Report paints grim picture of Fukushima-scale nuclear accident in Pickering

Toronto Star
March 11, 2018
Tess Kalinowski

Report paints grim picture of Fukushima-scale nuclear accident in Pickering
A Fukushima-scale nuclear incident at Pickering would mean the loss of 154,000 Toronto-area homes for up to 100 years, says an environmental group

A Fukushima-scale meltdown at the Pickering nuclear power plant would exact a devastating human and economic toll on the province, causing 26,000 cases of cancer — nearly half of them fatal — and the evacuation of 154,000 homes in York and Durham regions and east Toronto.

Some areas would be uninhabitable for 100 years.

Losses from uninsured housing alone would be in the range of $125 billion.

That’s the catastrophic scenario outlined in a report by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, published on Sunday to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the earthquake that triggered the Japanese nuclear disaster.

The non-profit coalition, which opposes nuclear power generation, wants Ontario to dismantle its oldest nuclear generating station in Pickering and buy water-generated electricity from Hydro Quebec. But provincially-owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has applied to have the Pickering plant’s operating licence extended beyond its Aug. 31 expiry.

Could Fukushima happen in the Toronto area? It wouldn’t take the precise circumstances of the Japanese disaster to result in a similar accident here, said Jack Gibbons, chair of the Clean Air Alliance.

“There’s a risk. No one can say for sure what the exact probability of a serious accident is but everyone knows the probability is greater than zero,” he said.

Nobody is suggesting there will be a tsunami in Lake Ontario, said Gibbons. But the Toronto region is subject to some seismic activity. It could also be vulnerable to a plane crash or a cyberattack. Then there’s the possibility of human error, the number one cause of nuclear accidents, according to the report, in which Gibbons wrote the forward and British expert Ian Fairlie modelled the potential radiation impacts it outlines.

“Could an accident happen? Accidents do happen. The nuclear industry told us Chernobyl would never happen. They told us Three-Mile Island would never happen. They told us Fukushima would never happen. But they did,” Gibbons said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI reported that a Kansas plant, known as Wolf Creek, was the target of one such attack, according to the New York Times.

Cleaner electricity could be supplied more cheaply without the risk of human and economic devastation, said Gibbons.

The Clean Air Alliance says that the 47-year-old Pickering facility, the oldest nuclear generating station in the province, is running on 1960s and 1970s technology.

OPG has applied to the federal Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to extend the operation of Pickering for 10 years with commercial operations ending in 2024, followed by steps toward shutting down the plant.

The government says it has taken every precaution to ensure the safety of its nuclear facilities.

“Safety and security of the province’s nuclear supply have always been the top priority for the government and Ontario’s nuclear operators,” said a statement from the press secretary for Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, in response to Star questions about the licence extension.

“Nuclear facilities in Ontario regularly seek reviews and audits not only from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), as well as from groups like the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Operational Safety Review Team, and the World Association of Nuclear Operators,” said an emailed statement attributed to Colin Nekolaichuk.

A statement from OPG said, “The Pickering Nuclear Station received the highest safety rating, ‘Fully Satisfactory,’ from the federal Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), which licences and oversees nuclear operations in the country. Pickering Nuclear received the highest safety rating for the last two years (2017 and 2016).”

In 2016 OPG took the plant out of service to conduct $75 million in maintenance. A news release at the time said OPG had invested more than $200 million in the Pickering station since 2010. The agency’s website says that Pickering provides 14 per cent of the province’s electricity. Last year, the plant was running 80 per cent of the time, above its target of 71.5 per cent.

That’s not good enough, said Gibbons.

“If you believe in nuclear power you should be building brand-new, state-of-the-art nuclear stations, which are much safer than Pickering,” he said.

“You wouldn’t drive up and down the 401 in a 47-year-old car. I don’t think it’s reasonable to continue to operate a 47-year-old nuclear station that was only designed to last for 30 years.”

The Ontario Liberal government says the plant will save the electricity system up to $600 million and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 8 million tonnes, while protecting 4,500 jobs in Durham Region.

Gibbons says the government, which eliminated coal plants, is appealing to voters, who like the high-paying jobs at Pickering. OPG says there are about 3,000 jobs at the nuclear plant. Those jobs could be transitioned to the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant — a process that would take more than a decade, says the Clean Air Alliance.

Its report overlays the impacts of Fukushima on the Pickering area. It notes that about 80 per cent of the Fukushima radioactive emissions were carried out to sea. If Ontario were subject to the same contamination levels and weather conditions as Japan, the highest doses of radiation would cover an area north of Lake Ontario between Toronto and Oshawa toward Barrie, and then southwest near London and Kitchener. Toronto to Hamilton would receive lower doses.

Pickering, Markham, Newmarket, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Aurora and northern Scarborough would suffer the most devastating impacts. About 653,000 people would need to be evacuated and key transportation routes such as highways 401, 404 and 407, as well as CN, CP and GO Transit rails, would run through contaminated areas, says the report.

In 2015, the Durham Region Health Department and OPG did a mass mailing of potassium iodide tablets, known as K1, to residents and businesses within 10 kilometres of the Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations. Those within 50 kilometres of those facilities can order the tablets from any time, says the health unit.

OPG has an arrangement with Canada Post to automatically send the tablets to new addresses or to address changes registered with the post office that are within 10 kilometres of a nuclear plant.

OPG’s liability is capped at $1 billion — leaving most property losses unrecoverable, said Gibbons.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada confirmed to the Star that private insurers do not offer coverage for nuclear accidents. Earthquake insurance is not part of a standard homeowner policy although it is available as an add-on. About 31 per cent of Canadian policyholders buy it, said the industry group. That includes 45 per cent of policyholders in British Columbia and 4 per cent in Quebec, the areas most vulnerable to seismic activity.


The hidden story of the dangers of Pickering

The hidden story of the dangers of Pickering

The Toronto Star has published an excellent story covering our new report that outlines the horrendous consequences of a Fukushima-scale accident at the Pickering Nuclear Station. The story explains how a huge swath of Southern Ontario would be affected by radioactive fallout from such an accident. It also highlights how hundreds of thousands of people would lose their homes – and tens of thousands would face terrible cancers – if the 47-year-old Pickering Station suffered a fate similar to Fukushima’s.

Help us spread this story widely so that the millions of people living in Pickering’s shadow understand the risks they face from this aging – and enormous – nuclear station. We also need Ontarians to understand that these risks are entirely unnecessary – we have many safer and lower cost options for keeping the lights on, including importing power from Quebec.

