What is Bruce Power so afraid of?

The nuclear industry likes to claim that it provides a great deal for the people of Ontario. So why is Bruce Power so afraid of letting us know what the cost of power will be from the reactors it wants to spend billions of dollars re-building?

In mid-May, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario ordered the Government of Ontario to provide the Ontario Clean Air Alliance with a forecast of how much the price of Bruce Power’s nuclear electricity will increase during each year from now until 2064.  You’d think Bruce Power would be delighted to reveal what a bargain it is providing Ontario’s electricity consumers, given all its advertising about its sensational product.   Instead, it is appealing the Commissioner’s decision and fighting tooth and nail to keep its future prices secret.  

If Bruce Power has such a great deal to offer the people of Ontario, it should be happy to make all the details public, just as renewable energy suppliers do.  Even Ontario Power Generation (OPG) provides details on its future prices.  Of course, OPG’s story isn’t a good one for the nuclear industry, with prices doubling thanks to its Darlington rebuild project.  

Bruce Power should drop its appeal and come clean on the future price increases for its nuclear energy

Please pass this message on to your friends.

There’s a better way to balance Ontario’s budget

The Ford government has been busy slashing spending on everything from public health to class sizes to energy conservation programs. In all, its reductions to date add up to at least $1.8 billion.

Meanwhile, it will borrow $4.3 billion per year to continue the previous government’s artificial subsidy of electricity prices.

Is this the best way to balance the province’s books?

Our new factsheet compares the government’s cuts to what it could save by making a deal with Quebec for low-cost water power.

We calculate that by using low-cost Quebec water power instead of spending billions rebuilding old nuclear plants, the government could save up to $3.7 billion per year. That’s a lot of daycare spaces secured, school roofs fixed and art programs saved.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault has made no secret of the fact that he would love to make a deal with Ontario to sell it some of his province’s huge surplus of low-cost power. So why is the Ford government so determined to slash spending on everything but bloated nuclear projects?

If you think the Ontario Government needs to get its budget priorities straight, please contact the Premier and tell him to focus on the real savings – Quebec water power to replace Ontario’s high-cost nuclear sector.

Email: doug.ford@pc.ola.org; phone 416-325-1941; cell 416-805-2156. (And please cc me: angela@cleanairalliance.org.)

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

The 2019 Ontario Budget: Does it really protect what matters most?

According to Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, his provincial budget protects “what matters most to Ontario individuals, families and businesses.” But is this really true?

The Government of Ontario is proposing to reduce spending on public health, education, social, environmental and energy conservation programs by approximately $1.9 billion per year, while continuing to borrow $4.3 billion per year to subsidize electricity costs.  A much more sensible solution would be for the government to make a deal with Quebec to import low-cost water power, which would save us up to $3.7 billion per year.  There is no need to cut the programs Ontarians depend upon — as our factsheet explains, we can cut electricity costs instead.

Sign our petition calling on the Ford Government to cut electricity costs instead of public services.

 

 

Premier Ford: Cut my bill!

Premier Ford has pledged to cut our hydro bills by 12%. Here’s how he can do it: Buy low-cost water power from our neighbours in Quebec.

Quebec has a huge power surplus and is eager to sell more electricity to Ontario. In fact, it has offered to sell us lots of electricity at less than one-third the price of re-building the aging Darlington Nuclear Station. The difference is billions of dollars.

Ontario Power Generation says it will need to double its price of nuclear electricity to pay for the Darlington re-build. Fast-rising nuclear power costs mean higher bills for all power users in Ontario.

If we make a deal with Quebec, we can lower our electricity prices instead of seeing our power bills go through the roof.

Premier Ford, lower our hydro bills by 12% by making a deal for low-cost water power from Quebec.

Please sign the petition in the box below.  You can add your own comments by clicking on the “Read the Petition” link and editing the message.

