Nuclear power proposal slammed
Plan proposes $40B in new Ontario stations Consultation process described as a sham
Feb. 14, 2006. 01:00 AM
PETER GORRIE AND MIKE FUNSTON, STAFF REPORTERS
A plan that recommends $40 billion worth of new nuclear power for Ontario was slammed at public hearings last night in Toronto and Mississauga.
At the Toronto meeting more than 250 people appeared just as angry about what they described as a sham three-day consultation process that continues today and tomorrow across the province.
In Mississauga, even before moderator John Crane finished his opening remarks to about 150 people, Greenpeace representative Dave Martin slammed the legitimacy of the process.
"We are getting three days of consultation this week on 11 days' notice and we are expected to produce comments off the cuff and we're being told this is good public consultation. I don't think so," said Martin.
"The (pro-nuclear) bias of the minister of energy is coming out loud and clear," said Kim Fry, who has started a group called Mothers Against Nuclear.
Yesterday's public hearings come on the heels of a report by the Ontario Power Authority that recommended nuclear energy should continue to represent about half of the province's electricity supply up to 2025.
Jeff Leal, parliamentary assistant to Energy Minister Donna Cansfield, however, suggested last night that the plan's hostile reception might delay a final decision.
Speaker after speaker last night argued nuclear power is expensive, unreliable and dangerous to the environment and human health.
But several representatives of the nuclear industry extolled the virtues of nuclear power.
Nuclear physicist Nathalie Gagnon demonstrated a model of a nuclear fuel bundle about one metre long powered by eight tiny radioactive pellets.
She said it could provide power to a home for 100 years without any air pollution.
She urged people not to be afraid of nuclear power, adding people tend to associate it with nuclear weapons and it's the not same thing.
The Ontario Power Authority was created by the provincial Liberal government to plan for the province's looming electricity crisis, which includes aging nuclear power plants, a plan to shut down coal-powered generating plans and warnings that downtown Toronto risks rolling blackouts in two years.
Other speakers said the government has not only underestimated the potential of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, but has also undermined those efforts with its announcement last Friday of the low price cap on the electricity consumed by industry.