Please share the Star’s coverage with everyone you know so that we can have an informed and honest discussion of whether Pickering’s licence should be renewed this August – at high public cost and risk – we don’t need another rubber stamp approval.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

P.S. Join us on Thur. March 15, 7 p.m. at the Pickering Central Library Auditorium for a public presentation and discussion about the dangers and alternatives to the Pickering Nuclear Station. We will also be livestreaming the event on OCAA’s FB page.

A Fukushima Disaster at Pickering could lead to 26,000 cancers and $125 billion in lost home values

Seven years ago, a runaway triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Station in Japan occurred. The effects of this catastrophe continue today.

We asked international radioactivity expert Dr. Ian Fairlie to examine what a Fukushima-scale accident at the equally old six-reactor Pickering Nuclear Station (just east of Toronto) would mean for the 2.2 million people living within 30 kms of the plant.

According to his report, a Fukushima-level disaster at the Pickering Nuclear Station could cause 26,000 cancers, approximately half of which would be fatal, plus a $125 billion loss in value for single family homes in the eastern Greater Toronto Area.

Assuming similar amounts of radioactivity and a similar fallout distribution pattern, more than 650,000 people and 154,000 homes would have to be evacuated for 30 to 100 years in the Greater Toronto Area.

The hundreds of thousands of evacuated residents would not be fully compensated for their losses. Ontario Power Generation’s nuclear liability is capped at $1 billion. (Homeowners insurance never covers losses in the event of a nuclear accident.)

Evacuation zones













Low level fallout would stretch from west of London to the southwestern corner of Algonquin Park. All of Pickering plus parts of Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Aurora and Scarborough would need to be evacuated. Major highways, including the 401, 407 and 404 and major rail lines would now run through no-go zones.

Could it happen here? The answer is yes. No system is perfect and the systems at Pickering are now 47-years-old and far from state of the art, having been designed and built in the 1960s and ‘70s.

That begs the question: “Why?” Why continue operating North America’s fourth oldest nuclear station when we have safer and lower cost options, from importing low-cost power from Quebec to improving energy efficiency at a cost of pennies per kilowatt hour? Why put people’s lives and livelihoods needlessly at risk?

Ontario Power Generation is applying for a 10-year license extension for Pickering, North America’s fifth largest and costliest to operate nuclear station. It’s time for our leaders to stand up and say NO. Please forward this to your MPP.

Click here to read Dr. Fairlie’s report.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

P.S. We’re hosting 2 public events this week that I’d like to invite you to. In Toronto, Mon. March 12, 7 p.m. and in Pickering, Thur. March 15th, 7 p.m. Join us for a presentation and discussion.

A Fukushima-level Nuclear Disaster at Pickering

A Fukushima level Nuclear Disaster at Pickering: An assessment of effects considers what would happen if a serious nuclear accident, similar in extent to what took place in Fukushima, Japan in March 2011, were to occur at the Pickering Nuclear Station just east of Toronto.  In other words, what would happen if similar levels of radiation and a similar fallout distribution pattern occurred after an accident at Pickering?

The answer is alarming.  The modelling done by radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie finds that an estimated 26,000 cancer cases would arise over subsequent years, of which roughly half would be fatal.  Large areas of the Greater Toronto Area, including potentially Pickering, Markham, Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill and northern Scarborough, would need to be evacuated and would become uninhabitable in some cases for 100 years or more. 

—–Click here for full report—–

Major transportation links, including Highways 401, 404 and 407 and the CN / CP / GO Transit rail lines would now pass through heavily contaminated “no go” areas, probably requiring massively expensive re-routing or detours.  Meanwhile, thousands of residents would essentially lose their homes with evacuation and no-entry periods ranging from 30 to more than 100 years affecting access to more than 154,000 homes. The economic losses of these uninsured housing losses (homeowner insurance does not cover nuclear accidents and Ontario Power Generation’s liability is capped at $1 billion) would exceed $125 billion. Of course, the economic consequences would extend far beyond these housing loses, with all economic activity grinding to a halt in a major part of the eastern Greater Toronto Area.

It is important to note that the exact chain of events that led to the Fukushima disaster does not have to be replicated to result in an accident of a similar scale here.  Nuclear energy, by its very nature, presents extraordinarily high consequences for failure. Assurances that “it can never happen here” should be contrasted with the surprising regularity of nuclear accidents, with one major accident occurring roughly every 10 years worldwide.  This unfortunate history, of course, started with a major accident at the Chalk River reactor in Ontario in 1952. (For a full list of the many accidents at nuclear facilities around the world, see

A common theme in these and many other high impact, low probability events (such as airplane crashes) is human error.  For example, one study concerning the failure of valves in nuclear reactors reported that “human error was responsible for 47.4% of the failures in Boiling Water Reactors and 45.7% in Pressurised Water Reactors. The main causes of failure were design and maintenance errors. Administration, fabrication, installation, and operator errors were the other human causes of valve failure.”

Inspecting the remains of the Fukushima reactors
Inspecting the remains of the Fukushima reactors

The Pickering Nuclear Station is the fourth oldest nuclear stations in North America and one of the largest.  It relies on systems — including computer systems — designed in the 1960s and ‘70s.  Many experts have noted that the plant has fundamental design flaws that would be unacceptable in newer facilities, a positive void coefficient and a shared containment system for multiple reactors that leaves it prone to the kind of cascading failures that devastated Fukishima.

The Pickering Station is surrounded by more people (within 30 km) than any other nuclear plant on the continent. It is highly questionable whether such a plant would ever be built in a location like this today.  That is partly because we also understand the growing range of threats to such high-risk facilities, including cyberattacks. For example, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an urgent report in July 2017 warning that hackers had targeted the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant in Kansas.

The Pickering Nuclear Station also has the highest operating costs of any nuclear plant in North America, so the fundamental question becomes is it worth the risk of continuing to operate this aging plant?  This question is especially pertinent given that demand for electricity in Ontario has been steadily dropping for the last decade — demand has fallen by the equivalent of the power needed to supply all the homes in the City of Toronto twice over since 2005.  Currently, roughly half of the power Pickering produces is exported out of province, often at a loss.

Meanwhile, the Province of Quebec has made it very clear that it is interested in making a deal to supply Ontario with safe, waste-free water power In the summer of 2017, it was reported that Hydro Quebec had offered Ontario power for 20 years at a cost of five cents a kilowatt hour (kWh).  This is roughly half of Pickering’s current per kWh operating cost and roughly a third of what Ontario Power Generation is seeking to be paid for power from rebuilt or extended-life reactors at Pickering and Darlington. 