Making a deal with Quebec is the smart power option

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3,464 signatures

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Signatures
3,464 Diane Gordon Toronto Jun 26, 2019
3,463 Jozsef Zerczi Markham Jun 24, 2019
3,462 Joseph Zaj North York Jun 21, 2019
3,461 Eugene Sokolov Thornhill Jun 21, 2019
3,460 Leonard Desroches Toronto Jun 21, 2019
3,459 Nancy Sun North York Jun 20, 2019
3,458 Adele Armin Scarborough Jun 20, 2019
3,457 Laxman Menghani Etobicoke Jun 20, 2019
3,456 Adrian Sheepers Toronto Jun 19, 2019
3,455 Eliot Feenstra Toronto Jun 19, 2019
3,454 Michael THOMAS Ottawa Jun 19, 2019
3,453 Anna Chubukova Etobicoke Jun 19, 2019
3,452 Darshan Ajimal Toronto Jun 18, 2019
3,451 Lois Higgins Mississauga Jun 18, 2019
3,450 Gayle Brown-Hutchins Willowdale Jun 17, 2019
3,449 Genevieve Daigle North York Jun 17, 2019 Please lower my hydro bill by 12% by making a deal with Quebec for low-cost water power. Water Electricity is a renewable resource and Safe. Will leave in the same country, why not helping each other...
3,448 Mary Santangelo North York Jun 17, 2019
3,447 SUSIE RISI TORONTO Jun 16, 2019
3,446 NIKITIN NATALIA Toronto Jun 15, 2019
3,445 KONSTANTIN NIKITIN Toronto Jun 15, 2019
3,444 Scott Yaphe Toronto Jun 15, 2019
3,443 gurcharan chahal etobicoke Jun 15, 2019
3,442 tom chen north york Jun 14, 2019
3,441 Mike Anderson Toronto Jun 14, 2019
3,440 Nancy Campbell Toronto Jun 14, 2019
3,439 David Baigent Burlington Jun 14, 2019
3,438 Jose Macias Toronto Jun 13, 2019
3,437 Gary Burrows Toronto Jun 12, 2019
3,436 Gwen Lannaman Jun 12, 2019
3,435 Mike Dicks Etobicoke Jun 12, 2019
3,434 Mehdi Tahuri Richmond Hill Jun 12, 2019
3,433 Jana Kleer Toronto Jun 11, 2019
3,432 Axel Kleer Toronto Jun 11, 2019
3,431 Jairam Ramroop Toronto Jun 11, 2019
3,430 Paul Imperiale Toronto Jun 08, 2019
3,429 Denny Del Core toronto Jun 07, 2019
3,428 Maria Omandam Toronto Jun 07, 2019
3,427 MARIO DELROSARIO Etobicoke Jun 06, 2019
3,426 Wendy Gutierrez Toronto Jun 06, 2019
3,425 Hugo Gutierrez Toronto Jun 06, 2019
3,424 Kristine Paringit Etobicoke Jun 06, 2019
3,423 Jorge Jara Toronto Jun 06, 2019
3,422 Domenic Tropea Etobicoke Jun 06, 2019
3,421 Gerald Brens Markham Jun 03, 2019
3,420 Sandra Secord King city Jun 02, 2019
3,419 Kevin Adamson Embrun May 31, 2019
3,418 Gerald Joslin Hamilton May 31, 2019
3,417 Paul Chenard Embrun May 30, 2019
3,416 Sam Sabat Toronto May 30, 2019
3,415 Nancie Drouin Woodbridge May 30, 2019
3,414 KRYSTOF SLONIEC NEWMARKET May 30, 2019
3,413 Christine Gonnermann Peterborough May 30, 2019
3,412 l Segatti Elora May 29, 2019
3,411 Surinder Mander Etobieko May 29, 2019
3,410 Cyril Mitchell Etobicoke May 27, 2019
3,409 Louis Dias Etobicoke May 27, 2019
3,408 Clara Alvarez Etobicoke May 27, 2019
3,407 Kuldip Dhillon Toronto May 27, 2019
3,406 tarlochan dhillon Toronto May 27, 2019
3,405 shiraz Masroor Markham May 27, 2019
3,404 Mohamed Masroor Markham May 27, 2019
3,403 Mike Walker Guelph May 24, 2019
3,402 Rod Edmonds Thedford May 23, 2019
3,401 Darryl Hutton Coldwater May 22, 2019
3,400 ANDREA FERRIER Toronto May 21, 2019
3,399 Gloria Bull Toronto May 21, 2019
3,398 Peter Kostiw midland May 20, 2019
3,397 bernard lavers Monkton May 20, 2019
3,396 Kevin Tsoi May 20, 2019
3,395 Veronica Feihl Toronto May 20, 2019
3,394 Karine Baser Toronto May 20, 2019
3,393 Karen Nygard London May 20, 2019
3,392 Asad Chaudhari Etobicoke May 19, 2019
3,391 Ada Wang Etobicoke May 18, 2019
3,390 Lory Gauthier Newmarket May 18, 2019
3,389 Eugene Gauthier Newmarket May 18, 2019
3,388 William Henderson Petawawa May 17, 2019
3,387 S Church King City May 17, 2019
3,386 An Tran ETOBICOKE May 16, 2019
3,385 JACK PATEL Toronto May 16, 2019
3,384 J. Richter Mississauga May 15, 2019
3,383 Janie Clayton North Bay May 15, 2019
3,382 Renato Pardo Kitchener May 15, 2019
3,381 Nimesh Shah Toronto May 14, 2019
3,380 Jeff Bratt Kitchener May 14, 2019
3,379 Helen Dufton Mississauga May 14, 2019
3,378 niral fernando etobicoke May 13, 2019
3,377 SIYKA GUERDJIKOVA ETOBICOKE May 13, 2019
3,376 BORIS GUERDJIKOV ETOBICOKE May 13, 2019
3,375 Etiosa Igbinakenzua Toronto May 13, 2019
3,374 Rakesh Sharma Toronto May 13, 2019
3,373 Nick Marchese Toronto May 12, 2019
3,372 Paul Bischoff Toronto May 12, 2019
3,371 Ashley Cecavac Toronto May 12, 2019
3,370 John Baumann Toronto May 12, 2019
3,369 Catherine Bond Caledonia May 12, 2019
3,368 Ken Nash Pickering May 12, 2019
3,367 Greg Heipel May 12, 2019
3,366 Eleonora Valvasori Toronto May 11, 2019
3,365 Stella Anderson Mississauga May 11, 2019

Don’t think about the nuclear elephant

Doug Ford wants you to think about what the federal carbon tax is costing you — even though it will not actually cost 70% of Ontario’s families anything – and not about his failure to deliver on his promise to reduce electricity costs.

In its electricity plan released in March, the Ford government essentially admitted that it could not deliver on the Premier’s promise to reduce electricity costs by 12% while proceeding with high-cost, high-risk nuclear rebuild projects.

Tell Premier Ford to make a deal with QuebecThat’s why we are once again reminding the Premier that he can keep his promise by making a deal with Quebec to import low-cost water power. Today we’re starting to air radio ads on Barrie radio stations Rock 95 and 107.5 KoolFM calling on the Premier to save Ontarians money by making a deal with Quebec. Please click here to listen to our radio ads.

Instead of printing stickers, redesigning licence plates and generally trying to distract Ontarians from his failure to keep a major cost-saving promise, the Premier should sit down with Quebec Premier Legault and get a deal done.

You can help us stop the Premier from changing the channel by making a donation to support our radio ads, billboards and pamphlets (our volunteers are distributing these leaflets throughout Doug Ford’s riding).

And please sign our petition asking Premier Ford to cut your electricity bill by 12% by doing a deal with Quebec.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

Ford Government gets it backwards on energy cost savings

The Ford Government is ending a number of valuable energy conservation programs – particularly those that help homeowners – with a claim that Ontarians don’t need help to save energy.

It says it will save on costs by axing things like incentives for higher efficiency lighting, furnaces and air conditioners. But what it fails to note is that Ontario’s conservation programs have the lowest costs of any option for meeting our energy needs – just 1.7 cents per kWh. Eliminating these programs and the energy savings they generate will just require greater reliance on high-cost nuclear plants, where the cost per kWh will hit 16.5 cents per kWh by 2025.

These actions will hurt consumers without leading to any decrease in electricity costs because energy efficiency is the lowest cost way to meet our energy needs and Ontario’s programs are highly cost effective, generating about $2.50 in savings for every $1 spent.

If the Ford Government is serious about cutting bills it needs to focus on what is really driving up rates – the enormous cost of rebuilding aging nuclear reactors. It could deliver real savings to all Ontario electricity users by closing these dinosaurs and making a deal with Quebec to import low-cost water power. Quebec has repeatedly offered Ontario power at less than one-third the price of electricity from rebuilt nuclear reactors.

Tell your MPP that it makes no sense to take away valuable assistance from consumers while throwing money at bloated nuclear projects.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

 

Etobicoke Campaign to persuade Premier Ford to lower hydro costs starts today

 

Today we are launching our Etobicoke Campaign to persuade Premier Ford to keep his promise to lower your hydro bills by 12%. He can do it by signing a deal with Quebec.

Quebec has a huge surplus off low-cost water power which can keep your lights on at less than 1/3rd the cost of re-building the Darlington Nuclear Station.

We’re taking the message about these huge potential savings to Premier Ford’s backyard in Etobicoke. We’ve already posted a billboard on Kipling Ave, south of Bethridge Road, and will soon be distributing our Cut My Bill pamphlets there as well.

