvals and licensing by regulatory agencies, the DGR would commence construction in 2013 and operation in 2018.

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