Ontario Power Generation (OPG) publicly announced at an event this morning that it has selected US-based GE Hitachi to build a new $3 billion reactor at the Darlington Nuclear Station in Canada’s largest urban area.

As usual with these sorts of announcements from the nuclear industry, this one was long on hype and short on facts. To begin with, the GE design is just another PowerPoint reactor  there is no operating prototype anywhere. OPG’s belief that this reactor can be built on time and on budget is nothing more than happy talk, sadly endorsed by Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith.

But even if GE Hitachi – a multi-national US-based company – can get this phantom project off the drawing board, the costs will be astronomical. OPG has already stated that power from this so-called ‘small modular nuclear reactor’ – which is not small (300 megawatts) and in no way modular (there is no factory building components for this thing) – will cost 16.3 cents per kilowatt hour. That is two to three times the average cost of solar and wind power and four times Hydro Quebec’s average price for its electricity exports (4 cents per kWh this year).

That the Ontario government thinks this is an answer to climate change speaks volumes about a government with no real plan for reducing emissions, as the auditor general recently pointed out. Nuclear is the slowest and costliest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and betting on new reactors will do nothing more than delay vital action on curbing climate pollution.

And, of course, OPG also has no answers for what will be done with the radioactive waste this new reactor would produce. After 50 years of nuclear operations, the industry is no closer to having a long-term waste solution than it was when the first atom was split at the similarly first-of-its-kind Chalk River reactor where various accidents ensued.

The Ford government seems to have completely forgotten its promise to reduce electricity rates by 12% for the province’s households and businesses.  Its endorsement of a plan to instead drive up our electricity rates is perplexing to say the least.

We can create far more jobs, more economic benefit and faster action on climate by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy than by chasing nuclear phantoms. Ontario is one of the few places in the world that has given up on green energy in favour of higher-cost and higher-risk nuclear projects. Given that this same wild nuclear goose chase bankrupted the old Ontario Hydro – and left us all paying off its stranded nuclear debts for decades – our government should know better.

What you can do

Please send a message to Ontario’s political leaders and your MPP to say NO to a new nuclear reactor in the GTA and YES to renewables and conservation.

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