Pickering News Advertiser
May 27, 2016
Kristen Calis

Ontario Clean Air Alliance asking Province to close Pickering nuclear plant
Ontario Power Generation wants licence extended from 2018 to 2024

PICKERING — A coalition that led the fight to phase out coal-fired electricity in Ontario is now calling on the provincial government to close the Pickering nuclear generating station no later than 2018.

“We’d like to get 75,000 to sign the petition,” said Jack Gibbons, chairman of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

He said Pickering’s is the fourth oldest nuclear station in North America, the seventh oldest in the world, and is located closer to a major urban centre than any other in North America.

Ontario Power Generation is seeking a licence extension to 2024.

“Its existing licence expires in 2018,” said Mr. Gibbons. “We were shocked to hear that. It doesn’t make sense. It needlessly risks public safety and raises our electricity bills.”

OPG spokesman Neal Kelly said extending Pickering’s operation to 2024 would save Ontario electricity customers up to $600 million, avoid eight million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and protect 4,500 jobs across Durham Region.

“What we are proposing to do is safely operate six of the units until 2022 and four until 2024,” said Mr. Kelly.

“Our studies to date show that you can safely operate the station until 2024.”

Mr. Gibbons said closing the plant in 2018 will reduce Ontario electricity costs by $900 million per year and create 16,000 new jobs dismantling and decommissioning the reactors.

He said he’s learned OPG is going to seek permission to extend it further, to 2028. When asked if this is true, Mr. Kelly reiterated plans to extend to 2024.

OCAA released a video of retired OPG nuclear scientist Frank Greening explaining the risks of extending Pickering operations. In the video, he said there have been “near misses” in the past and said there are other ways to replace the power that comes out of Pickering, such as buying hydroelectric power from Quebec.

“All I can tell you is it is a safe plant,” said Mr. Kelly in response to the video. “Anybody that says otherwise is wrong. We operate that plant to a very, very high standard. We have to demonstrate on a daily basis to the satisfaction of the regulator, the (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission), that the plant is able to continue operating in a safe and effective manner.”

For more information, visit www.cleanairalliance.org .