March 29, 2016

Shutting Pickering white elephant would create 16,000 jobs — and lower our electricity rates

Instead of extending the life of one of the oldest, highest-cost nuclear plants in North America, the province should de-commission it when its license expires in 2018, creating thousands of jobs and keeping our electricity rates down, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) said today.

De-commissioning the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station would generate 16,000 person-years of work, many of them skilled, highly paid jobs, according to a report released today by the OCAA. Currently, 1,900 people operate the money-losing plant.

Pickering came into service in 1971 and its reactors have exceeded their original 30-year design lives.

The plant is an under-performing white elephant — an old, high cost generating station that electricity consumers had to subsidize by $900 million in 2014. The Province announced early this year that it intends to keep operating the plant through 2024.

“Pickering’s expensive electricity is a burden on Ontario’s economy,” said Jack Gibbons, Chair of the OCAA.

“Householders, businesses and Ontario’s beleaguered manufacturers all pay too much for the electricity produced at Pickering. The Pickering nuclear plant should be shut down when its license expires in two years,” Gibbons said.

Pickering power is not needed. Last year, Ontario exported more electricity — often at prices below production cost — than was generated at Pickering. Ontario actually loses money operating Pickering.

As well, Pickering has a checkered safety history, most recently being fined this January for secretly defying safety violation remedies ordered by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The Pickering plant’s “unilateral” actions could result in “unreasonable risks to national security, the health and safety of persons and the environment”, the CNSC said in explaining the fine it imposed.

Pickering is closer to a major urban centre — Toronto — than any nuclear generating plant in North America. Two million people live within 30 km of the aging nuclear plant.

The new report, “Direct Decommissioning of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station: Employment and Other Benefits”, prepared by Ralph Torrie for Ontario Clean Air Alliance Research is available at http://www.cleanairalliance.org/decommissioning-pickering/

 

For further information:

Jack Gibbons
(416) 260 2080 x 2, or jack@cleanairalliance.org