In January 2018, Hydro Quebec signed a deal to supply Massachusetts with power at a cost of 3 to 5.3 cents per kWh.  The CEO of Hydro Quebec stated at the time that the company would be pleased to make a similar deal with Ontario.  Meanwhile costs for other sources of renewable energy continue to fall.  The province of Alberta, for example, recently received bids to supply wind power at a rock bottom cost of 3.7 cents per kWh.  This is even lower than the 6.3 cents Quebec agreed to pay in its last wind power auction, an example of the trend toward ever lower costs for solar and wind.  In Ontario, meanwhile, the Independent Electricity System Operators reports that energy efficiency savings cost it 2.2 cents per kWh in 2016 and projects that there remains massive potential to increase efficiency.

The consequences of a major accident at the Pickering would be severe.  Safer and less expensive options for meeting our power needs are readily available. There seems little reason to continue operating a high-risk facility that has already surpassed its design life. It is time to stop risking lives and turn to safer alternatives.


OPG is profiting off you

OPG is profiting off you

Yesterday Ontario Power Generation announced that its profits rose by $400 million last year. But it failed to highlight how this profit came about.

In December 2017, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) retroactively approved OPG’s application to raise the price it is paid for nuclear power from 7 cents per kWh to 8.1 cents per kWh – a 15% rate increase.

In addition, according to OPG, a further doubling of its nuclear rate, to 16.5 cents per kWh by 2025, will be required to pay for the re-building of its Darlington Nuclear Station. 

While OPG’s rates steadily climb, Premier Wynne continues to turn a deaf ear to Hydro Quebec’s offer to sell us a 20 year supply of clean and safe water power at a price of only 5 cents per kWh.

This is no way to keep electricity costs under control.

Please sign our petition to Buy Quebec Power and write your MPP.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Director

Celebrating the death of Nanticoke’s coal-fired generating station

Toronto Star
March 1, 2018
Angela Bischoff

Your letters: Celebrating the death of Nanticoke’s coal-fired generating station
Twin chimneys demolished at former Nanticoke Generating Station (Feb. 28)

The two tall stacks at the gigantic Nanticoke coal-fired power station came tumbling down Wednesday. Nanticoke was once the largest coal-fired generating station in North America — and Canada’s biggest air polluter.

As a huge source of greenhouse-gas emissions, smog pollutants and toxic heavy metals, Nanticoke’s stacks belched contaminants across Southern Ontario and the Northeastern U.S. for 40 years.

We fought for a decade to get a legally binding commitment to close Nanticoke. Many thought we would never succeed, but, in 2013, the giant plant burned its last chunk of dirty coal.

Ontario, thanks to the vision of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and its allies, was the first jurisdiction in the world to move away from using dirty coal to generate electricity to help our climate and our health. Now many other places are following in Ontario’s footsteps.

Let’s celebrate this huge accomplishment and also to look to the future — a 100-per-cent renewable future.

Angela Bischoff, director, Ontario Clean Air Alliance, Toronto

The end of an era

The end of an era

The two tall stacks at the gigantic Nanticoke coal fired power station came tumbling down today. Nanticoke was once the largest coal-fired generating station in North America – and Canada’s biggest air polluter.

As a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, smog pollutants, and toxic heavy metals, Nanticoke’s stacks belched contaminants across Southern Ontario and the north-eastern USA for 40 years. We fought for a decade to get a legally-binding commitment to close Nanticoke. Many thought we would never succeed, but in 2013 the giant plant burned its last chunk of dirty coal.

Ontario, thanks to the vision of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and allies like you, was the first jurisdiction in the world to move away from using dirty coal to generate electricity to help our climate and our health. Now many other places are following in Ontario’s footsteps. (See Morgan Freeman’s 5 min. video on our successful campaign here.)

Today is a day to celebrate this huge accomplishment and also to look to the future – a 100% renewable future. Let’s get going.

Thanks for your support!

Angela Bischoff, Director

How would a PC Premier lower Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions and grow our economy?

All of the candidates for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, with the exception of Patrick Brown, are opposed to a carbon tax. But they haven’t told us how they will ensure that Ontario meets its critically important greenhouse gas [GHG] reduction goals.

Two options would be to increase our energy productivity (conservation and efficiency) and import water power from Quebec. The good news is that, because these GHG reduction options are so low cost, they will also reduce our electricity bills. Importing water power would also reduce the need to use gas-fired power plants to back up nuclear reactors (which are offline 17-30% of the time) and reduce the use of natural gas for supplying power in peak periods. Meanwhile, according to a report prepared for the Independent Electricity System Operator, we can reduce our electricity demand by a further 33% by 2035 at a rock bottom cost while simultaneously reducing GHG emissions.

So we have asked the PC leadership candidates: “Should the Government of Ontario seek to negotiate a long-term electricity supply contract with Hydro Quebec to lower our electricity rates?”

Unfortunately, none of the candidates have responded to our questionnaire. So please contact them and ask them if they believe that the Government of Ontario should say “yes” to Hydro Quebec’s offer to sell us water power at one-third the cost of re-building our aging nuclear reactors.

And cc. me:

Thanks for making the time! Every letter makes a difference.

Angela Bischoff, Director



When will the light come on?

We are now just a few months away from a provincial election and we know that rising electricity costs are sure to be a big issue on the campaign trail. So why have none of the parties at Queen’s Park embraced the real solution to lowering bills – buying power from Quebec?

Quebec just signed a deal with Massachusetts to supply power at 3 to 5.3 cents per kWh. That’s less than one-third of the projected cost of power from rebuilt reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Station. Yet our leaders seem more interested in accounting tricks and finger pointing than in grabbing Quebec’s sensational offer to make a similar deal with Ontario.

Right now, all our leaders (and leadership candidates) seem to be stumbling around in the dark on the electricity issue (with the exception of the Green Party, which has called for a deal with Quebec). To make a real difference for voters, they need to quickly flip the switch from dangerous high cost nuclear to clean affordable power from Quebec. Voters have had enough of non-solutions and the blame game. Now it is time for real answers.

Please tell the leaders and leadership candidates that you want answers, not empty promises.

