Nuclear commission ponders future of Pickering power plant
The final Environmental Assessment report on the Pickering nuclear power plant is in, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is now considering whether or not to permit a life extension for one of the world’s largest nuclear power generating facilities.
“If the nuclear safety commissioners want to refurbish Pickering, they need to launch a full-scale review panel,” Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson told the CNSC at a hearing in Ajax December 10th. In his presentation, Mattson highlighted some of the potential environmental impacts of continuing the operation of Pickering, including:
- The Pickering nuclear power plant already contributes to the deaths of millions of fish each year by trapping fish and destroying fish eggs in its cooling system.
- The hot water discharged from the plant into Lake Ontario disrupts fish habitat, encourages the growth of algae, reduces drinking water supply quality, and impedes swimming and boating.
Mattson also expressed concerns about the process for approval. The screening-level assessment offers the lowest level of scrutiny possible.
- Limited presentations from the public to 10 minutes
- Did not require experts to testify under oath, or to be cross-examined
- Did not require OPG and CNSC staff to consider alternatives to nuclear power generation
In comparison, both the Bruce and Darlington plants are subject to the review panels process.
“When these nuclear facilities were first constructed, there was no Environmental Assessment process,” says Mattson. “Now, we have this planning tool, and we are not using it properly. This is our last chance to make an informed decision about the future of this nuclear power plant. Lake Ontario and its communities can’t afford another mistake.”
The Pickering “B” generating station consists of four CANDU reactors now reaching the end of their life cycles. Ontario Power Generation applied to the CNSC for permission to rebuild the aging reactors and extend their lives through to 2060. The proposal must pass a mandatory Environmental Assessment before receiving CNSC approval.
Is reviving aging energy technology the right choice in a changing world? That’s the issue we examine on this week’s Living at the Barricades.
Goodbye, Dinosaurs: Energy planning in the 21st Century (Dec. 23, 2008)
This week, we’re looking at old energy: coal-fired power plants, nuclear power and a centralized distribution system. Mark and Krystyn examine some new concepts being developed in Canada, and talk with Long Island Soundkeeper Terry Backer about the move to a carbon-free society.
Music on this week’s show:
- Listen to this week’s show online (right-click to download).
- Subscribe to the Living At the Barricades Podcast via iTunes
- Read the 2008 World Energy Outlook report