Environmental groups call on National Assembly to reject sneak decision by Hydro-Quebec and shut down Gentilly-2

Press release - August 9, 2008
Greenpeace and dozens of other environmental groups today called on the Quebec National Assembly to protect Quebecers from a sneak decision by Hydro-Quebec to rebuild a flawed, aging nuclear reactor at a cost of $1.5 billion.

The Hydro-Quebec board is expected to approve rebuilding Gentilly-2, Quebec's only nuclear reactor, at a closed-door meeting this week. Greenpeace and several other groups launched a web-based resolution today for Quebecers to use to show the National Assembly their opposition to rebuilding Gentilly-2.

A decision to proceed by Hydro-Quebec would ignore the call by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement for public disclosure of Gentilly-2 cost estimates and plans for radioactive waste.

"If Hydro-Quebec made this information public, people would see how bad this decision is," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace's nuclear campaigner. "Hydro-Quebec is ignoring the call by a provincial environmental agency for public disclosure of Gentilly-2 cost estimates and plans for radioactive waste,"

Quick Facts about Gentilly-2

  • Gentilly-2 produces less than three per cent of Quebec's electricity.
  • Hydro Québec signed a deal with the federal government in 1973 to build Gentilly-2 a CANDU 6 design developed by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) in the early 1970s.
  • Gentilly-2's construction costs quadrupled to $1.36 million from $302 million-a billion dollar cost over-run.
  • The Québec government declared a moratorium on nuclear power plant construction in 1978.
  • Hydro-Quebec's estimate for rebuilding Gentilly-2 has nearly doubled to $1.5 billion from $845 million.
  • Gentilly-2 has already produced over 2,500 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste that must be isolated from the environment for a million years.
  • Hydro-Quebec has not developed a long-term storage facility for radioactive waste, even though the reactor has operated for almost 30 years.

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Forty environmental groups, including Équiterre, the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Mouvement Vert Mauricie and the David Suzuki Foundation, also released a public letter today calling on the National Assembly to permanently shut down Gentilly-2 and not rubber stamp the board's decision. The aging reactor reaches the end of its design life in 2010. It can only continue to operate if Hydro-Quebec rebuilds it at a cost of $1.5 billion, nearly double the estimate in 2002.

The Gentilly-2 reactor provides only about three per cent of the electricity generated in Quebec. It could easily be replaced by clean, green sources of electricity.

"Quebec does not need nuclear electricity," said Stensil. "Rebuilding Gentilly-2 will saddle Quebec with a future of unnecessary, risky nuclear power. The National Assembly must protect the public interest and reject Hydro-Quebec's closed-door decision on nuclear power."

The technology of Gentilly-2 dates from the 1970s. If the Hydro-Quebec board proposed this ancient nuclear technology today as a new reactor, it wouldn't be built. In addition, Hydro-Quebec has not solved its problem of long-term storage for tonnes of radioactive waste. In June, Greenpeace released a commissioned report by a nuclear expert that says even more modern reactor designs Ontario is considering are too flawed to be approved.

"A decision to live on with the risks of nuclear power should be made by all of Quebec society and not just by Hydro-Quebec and the National Assembly," said Michel Fugere of Mouvement Vert Mauricie. "If Quebecers were asked, they would say clearly that they don't want nuclear power, its radioactive waste or the threat of an accident. They would say shut down Gentilly-2."

Editors:

The letter to the National Assembly and the resolution are at: 

http://action.greenpeace.ca/resolution-gentilly/ 

http://action.greenpeace.ca/resolution-gentilly/lettre.php 

Quick Facts on Gentilly-2 are also available.

For more information, please contact:

Brian Blomme, Media and Public Relations Officer, (416) 930-9055

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace, Nuclear Campaigner (416) 884-7053

Michel Fugere of Mouvement Vert Mauricie, (819) 532-2073

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