Premier Kathleen Wynne:  

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath:

PC Leadership candidate Christine Elliott:

PC Leadership candidate Doug Ford:

PC Leadership candidate Caroline Mulroney:

Thank you,

Angela Bischoff, Director

P.S. We have sent the PC leadership candidates the following question: “Should the Government of Ontario seek to negotiate a long-term electricity supply contract with Hydro Quebec to lower our electricity rates?” We’ll let you know what they have to say. Stay tuned.


Massachusetts gets a great power deal from Quebec. What is Ontario waiting for?

Massachusetts gets a great power deal from Quebec. What is Ontario waiting for?

On the heels of signing an agreement to supply Massachusetts with enough power to meet the needs of one million homes at the barn burner price of 3 to 5.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), Hydro Quebec says it is still ready to make similar deals with Ontario and New York.

Meanwhile, Ontario muddles forward with plans to rebuild aging nuclear reactors at tremendous expense and is about to hold hearings on the safety of keeping the 47-year-old Pickering Nuclear Station (surrounded by 2.2 million people) running for up to another 10 years. As a result, Ontario Power Generation has told the Ontario Energy Board that it will need to raise its price of nuclear power to 16.5 cents per kWh.

Hydro Quebec has already offered Ontario power at a great price (5 cents kWh) only to have this province respond with the bizarre claim that the offer wasn’t competitive enough — despite it being less than one third the cost of rebuilding and extending our aging nuclear fleet.

Now Quebec is making it clear it won’t wait forever for Ontario to come to its senses and will prioritize deals with those jurisdictions that are ready to reap the benefits of its low-cost, renewable power right now.

With five months until the next provincial election, could this be the moment when our opposition parties finally get serious about offering real solutions to dealing with rising electricity costs and begin to champion making a deal with Quebec? Are there any candidates for the PC leadership ready to offer real help to Ontario power users by promising to quickly ink a deal with Quebec? Will the NDP make a money-saving Quebec deal part of its “pocketbook” promises to help average Ontarians? The next few months should be very interesting.

Please contact Interim PC Leader Vic Fedeli [], potential PC Leadership candidate Caroline Mulroney [] and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath [] and ask them to champion a long-term deal with Hydro Quebec to lower our electricity bills.

Thank you.

-Angela Bischoff, Director

Ontario’s nuclear dreams no match for the reality of falling electricity demand

Ontario’s nuclear dreams no match for the reality of falling electricity demand

Since 2005, demand for electricity in Ontario has been steadily falling.  In 2017, it fell a further 3.6% meaning that demand has dropped by 16% since 2005. That is the equivalent of taking 2.5 million homes off the grid –  like unplugging all the houses and apartments in the City of Toronto twice over.

Ontario is not alone in seeing a sustained drop in demand. This is a trend that has taken hold in many countries and provinces thanks to new technologies such as super-efficient LED lighting and smart controls, cost-effective energy efficiency programs, and economic changes. In fact, reducing the need to generate electricity in the first place has become Ontario’s lowest cost way of addressing our energy needs – the province paid on average just 2.2 cents to save a kilowatt-hour of electricity in 2016.

But oddly, the Wynne government shows no signs of recognizing the growing mismatch between its plans to spend billions of dollars on re-building aging nuclear reactors and the ever-decreasing need for the power they would produce.  In fact, in order to justify continuing to operate the 47-year-old Pickering Nuclear Station – the highest cost nuclear plant in North America – the province is currently curtailing 26% of the potential annual output of our cleaner and safer wind and solar power plants.

Does it make sense to pay 7 times more to re-build aging nuclear reactors than to enhance energy efficiency? Should we rebuild nuclear reactors that have to run 24/7 when demand is falling and supply patterns are being rapidly changed by the introduction of increasingly low-cost renewable sources? These are questions the government seems determined to ignore.

Instead of simply ignoring the numbers, a far better way to act on these trends is to strike a deal with Quebec to import low-cost, flexible water power; continue to expand our cost-effective conservation programs; and embrace new renewable energy opportunities right here at home.

Please pass this message on to your friends and sign our petition to close the high-cost and unneeded Pickering Nuclear Station when its licence expires in August.

Thank you.


Replacing Ontario’s nuclear energy?

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment Blog
January 2018
Jack Gibbons

Replacing Ontario’s nuclear energy?

This blog, prepared by Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, is being shared as a guest post to respond to a few CAPE donors who have asked the question: “Where would Ontario get its baseload electricity if it shut down its nuclear plants?”

For close to 50 years, Ontario has relied on nuclear power to supply a large share of its electricity. In that half century, the cost of nuclear power has climbed steadily, the risk of nuclear accidents has been made terribly real by events in Chernobyl and Fukushima, and no jurisdiction anywhere – including Ontario – has managed to devise a practical solution for dealing with the tonnes of dangerous radioactive waste sitting outside nuclear reactors, including in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area.

In short, nuclear power has largely been a failure. It has never even come close to meeting the claim that power produced from reactors would be “too cheap to meter” and never resolved the inherent dangers of combining highly complex systems with massive failure risks.

It’s little wonder that nuclear is now a “sunset” technology with most places in the world moving rapidly away from a technology that has now been eclipsed by increasingly low-cost renewable energy systems.

Ironically, Ontario was an early adopter on renewable energy with the passage of the Green Energy and Economy Act in 2009. But the nuclear industry and its allies did a good job of blaming costs that were incurred in rebuilding a dilapidated electricity system entirely on the move to adopt a modest amount of green energy. These claims actually never added up, but they made good headlines.

Today, Ontario has reversed course, moving back to a multi-billion dollar emphasis on nuclear and ignoring the fact that renewable power has never been more attractive (prices for both solar and wind set new low records every month it seems) – it cancelled its last procurement round for large renewable projects and just ended its innovative Feed-in Tariff program.

The funny thing is, Ontario actually has a green power advantage many other places can only dream of: proximity to one of the world’s green energy powerhouses. Our neighbour, Quebec, is one of the largest producers of water power in the world. It also has stupendous (and low cost) wind power potential and, like Ontario, more than decent solar power potential. The thing is, by working together, Ontario and Quebec could create a super-powered partnership. Renewable energy works best when distributed over a wide area to compensate for conditions that may not always be favourable everywhere. So Ontario can send Quebec wind power at night or in winter when it is needed by our neighbours, while Quebec can literally store “intermittent” power by using wind or solar rather than water power when those sources are running strong in either province.

Together, we can create a system that is low cost (Quebec has the lowest electricity prices in North America), reliable (through a diverse system that doesn’t leave us dependent on one or two aging nuclear plants), and safe (no waste products or accident risk).

