Ontario wearing economic blinders when it comes to nuclear, says Greenpeace report

Feature story - November 4, 2008
Investment analysts say the cost of building Dalton McGuinty's nuclear reactors has more than doubled in the last three years but the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) refuses to re-evaluate its original estimates amidst a global financial crisis.

Better Never than Late: The Climate Fall-Out of Ontario’s Nuclear Electricity Plan

"Shovels aren't even in the ground yet and the cost of McGuinty's $26 billion nuclear spending spree has already more than doubled," says Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a Greenpeace energy campaigner. "It is irresponsible for Dalton McGuinty to spend up to $50 billion on nuclear and run a deficit when many Ontarians are worried about their jobs and social security."

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Stensil is the author of a new Greenpeace report, "Better Never than Late: The Climate Fall-Out of Ontario's Nuclear Electricity Plan" that also highlights the dangerous and reckless assumptions the OPA made in developing the province's electricity plan. According to the report, the province will miss its greenhouse gas reduction targets and Ontarians will be exposed to increased nuclear risks as the OPA plan relies on gas, coal and running ageing nuclear stations past their retirement dates.

In 2005, the OPA cited the cost of a CANDU-6 at $2,972/kW, as a conservative cost estimate for new nuclear plants. In May 2008, Moody's Investment Service estimated the capital cost for new reactors at $7,500/kW.

"Nuclear power is a waste of money that Ontario can't afford when cleaner, cheaper alternatives exist," says Stensil. "The writing is on the wall, but the McGuinty government and its agencies have routinely attempted to undermine environmental, nuclear safety and economic reviews and silence any opposition."

"The first thing Energy Minister George Smitherman can do to control skyrocketing nuclear costs and protect the environment is to shut down the Pickering B nuclear station early next year and replace it with green. He says he's interested in expanding green power. Here's his chance," said Stensil.

The Greenpeace report shows:

  • The OPA ignores estimates by financial analysts that the costs of building nuclear energy have more than doubled.
  • The OPA has told the Ontario Energy Board it won't re-evaluate the costs of its nuclear plan because the government has already decided to move forward with new nuclear stations.
  • The OPA has tried to skip modern nuclear safety reviews to fast-track construction. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said 'no,' delaying new reactors; CNSC President Linda Keen was later fired by the Harper government.
  • The McGuinty government rewrote provincial law to exempt its electricity plan from an environmental assessment, and undermine public scrutiny. Documents acquired by Greenpeace reveal that the province did not participate in federal environmental reviews to avoid a discussion of alternatives to its nuclear plans.
  • The OPA's optimistic assumptions on future reactor performance have not been evaluated by the federal safety regulator.
OPA UNderestimates Nuclear Costs

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