What you can do to lower your hydro bills:

1. Ask Premier Ford to keep his promise to cut your bills by signing our CutMyBill.ca petition.

2. Please contact me at Angela@CleanAirAlliance.org if you can help us distribute our “Cut My Hydro Bill!” pamphlet in Etobicoke.

3. Make a donation to support our campaign to lower your hydro bills.

4. Pass this message on to your friends, neighbours and co-workers.

Thank you!

Angela Bischoff, Director

IESO takes major step to lower Ontario’s electricity bills

On February 1st, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) asked Hydro One to upgrade its transmission system to permit Ontario to buy large quantities of low-cost water power from Quebec.

Specifically, the IESO has asked Hydro One to increase its import capability by up to 1,650 megawatts (MW) by December 2022 at a cost of approximately $20 million. This upgrade will permit Ontario to buy enough Quebec water power to displace more than 50% of the output of the Darlington Nuclear Station.

According to Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, in 2017 the province bought water power from Quebec at an average price of 2.2 cents per kWh. Ontario Power Generation’s price of nuclear power is currently four times greater at  8.8 cents per kWh. And the price of nuclear power is forecast to rise to 16.5 cents per kWh by 2025 to pay for the re-building of Darlington’s aging nuclear reactors.

By purchasing low-cost water power from Quebec, Premier Ford will be able to keep his promise to reduce Ontario’s electricity costs by 12%. This is great news for Ontario’s electricity consumers and the environment!

Angela Bischoff, Director

Electricity price alert

On January 1st Ontario Power Generation (OPG) raised its price of nuclear power by 7% to 8.8 cents per kWh.

As a result, the price of nuclear power has doubled since 2002.

When will the promise be kept?To add insult to injury, OPG has told the Ontario Energy Board that it needs to increase its price of nuclear power by a further 88% between now and 2025 to pay for the re-building of its Darlington Nuclear Station. If this occurs, Premier Ford will not be able to keep his promise to lower our electricity costs by 12%.

Fortunately, the solution to our rising electricity rates lies just east of the Ottawa River. Quebec is the 4th largest producer of water power in the world and it has a large and rising supply of low-cost water power available for export to Ontario at a fraction of the cost of nuclear power.

Please contact Premier Ford and ask him to buy low-cost Quebec water power and cancel the high-cost Darlington Re-Build Project.

Premier Ford’s cell phone # is 416-805-2156. His email is Doug.Ford@pc.ola.org. Click here to send him a message now.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you!

Angela Bischoff, Director

Improving natural gas efficiency can save us billions

This short report summarizes the findings from a technical study that found that deeper gas efficiency efforts between now and 2030 could save Ontario consumers $85 billion in natural gas costs over the life-times of the energy efficiency measures.  Natural gas use is one of the biggest contributors to this province’s greenhouse gas emissions and increased efficiency could cut these emissions by 18% while saving gas consumers money.

Read Saving Billions on Natural Gas Costs 

We need your help to get Ontario back on track to a sustainable future 

You’ve stood by our efforts to phase out coal and create a sustainable future in Ontario. Thank you for that! We need your financial support now more than ever.

Our goal is to move Ontario to a 100% renewable energy future because this will actually serve our province well with new jobs, lower energy bills, clean air and a healthy environment.

A big part of the puzzle is electrifying everything from buildings to vehicles. The technology to achieve this is advancing rapidly – from highly efficient heat pumps for buildings to electric vehicle technology that is taking the world by storm.

But if we rely on high-cost nuclear energy to power this future – as Ontario is doing – we are most likely to fail. The high costs and poor performance – not to mention massive radioactive waste problem – of nuclear is a major barrier to a successful shift to a broader use of electricity.

Fortunately, we have better solutions: import low-cost water power from Quebec and combine it with deep energy efficiency efforts as well as supports for low carbon technologies. These would deliver zero emissions energy at much lower cost, making them a huge win for our province.

This is how we can change the energy paradigm – by showing that a move to a renewable energy future with electric vehicles can lower our energy bills and grow our economy.

Your support can help us make Ontario a climate leader once again.

Please consider contributing to the smart, innovative work of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance today. Your dollars will have a powerful impact in our hands. Click here.

Thank you so much for your support of our work, and blessings of the season to you and yours.

Jack & Angela

Jack Gibbons, Chair and Angela Bischoff, Director

Phasing out dirty coal was smart. Stalling on climate action is not

According to Environment Minister Rod Phillips, Ontario should weaken its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for three reasons:

1. Ontario’s coal phase-out has raised the electricity bills of a typical residential electricity consumer by $33 per month

2. We have already done our share to address climate change

3. Achieving the previous government’s climate targets will harm our economy

Fortunately, none of Minister Phillips’ assertions is correct.

In 2002, Ontario’s previous PC Government committed Ontario to a complete coal phase-out by 2015 because it realized that this was the lowest-cost option to end Ontario’s air pollution public health crisis (i.e., 60 smog alert days a year) and reduce our GHG emissions.

The coal phase-out could have been achieved at a low cost if the subsequent Liberal governments had pursued the lowest-cost options to phase-out coal (i.e., buying Quebec water power and investing in energy efficiency). Unfortunately, they decided to pursue the highest-cost option, namely, re-building our aging nuclear reactors. Ontario Power Generation’s price of nuclear power has risen by 91% since 2002 and it is forecast to increase by a further 100% to pay for the re-building of the Darlington Nuclear Station, further burdening Ontarians with completely unnecessary costs.

Minister Phillips correctly notes that Ontario’s coal phase-out is one of the largest GHG reduction initiatives in North America. Nevertheless, Ontario’s GHG emissions per person are still amongst the highest in the world. In fact, they are 11% higher than those of New York State and more than double those of Sweden.

Solving the climate puzzle

Finally, as Sweden has shown, Minister Phillips’ assertion that there is a trade-off between reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and growing our economy is simply not true. We can address the climate crisis and keep our economy humming by pursuing these smart actions:

1. Keep Premier Ford’s promise to reduce our electricity costs by 12% by buying Quebec water power and investing in energy efficiency to make increasing use of zero-emission electricity cost effective.

2. Direct Enbridge Gas and Union Gas to ramp up their energy efficiency programs to reduce our natural gas costs by $85 billion and lower our natural gas-related GHG emissions by 18% by 2030.

3. Develop a strategy to make Ontario a world leader in the development, production and sale of electric vehicles. Please sign our petition.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

Ford government needs to get into high gear on EVs

Plugging Ontario into a renewable future

Ford government needs to get into high gear on EVs Petition

Premier Doug Ford loves to say that Ontario is “open for business.” But if that business is building electric vehicles (EVs), his government has not provided much encouragement. Cancelling the province’s cap and trade system and, with it, incentives for electric vehicles, did not exactly communicate a strong desire to support this fast-growing sector.