And what can put this partnership over the top is working together to maximize energy efficiency. Energy efficiency has proven to be a very low cost way to keep the lights on in Ontario at just 2 cents per kilowatt hour. If Quebec followed Ontario’s lead in exploiting this tremendous resource, it would be easily able to meet the demand for safe, clean power from both Ontario and a number of U.S. states. It’s a simple recipe for success and Quebec has made it clear it is ready to get things cooking. Now we just have to convince Ontario to get into the kitchen.

Power imports from Quebec = big savings for Ontario

Ontario electricity ratepayers could save $12 billion if the province made a deal to import low-cost water power instead of rebuilding aging nuclear reactors.

Every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone massively over budget. It has recently been revealed that the initial stages of the Darlington project are already massively over budget and that OPG has gone to great lengths to try to disguise the true cost of the project.

Meanwhile, Quebec has a growing surplus of low-cost water power available for export.  In 2017, Quebec offered to supply Ontario with a large amount of power at a cost of just 5 cents per kWh.  Compare that to the projected cost of power from rebuilt reactors at the Darlington nuclear station — 16.5 cents per kWh and possibly higher.

If you think Ontario should make a money-saving deal with Quebec, sign our petition!

Quebec has the power:

  • Quebec has surplus power available for export during at least 99% of the hours of the year
  • Quebec’s power surplus is steadily growing as it finishes a massive new hydro generating project on the Romaine River, continues to develop its massive wind power potential, and finds less demand for its power in the United States, where investments in efficiency and competition from natural gas generation have cut into its market
  • Ontario can take full advantage of the power Quebec has available by improving transmission connections at a cost that would be paid back in one year from savings earned by cancelling the Darlington project
  • Quebec is interested in making a deal as plans to increase transmission connections to the United States — the only other way it can increase its export power earnings given that its existing connections are maxed out — are going to cost billions of dollars and take many years to complete.

How making a deal with Quebec can save us billions

OCAA Chair Jack Gibbons on the advantages of making a deal with Quebec

Quebec Hydro CEO Eric Martel on Hydro Quebec’s big power and export plans

Looking at the big picture on electricity trade benefits:


Paikin, Wynne & Couillard discuss Quebec water power

Why hasn’t Ontario signed a deal for power purchases from Quebec? That was the question host Steve Paikin asked the premiers of Canada’s two most populous provinces during the Mowat Centre’s Confederation of Tomorrow 2.0 conference held just before the holidays.

Paikin pointed out that the Ontario Clean Air Alliance continues to push Ontario to choose low-cost water power from Quebec over high cost nuclear rebuilds, and he pressed the Premiers for a response.

Premier Wynne waffled, acknowledging that Quebec has plenty of power to spare, yet defended her decision to spend tens of billions rebuilding old reactors as the “responsible” choice.

Wynne however failed to explain what exactly is “responsible” about keeping a 46-year-old nuclear station operating in the heart of our largest urban area, or how rebuilding aging reactors at three-times the cost of importing water power is good fiscal management. But she did insist that any deal with Quebec “has to be a good deal.” That is a responsible standard her government clearly isn’t applying to nuclear rebuilds.

For his part, Quebec Premier Couillard was very clear that he would welcome a deal with Ontario, noting that “We have huge amounts of power available” and adding “we don’t need to build new dams,” busting two myths beloved by nuclear special interests.

On the bright side, Premier Wynne noted that “Actually, I think we’re in the throes of working on another [deal with Quebec]. I am not adverse in any way.” 

For the sake of Ontario’s beleaguered electricity consumers, let’s hope Premier Wynne’s New Year’s resolutions include a strong commitment to getting that deal done.

You can watch the full interview here. Skip to the 25 minute mark to listen to the power import discussion.

Please email Premier Wynne and ask her to negotiate a deal with Quebec which will lower our electricity bills by reducing our dependency on high-cost nuclear power.

Thank you.

 -Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director

P.S. Watch our 2-minute video with OCAA Chair Jack Gibbons and me about why Ontario should sign a deal with Quebec for low-cost water power. And have a Happy New Year!


Brown’s ‘People’s Guarantee’ promises change, but is it just change for change’s sake?

Toronto Star
December 11, 2017
Martin Regg Cohn

Brown’s ‘People’s Guarantee’ promises change, but is it just change for change’s sake?
The Tories would replace Ontario’s cap and trade program with a carbon tax of their own that would end up pushing fuel prices significantly higher. But that kind of switch hasn’t been successfully attempted yet.

Change that’s not scary.

That’s the subliminal message emanating from Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives as they push out a new campaign platform officially called “People’s Guarantee.” Guaranteed not to rattle you.

Underpinning the platform is a promise to deliver kinder, gentler, more reassuring regime change. And on the surface, it succeeds — by pledging to (more or less) stick with Liberal commitments on pharmacare, rent controls and minimum wages (albeit more slowly).

But there’s a catch: Change that’s not so scary — but definitely disruptive — on climate change.

It’s getting a lot less coverage than other PC commitments, but Brown would rip up Ontario’s existing cap and trade program. The Tories would replace it with a carbon tax of their own — as required by a federal “backstop” law — that would end up pushing fuel prices significantly higher (albeit rebated via income tax cuts and child care credits promised elsewhere in their platform).

Such a switch, from cap and trade to carbon tax, has never before been successfully attempted, as Ontario’s independent environmental commissioner, Dianne Saxe, pointed out to me in my weekend column. So why would Brown bother with an untried and unproven changeover at this stage of the game?

Change for change’s sake.

Environmental experts have been debating the relative benefits of rival systems for a decade, which is one reason Ontario took so long to make up its own mind. Last year, after years of foot-dragging, the province finally followed the lead of California and Quebec by linking up with their tried-and-tested cap and trade system.

No loony-left idea, it had been shepherded by the state’s then-governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (a Republican) and Quebec’s then-premier Jean Charest (like Brown, a former federal Tory). Why do Brown’s Progressive Conservatives believe a system favoured by fellow right-wingers is so wrongheaded?

The PCs are ostensibly opposed to what the Ontario government does with money raised from carbon emitters. In their People’s Guarantee platform, the Tories cheekily dub it the “Liberal Cap-and-Trade Slush Fund,” brimming with billions of dollars paid by polluters.

Brown claims that the money is being squandered by the Liberals on patronage pals and pet projects. In fact, the spending is being scrutinized by the environmental commissioner and is allocated to mundane projects such as rapid transit, energy retrofits and bike lanes.

