"Top Ten" list against nuclear power Print
Earth News
Monday, 17 September 2007 11:00

"Top Ten" list against nuclear power 

Greenpeace - Toronto, Ontario - Sept. 17  - Greenpeace released today a "Top Ten" list against nuclear power highlighting nuclear energy's threats to the environment and the development of green energy in Ontario.


Last month, the McGuinty government unveiled its final 20-year
electricity plan. Central to the plan is building an astonishing 14,000
megawatts (MW) of new nuclear capacity worth $46 billion.

Despite this massive commitment to expanding nuclear power, the Liberal's
election platform fails to mention the word "nuclear" while trumpeting the
government's green energy initiatives.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, have criticized the government's
electricity plan for limiting the long-term development of new low-impact,
renewable energy in Ontario to less than 5,000 MW, in order to ensure there is
demand for electricity from nuclear plants when they come online in 2018-2019.

John Tory's Progressive Conservatives have also stated that they will
expand the use of nuclear power in the province.  "Nuclear power has a thirty
year history of cost over-runs, poor performance and radioactive waste that our
political leaders are ignoring,"said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, an energy campaigner
with Greenpeace Canada.

"Spending billions on nuclear power is not only a threat to the environment
it's a threat to the development of renewable energy in Ontario."

Energy Fact Sheet

                   "Top Ten" Reasons Against Nuclear Power

    Modern, sustainable and decentralized energy systems produce less carbon
emissions and are cheaper than our current inefficient, centralized, nuclear
and high-carbon electricity system. Studies show that if Ontario aggressively
developed its renewable energy potential, the province could phase out coal
and nuclear generation over the next 20 years.

    Ontario's current electricity plan undermines a renewable future for
Ontario, capping renewable energy in favour of old-style nuclear
mega-projects. Ontario's commitment to nuclear power will block the
development of a modern, decentralized energy system in the province in the
name of fighting climate change while leaving Ontario with the cost of nuclear
power: radioactive waste, accident risks, high cost and continued dependence
on coal.

    1. Nuclear power produces radioactive waste

    Canada's nuclear reactors have produced over 40,000 tonnes of highly
radioactive fuel waste, which must be isolated from humans and the environment
for a million years. When reactors are dismantled, they become radioactive
trash, which must be isolated from the environment for hundreds of thousands
of years.

    Mining and processing uranium for reactor fuel also produces waste known
as tailings. There are currently over 200 million tonnes of uranium tailings
in Ontario and Saskatchewan. This waste remains a hazard for thousands of
years and contains carcinogens, such as radium, radon gas, and thorium among

    2. Nuclear power limits clean energy

    A dollar can only be spent once and every dollar spent on nuclear is a
dollar not available for green energy and conservation. Ontario's current
commitment to nuclear mega-projects will lock Ontario into an inflexible,
centralized electricity system for at least 50 years. Investment in renewable
energy, conservation and local generation will be suppressed as capital will
be tied up in nuclear projects and green energy entrepreneurs will invest

    Nuclear power is a Trojan Horse in the fight to stop climate change - a
cynical deception to revive a dying industry.

    3. Nuclear power isn't safe

    Safe nuclear power is a myth. Human error or technical failure could cause
a meltdown at any of Canada's nuclear reactors.

    Imagine the consequences of a Chernobyl scale accident here in Canada.
After Chernobyl, over 350,000 people were forced to permanently relocate,
destroying local economies and communities. The high price of resettlement,
health care, environmental clean-up and lost agricultural capacity has cost
the Ukraine and Belarus hundreds of billions of dollars, forcing them to
establish a 'Chernobyl tax' to pay nuclear power's high costs.

    The nuclear industry knows that the risk of major nuclear accident is real
and requires a special law, the Nuclear Liability Act, to protect it
financially from the liability of an accident.

    4. Nuclear power plants are a terrorist target

    Nuclear power plants are attractive targets for terrorists because of
their importance to the electricity supply system, the severe consequences of
radioactive releases and because of their symbolic character.

    Canada's nuclear reactors were not designed to withstand a deliberate
crash by a jumbo jet full of fuel, or many other types of attack. Such an
attack would have widespread and catastrophic consequences for both the
environment and public health.

    5. Nuclear power is unreliable and dependent on fossil fuel

    Coal and nuclear stations work as a dirty tag team in Ontario's
electricity system. When our nuclear reactors perform poorly, we crank up the
coal plants for lack of alternatives - alternatives that we never built
because system planners assumed, in spite of 30 years of evidence to the
contrary, that nuclear performance was just about to get better.

    The root cause of our current smog crisis can be traced back to the early
1990s when declining nuclear performance eventually culminated in the 1997
shutdown of eight of the province's twenty reactors - the largest nuclear
shutdown in world history. As a result, Ontario turned up its coal plants and
emissions causing acid rain, smog and global warming to more than doubled.

    After undergoing $2 billion dollars in repairs, two reactors at the
Pickering A nuclear station were shut down again this summer for repairs,
boosting our reliance on coal yet again.

    6. Nuclear power can make nuclear weapons

    Every state that has nuclear power capability is only months away from
having nuclear weapons capacity, according to the International Atomic Energy
Agency. Countries such as India and Pakistan used so called peaceful Canadian
nuclear technology to develop the atomic bomb. North Korea developed nuclear
weapons criteria even as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Existing
international controls failed to stop the export of sensitive nuclear
technology to Libya, North Korean and Iran.

    7. Nuclear plants emit radioactive emissions

    Nuclear stations release radioactive pollutants into the air and the
water. Radioactivity can be absorbed by living things through air, water and
food. Exposure to radioactivity increases the risk of cancer and having birth

    Canadian reactors release levels of radioactive tritium at levels that are
considered hazardous by European radiation protection standards.

    Because there is no fail-proof way of isolating radioactive waste for a
million years, Canada's stockpiles of radioactive waste will be future
radioactive pollution.

    8. Nuclear power is expensive

    Every nuclear plant in Canada has undergone massive cost over-runs and
delays. The high cost of nuclear power effectively bankrupted Ontario Hydro
and every month Ontarians pay down the nuclear industry's massive debt on
their electricity bill. And there are still bills to be paid: the industry
estimates that the long-term management of radioactive waste will cost $24

    Worse, the costs of any serious nuclear accident or impacts of radioactive
pollution from nuclear waste will be borne by society and not the nuclear

    9. Nuclear power is unpopular

    After decades of cost over-runs, poor performance and mounting stockpiles
of radioactive wastes, Ontarians are rightly skeptical of nuclear. In poll
after poll, Ontarians rate the nuclear power just above coal-fired generation
in their energy preferences. Polls also show that Ontarians believe that
Ontario's electricity plans are being written at the behest of the nuclear
lobby and do not fully develop Ontario's green energy potential.

    10. Nuclear power is slow to build

    The expert consensus is that climate change must be stopped within the
next 10 years to avert the worst impacts. New nuclear reactors take 10 - 15
years to build and cannot contribute to stopping dangerous climate change.

    Due to the long lead times involved to build new nuclear stations and the
declining performance of Ontario's ageing reactors, recent energy modelling by
the WWF and the Pembina Institute shows that Ontario's current nuclear
mega-project energy strategy will keep Ontario dependent on coal until as late
as 2017. To phase out coal in the near term, Ontario must adopt a modern
approach to energy planning and commit to a portfolio of energy options that
are quick to deploy, such as conservation, renewables and local decentralized

For further information: Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Greenpeace energy
campaigner, (416) 884-7053; www.voteforcleanenergy.ca

Last Updated on Monday, 17 September 2007 11:00