Ontario needs to build its EV industryGeneral Motors has justified its decision to close its Oshawa assembly plant by saying it needs to quickly shift to electric and self-driving vehicles. Premier Ford should be pressing GM and other automakers to make these cars of the future here. Ontario workers have a proven track record for building high-quality vehicles and we have many cutting-edge technology companies in the auto sector. What’s holding us back is a government that is not communicating a strong interest in moving to a low-carbon economy.

Electric cars are increasingly popular in Ontario – 8.2% of new cars sold in Ontario in 2018 to date have been electric (plug in or battery). Of course, with greater range, lower prices and growing selection, EV sales are taking off worldwide with many auto sector analysts anticipating a tipping point in the not so distant future where EV sales rapidly outpace sales of conventional vehicles.

The auto industry has been the engine of Ontario’s economy for over 100 years. We cannot afford to lose our auto industry and its good jobs now. To grow and protect our economy, Premier Ford must develop a strategy to ensure that Ontario rapidly becomes a world leader in the production and use of EVs and other low-carbon technologies.

Please help save the engine of Ontario’s economy, the auto sector. Sign our petition now calling on Premier Ford to accelerate EV development, manufacturing and sales in our great province.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

 

Make Ontario a World Leader in Electric Vehicles – Petition

 

Premier Doug Ford loves to say that Ontario is “open for business.”  But the Ford government has done little to communicate support for  green businesses like manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs).  The auto industry has been the engine of Ontario’s economy for over 100 years.  We cannot afford to lose our auto industry and its good jobs now. 

Please sign our petition (below) calling on Premier Ford to grow and protect our economy by developing a strategy to ensure that Ontario rapidly becomes a world leader in the production and sale of electric vehicles.   

The Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid minivan is manufactured in Windsor, one of only two EVs made in the province.

 

Make Ontario the World Leader in Electric Vehicles - Petition

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615 signatures

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Signatures
615 Todd Edwards Markham May 13, 2019
614 Lucy Segatti Apr 28, 2019
613 Alan Warren Toronto Apr 27, 2019
612 leslie thurston Apr 26, 2019
611 Milithza Silva Toronto Apr 12, 2019
610 Leah Lobo Apr 11, 2019
609 Andre Forsythe Mar 27, 2019
608 Claudia Rivera Vaughan Mar 23, 2019
607 George Bartlett Toronto Mar 23, 2019
606 Douglas Buck Toronto Mar 11, 2019
605 Kate Chung Toronto Mar 11, 2019 Premier Ford, Ontario needs to be a leader in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, including through the development and manufacturing of electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies. To grow and protect our economy please develop a strategy to ensure that Ontario rapidly becomes a world leader in the production and sale of electric vehicles and other green technologies. And restore and increase the charging stations everywhere in Ontario.
604 Beth Mahy Toronto Feb 26, 2019
603 Judy Gilbert Toronto Feb 06, 2019
602 Peter French Toronto Feb 06, 2019
601 Liisa Repo-Martell Toronto Feb 03, 2019
600 Don Rudiak Crystal Beach Feb 02, 2019
599 Ronald Shirtliff Toronto Jan 23, 2019
598 Mary McKeen Jan 22, 2019
597 John Quayle Terra Cotta Jan 14, 2019
596 Liliana Bertolotti Toronto Jan 13, 2019
595 Sherry Mowbray Jan 12, 2019
594 Sam Walden Toronto Jan 11, 2019
593 Albert Roffey Scarborough Jan 11, 2019
592 D Tim Seitz Kingston Jan 11, 2019
591 Iva Kinclova Toronto Jan 09, 2019
590 Victor Becker Lau Regina Jan 05, 2019
589 Cathie Brenner Tottenham Jan 04, 2019
588 Marisa King Jan 03, 2019
587 Victoria Alleyne Toronto Jan 02, 2019
586 Judy Gilbert Toronto Jan 01, 2019
585 Patti De Lorenzi Dec 31, 2018
584 David Booz Toronto Dec 31, 2018
583 Rikki van Marle Toronto Dec 31, 2018
582 Alan Lawrence Toronto Dec 25, 2018
581 Joanne Olafson Edmonton Dec 24, 2018
580 Jeffrey Friedman Mississauga Dec 22, 2018
579 Olivia Shuel Guelph Dec 17, 2018
578 Fran Hill Penetanguishene Dec 15, 2018
577 Melissa Kanmacher Chesley Dec 12, 2018
576 Thomas Gerry Barrie Dec 11, 2018
575 Martin Archambault Montréal Dec 10, 2018
574 Deborah Woods Barrie Dec 10, 2018
573 Gavin Devine Toronto Dec 10, 2018
572 Patricia Indart Toronto Dec 10, 2018
571 S J Lenko Barrie Dec 09, 2018
570 Deb Doherty Collingwood Dec 09, 2018
569 Dess Jakab Stouffville Dec 09, 2018
568 Jacqueline Wakefield Tobermory Dec 09, 2018
567 Simon Dubois Oka Dec 09, 2018
566 Barbara Priscus Toronto Dec 09, 2018
565 Douglas Worts Toronto Dec 09, 2018
564 Jim Salmon Burlington Dec 09, 2018
563 Rene Ariens Hanover Dec 08, 2018
562 Chelsea Duncan Dec 08, 2018
561 Lloyd Skaalen Victoria Dec 08, 2018
560 Stan Blecher Port Hope Dec 08, 2018
559 Lynn Bishop Toronto Dec 08, 2018
558 Carol Ramm Warkworth Dec 08, 2018
557 Leslie Pearl Toronto Dec 07, 2018
556 Fiona McMurran Welland Dec 07, 2018
555 Milou Antaya Dec 07, 2018
554 Solange Gagnon Oka Dec 07, 2018
553 Philippe Giroul Trois-Rivières Dec 07, 2018
552 Sylvia Przychodzki Mississagua Dec 07, 2018
551 carole lizée Laval Dec 07, 2018
550 Lynda Brisbane Ajax Dec 07, 2018
549 Carlos Fernandez Waterloo Dec 07, 2018
548 Réal Lalande Gatineau Dec 07, 2018
547 Doug Green Toronto Dec 07, 2018
546 Martine Chatelain Verdun Dec 07, 2018
545 L Falardeau Laval Dec 07, 2018
544 Terry Levesque Waterloo Dec 07, 2018
543 Jane Martin Toronto Dec 07, 2018
542 Phil Ridge Etobicoke Dec 07, 2018
541 Carl Emmerson Nobleton Dec 07, 2018
540 Annie Giguère Nanaimo Dec 07, 2018
539 André MICHEL Mont-Saint-Hilaire Dec 07, 2018
538 Carla Wong Toronto Dec 07, 2018
537 Lucie Massé Oka Dec 07, 2018
536 Kelly Clune Orillia Dec 06, 2018
535 Bettilyn Berglund Owen Sound Dec 06, 2018
534 Nicole Truesdell Cardinal Dec 06, 2018
533 damian williams Pickering Dec 06, 2018
532 Mike Antoniades Toronto Dec 06, 2018
531 Richard Biggs Newmarket Dec 06, 2018
530 steve Graham Pickering Dec 06, 2018 Premier Ford, Ontario needs to be a leader in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, including through the development and manufacturing of electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies. To grow and protect our economy please develop a strategy to ensure that Ontario rapidly becomes a world leader in the production and sale of electric vehicles and other green technologies. This will help your constituents in Oshawa!
529 Jennifer Sault Aurora Dec 06, 2018
528 Henry Borkowski Toronto Dec 06, 2018
527 Mark Couture Toronto Dec 06, 2018
526 Kerstin Muth Neebing Dec 06, 2018
525 David Anderson Dec 06, 2018
524 martin nugent pickering Dec 06, 2018
523 Karen Lockhart Toronto Dec 06, 2018
522 Ronald Macfarlane Toronto Dec 06, 2018
521 David Burman Toronto Dec 06, 2018
520 Ginny Colling Seagrave Dec 06, 2018
519 Eric Wallin Toronto Dec 06, 2018
518 Adam Deutsch Toronto Dec 06, 2018
517 Ted Ho Toronto Dec 06, 2018
516 lesley Siegal Pickering Dec 06, 2018