The PC platform document complains that “the Liberals . . . only seem to care about the growing yet still small share of the population who take public transit.” But even if Tories doubt the merits of funding bike lanes or mass transit, there is a simpler way for them to cut that “Liberal Cap-and-Trade Slush Fund” down to size.

Brown could simply rebate those cap and trade billions directly to taxpayers by making the system “revenue neutral” — just like his proposed carbon tax. In other words (and numbers), they could still take the money from polluters as the province does today, but without investing in supposedly suspect environmental measures — instead “using all the cap and trade revenues to finance tax cuts,” as Jack Gibbons, head of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, says.

The appeal of their alternative carbon tax, according to Ontario’s PCs, is that the money will go straight back to voters through tax cuts. But there is nothing necessarily neutral about carbon tax revenues, as B.C. has just demonstrated: That province’s new NDP government has announced that proceeds from the carbon tax will now be invested in environmental projects to fight global warming — just like Ontario’s cap and trade regime.

So if the existing Ontario Liberal system can be made revenue neutral with a change in government, and the proposed PC carbon tax can be switched to a so-called slush fund on a whim, why bother switching systems at all? More to the point, given that many industries support a price on carbon as long as it is clear and certain, why create uncertainty by changing systems in mid-stream?

Comparing the rival systems this month, Dave Sawyer of EnviroEconomics noted that “on emission reductions, the cap and trade scenario outperforms the carbon tax scenario.” All this back and forth comes at a cost because “the down side is this policy lurching will erode confidence and expectations in carbon pricing, which undermines the price signal.”

It would also be costly to change midway through. Brown’s platform has budgeted $1.5 billion for “transitioning away from cap-and-trade and into a carbon pricing system,” noting that a PC government will “ensure that businesses are kept whole.”

Cap and trade is so difficult to understand that it’s hard to love, but it’s commendably flexible. A carbon tax, simple as it sounds, can be unhelpfully rigid in a mixed economy like ours, the environmental commissioner says.

Oddly, Brown’s Tories denounced a carbon tax for years, but have belatedly embraced it. Is this change for climate change’s sake, or merely for the sake of regime change?

Letter: Cut the power on surplus nuclear generation
December 8, 2017
Jack Gibbons

Letter: Cut the power on surplus nuclear generation
Close Pickering next year, Ontario Clean Air Alliance advises

According to Energy Minister (Glenn) Thibeault, we must sell our surplus electricity to the U.S. at a financial loss in order to keep our lights on (“Thibeault: Ontario does sell surplus power below value,” Nov. 24).

This is due to our dependence on Ontario Power Generation’s inflexible nuclear reactors.

At night and on weekends, our nuclear reactors produce more power than we need. Since nuclear reactors cannot reduce their output during off-peak hours, we have to export their surplus production to our American neighbours at very low prices. In fact, we often have to pay them to consume our excess nuclear production.

The good news is that the Pickering Nuclear Station’s operating licence expires in August 2018. By closing Pickering in 2018, Minister Thibeault can eliminate our surplus nuclear generation. As a result, we will no longer need to pay the Americans to take it away.

In the future, when we need new sources of electricity, we can import low-cost water power from Quebec.

Jack Gibbons
Chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Confederation of Tomorrow Conference 2.0

Confederation of Tomorrow Conference 2.0

In 1967 Ontario Premier John Robarts’ “Confederation of Tomorrow” conference took place on the top floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. That conference was about two things: dialogue and leadership.

On Monday, December 11 – fifty years later – the “Confederation of Tomorrow 2.0” conference begins at the TD Centre. And once again, the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec have an opportunity to better the country through dialogue and leadership.

This is Premier Wynne’s opportunity to lay the foundations for a Made-in-Canada electricity grid by using the conference as an historically fitting platform to say “yes” to Quebec’s offer of their clean, abundant water power. Hydro Quebec is willing to sell us a 20-year supply of electricity at 1/3 the cost of re-building the Darlington Nuclear Station.

Working together Premiers Wynne and Couillard can provide the political leadership to create an east-west electricity grid which will move us towards a renewable energy future and lower electricity bills. And a better, more unified, Canada.

Please message Premier Wynne (or email: today and ask her to champion a Made-in-Canada green energy future at the “Confederation of Tomorrow 2.0” conference.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director

Nuclear accidents happen then what?

Nuclear Accidents Happen – Then What?

Do you know what to do in the case of a nuclear explosion? Where would you go? What are the risks? Are the government and OPG properly prepared?

Join us for a public discussion about the Pickering Nuclear Station and emergency measures:

Tues. Dec. 5, 7 – 9 p.m.
Pickering Recreation Complex
, 1867 Valley Farm Rd, Pickering, O’Brien Room A (at the back of the complex, where the skating arena is located). An easy walk from the Pickering GO station.

A panel discussion with:
* Kerrie Blaise, Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
* Dr. Ian Fairlie, Radiation Biologist
* Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Senior Energy Analyst, Greenpeace
* Janet McNeill, Durham Nuclear Awareness (DNA)
* Angela Bischoff, Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA)

Close Pickering! Many experts think Ontario’s nuclear emergency plans are not adequate given the scale of the catastrophe that could develop during a major accident in the heart of our largest urban area.

Come and learn more about what “the authorities” are doing (or not doing) to protect us all in the event of a nuclear emergency.

Free. All welcome. If you can’t attend in person, we’ll be live-streaming it on the facebook event page.

Host Organizations: DNA (Durham Nuclear Awareness) and Ontario Clean Air Alliance

For more info: 416 260 2080 x 1, or

Read about the event in the Pickering News Advertiser here.

And please pass this message onto your friends and neighbours.

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director

FAO nuclear cost report is fundamentally flawed

The Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario (FAO) has issued a report on the costs of nuclear power that relies on outdated and incorrect information to draw a highly misleading picture of the risks of continuing to pursue high-cost nuclear projects in Ontario. This is a very disconcerting – and highly inadequate — piece of work from an agency that is supposed to provide an impartial, evidence-based look at major economic decisions facing the province.

The FAO’s flawed conclusions about the costs of Ontario’s plan to rebuild 10 aging reactors relies on the following false assumptions:

1. The FAO assumes the price of nuclear power will peak at 9.5 cents per kWh despite the fact that OPG is seeking to raise its price of nuclear power to 16.5 cents per kWh to pay for re-building the Darlington Nuclear Station.