The climate catastrophe and what you can do about it

To many of us, the latest IPCC report on climate change was like a siren going off. Never before have the world’s climate scientists issued such a stark and alarming assessment of the disaster that we are racing toward and how little time we have left to change course.

Meanwhile, in Ontario the new government has yet to explain how it is going to achieve real reductions in climate damaging emissions after cancelling both our carbon cap-and-trade system and many renewable energy contracts. Right now, Ontario simply doesn’t have a plan to achieve the kind of immediate greenhouse gas pollution reductions the IPCC has told us are desperately needed.

But here’s the thing: Ontario is actually in an excellent position to take action. Despite a growing population and growing economy, we have cut our total electricity use by 16% since 2005 by using power more efficiently, thanks in part to our advocacy. We have also eliminated our biggest single source of greenhouse gases – dirty coal-fired generating stations – again thanks in large part to our efforts

Saving energy is as easy as screwing in a lightbulbBut we have to do a lot more and that is why we – with your help – are redoubling our efforts to make Ontario a renewable energy economy. We need to put the pedal to the metal on improving the efficiency of both our use of electricity and natural gas. We need to recognize that the renewable energy revolution is barreling ahead – let’s get back on board. And we have to make a lot more of our vehicles zero emissions.

One key way to quickly achieve results is to “electrify everything.” By moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, we can make a real difference for our climate. But we can’t do this by relying on high-cost nuclear power and wasteful energy practices. That’s where you come in – you can help us promote solutions that achieve double bottom line results – lower bills and lower emissions by donating to support this critically important work.

By greatly increasing our imports of low-cost renewable power from Quebec and combining this with a shift to smart new technologies like LEDs for lighting, heat pumps for heating and cooling, and smart controls for saving electricity and gas, we can make this transition quickly and cost-effectively. These are far better solutions than waiting another decade or more for the completion of nuclear projects with sky-high costs and risks. Help us make sure Ontario makes the smart choice.

We need solutions now – not decades from now. Our strategy for making efficient use of zero emission renewable power from both Ontario and our neighbours in Quebec is sensible, doable, and critical to our future wellbeing. Please support our efforts to drive these win-win climate solutions forward by donating $50, $100 or $200 today.

Thank you for your generosity. Working together we can move Ontario towards a 100% renewable energy future.

Angela Bischoff, Director

 

Four greenhouse gas emission reduction options for Ontario

Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips is seeking suggestions from the public on how Ontario can reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, Minister Phillips wants to create “a balanced solution that puts people first, makes life more affordable for families and takes Ontario’s role in fighting climate change seriously.”

Here are four actions that Minister Phillips can take to reduce our GHG emissions and make life more affordable for families:

1. We can reduce the cost of heating our homes and powering our industries, while taking a big chunk out of greenhouse gas emissions, by directing Enbridge and Union Gas to ramp-up their programs to increase their customers’ energy efficiency. According to a study submitted to the Ontario Energy Board, stronger gas utility energy efficiency programs could reduce their customers’ gas costs by $85 billion, over the life-times of the energy efficiency measures. Natural gas consumption is responsible for one-quarter of Ontario’s total GHG emissions.

2. We can eliminate our electricity-related GHG emissions and lower our electricity bills by billions of dollars per year by saying “yes” to Premier Legault’s offer to sell us low-cost Quebec water power to replace our aging high-cost nuclear reactors. If Premier Ford really does want to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers, this is the perfect place to start.

3. We can ramp up electricity efficiency programs and save electricity at one-eighth the cost of nuclear power. According to an Independent Electricity System Operator study, expanded energy efficiency programs could cost-effectively eliminate the need to re-build four of Bruce Power’s aging nuclear reactors.

4. We can reduce our fastest growing source of emissions by accelerating the electrification of vehicles. Ontario has a big stake in auto manufacturing and we need to be leaders in developing electric vehicle (EV) technology, which is poised to disrupt the conventional auto sector. The Ontario government should find innovative ways to support the development and deployment of EVs in Ontario, while making a deal with Quebec to also ensure that we have low-cost zero emission power to fuel these vehicles.

Does this man have a plan?

The Ford Government has made it clear that it does not support the federal carbon pricing plan. The simplest way to break free of the federal plan is to develop a Made-in-Ontario plan that will achieve the same level of greenhouse gas reductions. The four common sense steps outlined above are the kinds of actions the government needs to quickly embrace if it is serious about addressing climate change.

You can submit suggestions to Minister Phillips by clicking here: https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change. Deadline is Nov. 16, 2018.

Thank you for making the time to contribute to climate and energy policy.

Angela Bischoff, Director

 

100 days to save 12%

The Ford Government must use its next 100 days in office to show it has a workable plan to meet its promise to reduce electricity costs by 12%. And it must do so without repeating the mistakes of the previous government – turning up its nose at an incredible offer of low-cost power from Quebec and using accounting tricks to create an illusion of savings.

Step one is to take new Quebec Premier Francois Legault up on his offer to sell Ontario low-cost power. In fact, the new Quebec premier has said he sees power exports as a key way the two new like-minded governments can work together. “Of course, we have clean energy, cheap energy, compared to the nuclear, and I would like [to] make [that] our contribution and work together,” Mr. Legault told the National Observer

This is not a new offer from Quebec – the province is keen to expand its electricity exports as it has a large and growing power surplus – but under pressure from our high-cost (and coddled) nuclear industry, the previous Ontario government refused to sign a major long-term deal. As a businessman, Mr. Ford must recognize that getting the same goods at half the price is an offer that is just too good to refuse and should immediately negotiate a smart deal with Quebec.

By saying “yes” to Premier Legault’s generous offer, Premier Ford could give every Pickering nuclear worker a $1 million severance package and still reduce Ontario’s electricity costs by $5 billion

When will Doug Ford keep his promise?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step two is to focus on finding real savings for electricity users instead of just hiding costs on another set of books. Electricity consumers can save big by increasing efficiency and today’s technology makes it easier than ever to do so. Delivering real bottom-line savings on bills – instead of just moving numbers around — is particularly important for rural and small town electricity consumers grappling with Hydro One’s sky-high distribution charges.Switching to more efficient heating technology, improving insulation, heating water on demand – these are the kinds of actions that can deliver real bottom-line savings for millions of Ontarians.

By paying consumers to save a kilowatt-hour (kWh), Premier Ford can avoid the need to pay Ontario Power Generation 4 to 8 times moreto produce a kWh of electricity. We all save with a more efficient system that requires fewer expensive generating stations.

Please send a message to Premier Ford [doug.ford@pc.ola.org] and Energy Minister Rickford [greg.rickford@pc.ola.org] now telling them you want them to keep their promise by developing a real plan — not accounting tricks — to reduce our electricity costs by 12%.

Thanks,

Jack Gibbons
Chair, OCAA

Let’s make every Pickering worker a millionaire

How could the Ford Government actually meet its promise to reduce hydro bills?  It could start by making every worker at the Pickering Nuclear plant a millionaire.

OK, that sounds like a pretty strange plan, but the fact is that by replacing the power from Pickering that Ontarians currently use with low-cost water power from Quebec, we could save so much money that we could make every Pickering worker a millionaire and still save billions on our electricity costs (you can see all the details in our new report).

Workers are given a more-than-fair settlement for the quick shutdown of an aging and increasingly unsafe plant and we all pay less for power. Plus, we end the production of tens of thousands of radioactive fuel bundles that are currently being piled up on the Pickering waterfront in warehouses and open water pools with no long-term storage solutions in sight.

And the wins just keep coming: If we embark on immediate decommissioning of the plant, as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency, we can create thousands of skilled jobs in dismantling its 50-year-old reactors and moving waste to a much more secure facility away from the water.

That, in turn, opens up a 750-acre waterfront site for redevelopment, just as the closure of the dirty Lakeview coal plant has allowed Mississauga to embark on an ambitious new plan for its waterfront.

Instead of accounting tricks that shift costs between ratepayers and taxpayers, our plan results in real bottom-line savings for everyone who buys electricity in Ontario.  So let’s make Pickering workers millionaires and save ourselves some serious dough.

If you want to save on your hydro bill, sign our petition to close Pickering today!

We can make every Pickering worker a millionaire — and still save billions!

According to the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Pickering Nuclear Station’s performance is “persistently abysmal… by any objective measure.”

Ontario Power Generation admits that Pickering’s operating costs are higher than those of any other nuclear station in North America

Half of the power produced by Pickering is exported at a loss, costing Ontario electricity ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Ontario can lower its electricity costs by $1.1 to $1.4 billion per year by closing the Pickering Nuclear Station and importing cleaner, safer and lower-cost water power from Quebec.

The savings would be so great that we could pay every Pickering worker $1 million in severance and we would still save billions!

Sign the petition to close Pickering!

The International Atomic Energy Association recommends immediate decommissioning for closed nuclear plants.  This would create thousands of hours of work over a decade or more as the plant is dismantled and waste is moved to more secure facilities.

The people of Pickering would then have a roughly 700-acre waterfront site ready for redevelopment – just as Mississauga is redeveloping the site of the old Lakeview coal station.

It would also mean that we stop accumulating close to 20,000 radioactive fuel bundles every year that are added to the huge pile – 700,000 bundles – already being held on the Pickering waterfront.  There is no long-term storage site for this waste anywhere in North America, and not likely to be one soon.

We all win by closing Pickering: electricity consumers save big; Pickering workers are rewarded; and we remove an aging and dangerous nuclear plant from our largest urban area, where it simply doesn’t belong.

Read the full report: How we can make every Pickering nuclear worker a millionaire and save Ontario electricity consumers $5 billion

Another costly nuclear decision – Pickering gets 10-year extension

Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has approved a ten-year extension to the aging Pickering Nuclear Station’s operating licence, meaning the plant can now operate until 2028. 

It took the CNSC less than five weeks to review – and dismiss – dozens of submissions pointing out the Pickering Station’s terrible location surrounded by millions of people, the lack of thorough emergency planning despite 50 years of operations, and the absence of plans for better dealing with the tonnes of radioactive waste stockpiled at the plant with nowhere to go.

Instead, the CNSC came down in favour of submissions such as one made by Ontario Power Generation that claimed that no one had been harmed by the massive radiation releases from the Fukushima accident and that “some radiation” is actually good for you!

Meanwhile, the CNSC essentially ignored the findings of international radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie about the true potential consequences of a Fukushima-scale accident at Pickering, including more than 20,000 cancer deaths and hundreds of thousands of homes left evacuated for decades.

It also ignored the issues raised by nuclear risk expert Dr. Gordon Thompson about the ever-growing pile of highly radioactive waste on the Pickering waterfront – next to the source of drinking water for 40 million people – including enough plutonium to construct more than 11,000 nuclear warheads. Somehow it is ok with the CNSC that Pickering continues to produce close to 20,000 radioactive fuel bundles every year despite a lack of fully secure storage facilities onsite or any viable long-term plan for dealing with this deadly waste.

The CNSC’s lack of serious scrutiny of the issues involved in operating a 50-year-old nuclear station well past its intended lifespan were made clear by its decision to begin hearings on the licence renewal just as the licence was coming up for renewal. With only a few weeks between the end of public hearings and the licence expiry, it was obvious the CNSC never truly intended to do anything more than issue its usual rubber-stamp approval. Indeed, the CNSC has never refused a nuclear licence request – no matter how old or trouble-prone the facility.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that continuing to operate Pickering is a good, safe or economical idea. In fact, replacing Pickering with low-cost water power from Quebec would save us $billions. Meanwhile, decommissioning the fourth-oldest nuclear station in North America would create thousands of jobs and open up new economic opportunities on the Pickering waterfront.

The CNSC may be satisfied that millions of people living alongside eight aging reactors (six active) is a good idea, but we know the vast majority of residents of the GTA are not on board with this risky plan.