2. The FAO assumes that the cost of importing water power from Quebec would be 12 to 16 cents per kWh despite the fact that last year Ontario and Quebec signed a seven-year electricity supply contract for 2 billion kWh per year at a price of 5 cents per kWh. The FAO also ignored the fact that this summer Hydro Quebec offered to sell us 8 billion kWh per year for 20 years at a price of only 5 cents per kWh and that the average price paid for power exported by Quebec in its most recent fiscal quarter was 4.2 cents per kWh.

3. The FAO assumes that the nuclear re-build cost overruns will not exceed 50% despite the fact that every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone massively over budget – on average by 2.5 times. It also ignores that fact that initial stages of the Darlington rebuild project are already over budget.

4. The FAO assumes that the cost of increasing transmission capacity between our two provinces by 3,300 megawatts (MW) would be $2 billion despite the fact that a May 2017 IESO report said that we could upgrade our capacity by 4,050 MW for only $1.6 billion – a fraction of the cost of rebuilding reactors.

Please sign our petition requesting Premier Wynne to say yes to Hydro Quebec’s offer to sell us clean, safe water power at one-third the cost of re-building the Darlington Nuclear Station.

Please pass this message onto your friends.

Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director

p.s. Listen to a 5 min. radio interview with Jack Gibbons on The Stafford Show this morning.

10,000 people are right!

More than 10,000 people have now signed our petition calling on the Government of Ontario to close the old and dangerous Pickering Nuclear Station. Clearly, there is a strong appetite to see this nuclear station – one of the world’s oldest and largest – shuttered as soon as possible.

What the petition signers recognize is that it makes no sense to keep this obsolete station operating in the middle of our country’s largest urban area. No one would build a nuclear plant in Pickering today. We shouldn’t keep the existing one operating there either, especially since it’s years beyond its design life.

Pickering has the highest operating costs of any nuclear station in North America. That, along with the rebuilding of the Darlington Nuclear Station, is why OPG wants to dramatically increase its nuclear power rates by 180% (from 5.9 to 16.5 cents/kWh ) – not exactly the solution the people of Ontario need right now.

To add insult to injury, at night and on weekends, Ontario’s nuclear reactors produce more power than we need. And unlike water, wind and solar power, the Pickering Nuclear Station cannot reduce its output when demand drops. As a result we have to sell its surplus power to the U.S. at a financial loss, often at negative prices. By closing Pickering we can eliminate our need to export power at a financial loss, and we can lower electricity bills.

The smart solution to meeting our electricity needs is to make a deal with Quebec for low-cost power. Recently, Quebec offered to sell Ontario enough power to replace Pickering at a price that is 45% lower than the aging nuclear plant’s operating costs alone. Importing Quebec power could actually cut our electricity costs by more than $12 billion over the next 20 years.

It was one sweet offer, but so far the Wynne government has refused to sign. So we’ve launched a new petition calling on the Premier to make a deal with Quebec to save us all $billions.

Please sign our petition calling for a deal with Quebec and pass it on to your friends!

Thank you…

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director

p.s. Last week I spoke at 2 events alongside First Nations calling for a 100% renewable Ontario. Watch a 2 min. video of my speech at Queen’s Park, and a 7 min. version of the events.

Power Projections

Globe and Mail
November 16, 2017
Jack Gibbons

Power projections

Re In Ontario, Hydro’s Future Gets Murkier (Nov. 14): How we meet our energy needs may be in a period of massive flux, but that hasn’t stopped the Ontario government from doubling down on obsolete nuclear technology.

Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions banking heavily on nuclear to meet future needs with its plan to rebuild 10 aging reactors at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. Nuclear will lock us into exactly the sort of inflexible and unresponsive system that we are already being warned will be little more than a massive white elephant. Ontario needs to wake up and smell the coffee before it is left with a mountain of debt and power no one needs.

Jack Gibbons, chair, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Fighting a ‘toxic threat,’ Indigenous groups protest at Queen’s Park

The Varsity
November 12, 2017
Ilya Bañares

Fighting a ‘toxic threat,’ Indigenous groups protest at Queen’s Park
Demonstration opposes government nuclear policy, discarding of toxic waste on Indigenous land

Members of the Anishinabek and Iroquois Caucus First Nations, as well as the Bawating Water Protectors, led a demonstration alongside environmental activists and supporters in Queen’s Park on November 9. The purpose of the protest was to demonstrate against the provincial government’s nuclear policy and the proposed discarding of toxic waste on Indigenous lands, as well as to push for renewable energy. At its peak, the crowd consisted of around 100 people.

The demonstration, named “We Want a Renewable Ontario,” called for the phasing out of the province’s nuclear stations. A particular focus was placed on the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. Originally designed to halt operations in 2018, the current Liberal government pushed back the deadline to keep the station functional for four more years.

Protesters also criticized the Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a Crown corporation, for its plan to dump its nuclear waste on First Nations lands in the province, arguing that the proposal could “potentially [poison] the waterways, soil, and air forever with radioactive contamination.” A 2017 OPG report contended that a site near the Lake Huron coast would be the ideal location for the toxic refuse. In order for this to happen, Catherine McKenna, the Federal Environment Minister, would have to approve the plan.

The group also demanded that the provincial government accept Québec’s offer to supply renewable energy at a lower cost than Ontario can provide, potentially replacing the current power generated at nuclear stations. In a pamphlet distributed during the event, the coalition called on “Premier Wynne to support a deal with Quebec that would enable us to replace our high-cost nuclear generation with low-cost renewable water power.” Many signs during the assembly supported this message.

Most of the demonstrators carried signs reading “Close Pickering,” and flags with “Nuclear Power? No Thanks,” written on them.

Candace Day Neveau of the Bawating Water Protectors emphasized the critical role of Indigenous worldviews in this context. “In our language, there’s no word for owning the Earth,” she said. “The Canadian government is just absolutely disgusting, and I’ll say it again: Canada is not a country. It’s a settler idea. This is Turtle Island and we have to own that. We have to be accountable to our identities here.”

Glen Hare, Deputy Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation, called on media groups to “stand with us; fight with us,” eliciting reactions from CBC journalists on site covering the event. “Only when bad things happen to us are we in the spotlight,” he said.

Amanda Harvey-Sánchez, student member of Governing Council and Academic Director for Social Sciences at the University of Toronto Students’ Union, was among the attendees. Harvey-Sánchez said in an email that she joined the rally “as an act of solidarity with Indigenous youth calling for a phase out of nuclear power in Ontario and a transition to 100% renewable energy.” Harvey-Sánchez reiterated that the proposed burial and abandonment of nuclear waste on Indigenous lands poses a threat to waterways and bodies of water like the Chalk River and Lake Huron. “The province and Canada more broadly has made a commitment to work towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” she said. “The abandonment of radioactive waste on their territory without consent stands in conflict with that commitment.”