We need an unbiased review of the true costs and benefits of continuing to operate this high-cost, high-risk facility, which should have been closed years ago. Please email energy minister Greg Rickford <greg.rickford@pc.ola.org> and tell him that closing Pickering now is the best way to cut electricity costs while ensuring the safety of millions of Ontarians.

Thank you. Please pass this onto your friends.

Angela Bischoff, Director

Ford needs a real plan to lower electricity bills

The Ford Government’s mantra is “promise made, promise kept.” But in the case of its promise to cut electricity bills by 12% there is still a long road ahead. Showing the board and CEO of Hydro One the exit and cutting renewable energy contracts will not be sufficient. Premier Ford is going to need to dig a lot deeper.

Real savings mean saying no to nuclearThe place to start is with Ontario’s high-cost nuclear energy projects. In our new report, Three Options to Reduce Ontario’s Electricity Costs, we have outlined how taking a pass on some or all of these high-cost nuclear projects could save Ontario electricity consumers anywhere from $1.1 to $5.7 billion per year.

The Ford Government can take a fiscally responsible approach to our electricity system by closing the highest-cost nuclear plant in North America – the Pickering Nuclear Station – when its licence expires this summer. And Premier Ford can actually preserve and create jobs in Pickering by ordering the immediate decommissioning of the closed plant and make way for the redevelopment of Pickering’s waterfront.

The numbers are black-and-white: Replacing high-cost nuclear power with low-cost water power from Quebec can result in enormous savings. That’s the bottom line our new Premier needs to focus on.

Please contact Premier Ford (doug.ford@pc.ola.org) and ask him to direct the Independent Electricity System Operator to analyse the potential cost savings that Ontario can achieve by importing low-cost Quebec power to replace higher-cost nuclear power.

Thank you. Please pass this message onto your friends.

Angela Bischoff, Director

 

Three Options to Reduce Ontario’s Electricity Costs

This report outlines three ways in which the Ford Government could actually reduce electricity costs.  We outline how the government could save electricity users anywhere from $1.1 to $5.7 billion per year by closing the aging Pickering Nuclear Plant and forgoing expensive reactor rebuild plans in favour of lower cost options, such as improved energy efficiency and importing low-cost water power from Quebec.

Read the report

Pickering Nuclear’s huge radioactive waste problem

 

The Pickering Nuclear Station has a deadly secret: The plant is a storehouse for 16 million kilograms of high-level radioactive waste sitting right on the edge of Lake Ontario.

The more than 760,000 spent fuel bundles stored at the Pickering plant are the legacy of 50 years of reactor operations with no long-term waste management solution in sight. This waste contains dangerous radioactive elements and enough plutonium to construct more than 11,000 nuclear warheads. Laid end-to-end, the radioactive fuel bundles stored at Pickering would stretch from Kingston to St. Catharines.

Pickering's waste would stretch from Kingston to St. Catharines

More than half the waste that Ontario Power Generation has been quietly piling up at Pickering is kept in open water pools. One of the biggest concerns during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was the possibility of a “pool fire” if the zircaloy cladding on spent fuel bundles combusted. All of Tokyo would have needed to be evacuated if a narrowly avoided pool fire had happened. Pickering’s fuel has the same cladding, except Pickering is 10 times closer to downtown Toronto than Fukushima is from Tokyo.

The rest of Pickering’s massive inventory of spent fuel is stored in warehouses that have no defences against rocket or airplane attacks. All of this, right next to the source of our drinking water.

But the most troubling news from a report commissioned by the OCAA from nuclear risk expert Dr. Gordon Thompson is that this waste is probably going nowhere for a century or more – if ever. That’s because the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s effort to find a “willing host” community to become the burial site for tonnes of radioactive waste has no end in sight — and may never succeed. Even if a willing community can be found, building a massive underground storage facility and transferring tonnes of waste from Pickering and other nuclear sites will take decades.

We’re calling for the waste to be pulled back from the waterfront and stored in above-ground, attack-resistant, reinforced-concrete vaults.

What other industry would be allowed to create toxic, dangerous radioactive waste for decades with no long-term safe disposal plan in place?

Those, like Premier Ford, who think it’s a good idea to keep Pickering running well beyond its design life need to immediately explain their plan for dealing with its deadly waste. No one in Pickering or Toronto agreed to be a “willing host” community for the storage of 16,000 tonnes (and growing) of radioactive waste. It’s time to stop the production of even more of this deadly waste every year.

Sign the petition to close Pickering and better secure its waste.

Also, please contact your MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) – ask her/him to tell Premier Ford to close Pickering in August when its licence expires and stop producing these deadly radioactive wastes.

Thank you. Please pass this message onto your friends.

Angela Bischoff, Director

 

Pickering’s big– and growing — waste problem

The nuclear power industry likes to claim that it produces “clean” energy.  This statement ignores the very significant amounts of radioactive waste created by extracting energy from uranium. 

400,000 radioactive fuel bundles are stored in open water pools at the Pickering Nuclear Station

 

 

 

Currently, the Pickering Nuclear Station has two “dry storage” facilities for the storage of spent nuclear fuel (and other radioactive wastes).  These facilities currently store more than 340,000 highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies loaded in containers that each hold 384 assemblies.  Radioactive assemblies more recently removed from reactors are stored in open water-filled pools. Roughly 400,000 spent fuel assemblies —more than half of Pickering’s current waste — are currently stored in these pools. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is planning to add three additional radioactive waste storage buildings to the Pickering site, which would bring the total storage capacity up to 1,152,768 spent fuel assemblies, which is enough storage to continue to operate all six of Pickering’s operational reactors for a decade or more beyond 2024, which is when OPG currently says it plans to stop operating all of the plant’s reactors.

This is a very significant amount of waste.  As of the end of 2017, this waste included roughly 56,000 kg. of plutonium.  If the plant continues to operate until it reaches its maximum licensed waste storage capacity, this amount would grow to about 88,000 kg.  of plutonium — more than can be found in all operational nuclear warheads worldwide today.

Sign the petition to close Pickering and stop the production of more deadly waste

Ontario Clean Air Alliance Research asked nuclear risk expert Dr. Gordon Thompson from the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Massachusetts to look at the risks of storing this large quantity of radioactive waste at a plant that is surrounded by millions of people. In 2005, Dr. Thompson was asked to prepare a report on reasonably foreseeable security threats to options for long-term management of radioactive waste in the United Kingdom by the UK government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.

Waste is stored literally on top of Lake Ontario at the plant

Dr. Thompson notes in his report that the Pickering Nuclear Station is “suboptimal as a spent nuclear fuel-storage site from perspectives including defensibility, proximity of populations, and potential to contaminate Lake Ontario.”  He concludes that while steps could be taken to reduce risks, there is simply no way to fully eliminate the risks involved in storing more than a million spent fuel assemblies in the middle of our largest urban area, right on the shore of the source of drinking water for tens of millions of people.