Julia DaSilva, a second-year U of T student, was one of the protesters in Queen’s Park. “It’s really crucial that we have as many people as possible at events like this,” said DaSilva, “so that politicians can’t pretend that there isn’t public opposition to their irresponsibility — to their allowing the colonial project to continue.”

The group tried to bring a mock nuclear waste drum to the office of Premier Kathleen Wynne but were stopped by on-site security. The protestors then began chanting, “Take your waste, we don’t want it.”

The protest followed a panel from the previous day called “Toxic Threat: Radioactive Waste on Indigenous Lands” held at Massey College. The event hosted speakers Patrick Madahbee, Grand Chief of the Anishinabek Nation; Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director for the Ontario Clean Air Alliance; Neveau and Meawasige of the Bawating Water Protectors; and Dr. Gordon Edwards from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

Indigenous demonstrators, environmentalists urge governments to stop using nuclear power 

Toronto Star
November 9, 2017
Julien Gignac

Indigenous demonstrators, environmentalists urge governments to stop using nuclear power 
First Nations people and environmental groups are airing their grievances about nuclear power and its storage

A large demonstration at Queen’s Park called on Canadian governments to phase out nuclear power and opt for renewable energy sources, instead.

First Nations people and environmentalists from around Ontario joined in solidarity on Thursday

Initially, they had gathered to attend a panel discussion on Wednesday at the University of Toronto.

Some held placards baring the words “Protect the sacred.”

They formed a drum circle at one point.

Activists say waste generated by nuclear energy must be regulated more efficiently, and that future production of nuclear power will only lead to more waste, so it should be terminated in order to safeguard human and environmental health.

“Collectively, we’re addressing the nuclear industry and what is to be done with the waste afterwards,” said Quinn Meawasige, 24, a member of Bawating Water Protectors, a grass-roots organization. “We’re raising awareness. We don’t want to burden our future generations with this problem.

“We need to act now.”

Before settlers arrived in what was to become Canada, all land belonged to Indigenous people, Meawasige said. Now it’s home to industry, he added.

First Nations remain steadfast in their opposition to a waste repository at the Bruce nuclear facility, located near Lake Huron. The federal government has yet to sign-off on the project proposed by Ontario Power Generation.

“There’s no burial or transportation of radioactive waste without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous communities, the First Nations who would be impacted,” Meawasige said. “We need to be working toward a renewable future.”

Radioactive waste disposal is tightly regulated and is safe, said a spokesperson from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal agency tasked with monitoring and regulating the nuclear industry, and issuing licenses to producers.

“CNSC imposes rigorous reporting requirements on the operators of nuclear waste management facilities, and verifies that facilities comply with established safety requirements through inspections and audits,” said spokesperson Aurèle Gervais, adding that current, licensed radioactive waste facilities do not adversely affect bodies of water.

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee is focused on the solution, he said, which starts with individual environmental stewardship.

“You can write letters to the editors of papers. You can write letters to your member of parliament, petition environmental ministers,” he said.

“Would you poison your mother?

“That’s really what we’re doing when we poison mother earth.

“We’re saying we got to stop this nonsense.”

Dr. Gordon Edwards, the president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, takes aim at the federal and Ontario governments, saying they do not have adequate policies in place to manage nuclear waste.

“Both levels of government have been basically abdicating responsibility to the nuclear industry,” said Edwards.

Edwards said that the nuclear commission spearheads environmental assessments for these projects.

But it has never refused to grant licenses to industry players, he said.

“We’re concerned about their lack of objectivity. Now, we’re getting to the point where the industry wants to abandon this waste,” he said, adding that storage locations are mainly located near major rivers and lakes, which can have an impact on First Nations and municipalities.

“It’s scary prospect, because many of these wastes remain dangers for hundreds of thousands of years,” he said.

Angela Bischoff, outreach director for the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, said it is high time Ontario switches to renewable energy entirely.

The Pickering nuclear plant was supposed to shutdown a decade ago, she said, but it keeps getting license extensions. She added that its current operating license is set to expire in 2018.

“It starts with making a deal with Quebec,” she said. “They have surplus water power and (they are) offering it to Ontario at a fraction of the cost of keeping our aging nuclear fleet alive.”

Ontario doubles down on obsolete nuclear – and you’re paying for it

Ontario doubles down on obsolete nuclear – and you’re paying for it

In its just released Long Term Energy Plan, the Wynne government has doubled down on its plan to rebuild 10 aging nuclear reactors. The price tag for this dubious plan is a whopper — a 55% increase in residential  electricity rates by 2032 (pg. 28).

This high-cost, high-risk plan flies in the face of worldwide trends, where many countries are moving away from nuclear energy and embracing ever lower-cost renewable sources instead. In fact, in 2016 worldwide wind power output grew by 16% and solar by 30%, while nuclear grew by just 1.4% (largely due to China). Nuclear reactors actually produced only about half as much of the world’s electricity supply in 2016 as they did 20 years earlier, a clear sign of an industry in steady decline.

And it’s not like Ontario does’t have other options. For starters, we live next door to a renewable energy superpower – Quebec. And Quebec has offered to supply Ontario with clean renewable energy at one-third the cost of power from rebuilt reactors. This is power that is available around the clock in every season of the year. Taking Quebec’s offer could lower Ontario’s electricity costs by $12 billion over the next 20 years, but the Wynne government apparently prefers to bet on always-over-budget nuclear projects instead.

Meanwhile, the first stages of the Darlington Nuclear rebuild project are already massively over budget while Ontario Power Generation seeks to continue operating the high-cost, 46-year-old Pickering Nuclear station despite it being surrounded by more than two million people and its power no longer needed.

In the U.S., South Carolina pulled the plug on construction of two nuclear reactors at a cost to ratepayers of billions of dollars. And giant nuclear builders Westinghouse and Areva have both gone essentially bankrupt (with Areva being bailed out by the French government just as Ontario had to bail out the old Ontario Hydro after it became mired in nuclear debt).

Ontario’s fixation with obsolete nuclear energy is to say the least puzzling, but what is clear is that this fixation is going to cost us dearly.

Please sign our petition calling on Premier Wynne to make a deal with Quebec to lower our electricity costs and to open the way for a modern renewable energy system. And please forward this onto your friends. Thank you.

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director