The waste being stored at Pickering is far from benign. Besides plutonium, these wastes contain the radioactive isotope Cs-137.  In 95% of its decays, Cs-137 yields Ba-137m, a radionuclide that can be absorbed by the body. Cs-137 sheds dangerous isotopes readily when nuclear fuel is overheated, such as in a fire or explosion.  Therefore, the quantity of Cs stored at Pickering represents a good measure of the radiological risk posed by the site.  Dr. Thompson compared Cs at Pickering to the quantities at Fukushima and found that when Pickering reaches its full waste storage capacity, it will have roughly a third more Cs than was deposited on land after the Fukushima explosion. So the radiological risk posed by Pickering is significant should Cs ever be released through a container failure or fire.

As noted above, the spent fuel assemblies at Pickering also contain significant amounts of plutonium, which again is produced on an ongoing basis through the nuclear reaction at the heart of the plant’s operation (the plant produces approximately 18,000-22,000 used fuel assemblies each year). This plutonium is “reactor grade” but Dr. Thompson notes that various experts have stated that it is still suitable for use in weapons.  As one expert noted, “The difficulties of developing an effective [nuclear explosive] design of the most straightforward type are not appreciably greater with reactor-grade plutonium than those that have to be met for the use of weapons-grade plutonium.”  Only an amount shaped into roughly the size of an orange — about 4.5 kg. of plutonium — would be needed to create a critical mass for a nuclear explosion.   

More importantly, plutonium could be used to simply spread radioactive elements through either a bomb or other means of dispersing the material over a wide area or by secreting the radioactive material near a target and exposing those in the vicinity over a period of time.  Dr. Thompson points out that a 2007 study sponsored by Defence Research and Development Canada estimated that the economic impact of an open-air explosion of a radiological dispersal device (a.k.a, dirty bomb) at the CN Tower in Toronto would be $250 billion.

Dr. Thompson notes that most North American nuclear plants, including Pickering, are actually relatively “lightly defended” with armed guards, vehicle barriers, alarms, etc.  He points out that it would likely be possible for a well-armed and well-trained small force to breach these defences. The station also has no direct defenses against an attack from air or water with missiles, bombs or fuel-laden aircraft. 

But putting aside the threat of an attack, there is also the threat of fire or storage cask degradation. Dr. Thompson notes that CANDU and more common light-water reactor (such as those at Fukushima) both employ zircaloy cladding on fuel bundles, which means there is the potential for an exothermic reaction if the zircaloy is exposed to steam or air, leading to fire.  A runaway, exothermic reaction – a “pool fire” – in the spent fuel pool of Fukushima #1 Unit 4 was narrowly avoided during the Fukushima accident.  If the pool had caught fire, it would have been necessary to evacuate much of Tokyo – and the Fukushima nuclear plant is more than the ten times further from Tokyo than downtown Toronto is from Pickering.

Similarly, fuel containers that will have to remain tightly sealed for thousands of years to avoid any radiation leakage could slowly decay or be damaged.  In the U.S., consideration is now being given to the need to equip radioactive waste storage sites with “dry transfer systems” — systems that can be used to inspect or move materials while in storage from one cask to another should the need arise.  Pickering currently has no such system.

Waste will likely be stored at Pickering for 100 years or more

In this context, it is important to note Dr. Thompson’s finding that the significant amount of waste currently stored at Pickering will likely remain there for many decades to come.  Given the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO’s) current timelines for establishing a remote repository for nuclear waste and the time it would take to transfer waste to such a facility, Dr. Thompson finds that waste could continue to be stored at Pickering for 100 years or more.  But he also points to the failure in the United States of plans to construct a centralized long-term storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada to explain the growing view that many reactor sites are likely to become long-term storage sites by default.  

It is worth noting the widespread public opposition to plans for a “Deep Geological Repository” near the Bruce Nuclear Station and to a “Near Surface Disposal Area” for waste from the nuclear research facilities at Chalk River Laboratories near Ottawa in this context.  The NWMO’s timeline assumes it can find a “willing host” community, construct a massive underground storage complex, and successfully move hundreds of thousands of radioactive fuel assemblies over long distances to the new remote facility.  These assumptions are all far from assured.

That opens the question of how we manage a site that will need to be maintained and secured for thousands of years. The U.S. Department of Energy has modelled the possibility of waste being stored onsite at reactors and other existing waste sites for up to 10,000 years, but with actual control of these sites lapsing after as little as 60 years in recognition of the large range of uncertainty that come with managing waste that will need to be stored for 400,000 years.  Dr. Thompson notes that the real time frames for waste being stored at Pickering far exceed what OPG has acknowledged and planned for even under the NWMO’s current plans.

The likelihood that radioactive waste could still be stored at the Pickering site a century – or many centuries — from today means it is all the more important that we properly acknowledge the risks involved.  As Dr. Thompson notes, nuclear regulators often downplay what they characterize as remote risks – such as a terrorist attack — without acknowledging that the consequences of such events would be catastrophic.  He believes much more attention needs to be paid to the qualities of these risk and the devastating scale of potential outcomes when weighing the wisdom of continuing to operate six reactors in the heart of a large urban area.

In fact, Dr. Thompson concludes that the first step we can take to reduce radiological, proliferation, and program risks at Pickering is to shut the plant down when its licence expires in August 2018.  This would pave the way for a number of positive outcomes:

  • An end to highly radioactive spent fuel waste, including Cs and plutonium, accumulating;
  • The opportunity to consolidate existing waste into a more secure (including from aircraft attack) hardened onsite storage facility. This facility would also incorporate a dry transfer system to ensure long-term container integrity;
  • No fuel stored in pools with the potential for dangerous fires once the final fuel assemblies are moved to dry storage;
  • A return of waterfront lands to the people of Pickering and a more safe and secure community.

It is hard to imagine any other industry being allowed to accumulate large quantities of highly hazardous waste for more than 50 years with only temporary storage methods in place.  Of course, nuclear waste presents challenges on a scale we have never dealt with before: Managing waste sites for thousands of years while keeping materials with high destructive potential completely secure.  So it is perhaps not surprising that the NWMO projects it will take at least 60 years to come up with a long-term waste solution.  And, equally unsurprisingly, that there is a growing skepticism that a viable remote disposal solution will ever be developed.

The nuclear industry has had a free ride on dealing with its deadly waste products for far too long.  It is time to acknowledge that we have better waste-free solutions for meeting our electricity needs and that it is time to stop producing more of these dangerous waste products, while more securely storing what has already been left behind.

To read Dr. Thompson’s full report on the risks of radioactive waste storage at Pickering, click here.