“Not who we want leading us”: Durham reacts to Ontario energy plans
Here from the Oshawa Express a reaction to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli’s announcement that there would be no new nuclear power facilities in Ontario.
The promise of new jobs is false, local officials say, and this plan is no plan at all.
New nuclear scrapped by Liberals
By Lindsey Cole and Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express
The Ontario Liberal government’s decision to pull the plug on new nuclear projects, like two possible reactors at Darlington, is being met with both cheers and jeers.
Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says while the provincial government remains committed to refurbishing the nuclear sector, now is not the time for new nuclear projects. The minister’s comments puts planned developments like the Darlington New Nuclear Project in limbo, perhaps permanently.
“New nuclear will not be part of Ontario’s new Long Term Energy Plan,” says Minister Chiarelli. “The plan will be finalized before the end of this year. Sometime in the future, we might look at building new nuclear, but it will not be included in this review.”
Before the minister’s statements were made, various approvals had been received for two potential nuclear reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.
“There is a strong consensus that now is not the right time to build new nuclear, and refurbishment is where we should be going,” says Minister Chiarelli.
Environmental groups seized on his comments as a victory.
“The Province’s decision not to build more nuclear power plants will dramatically reduce the environmental footprint of Ontario’s electricity sector,” says environmental lawyer and President of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson. “The decision is 100% consistent with Ontario’s new Great Lakes Protection Act. This marks the first time in a half a century that the province’s electricity plan will actually improve swimmability, drinkability, and fishability of the Great Lakes. We are optimistic that this will usher in a new era of protection for Ontario’s most important natural resource: water.”
On the flip side, Durham Regional Chair Roger Anderson says the decision removes thousands of high-paying jobs from the area.
“I’m very, very disappointed,” says Chair Anderson. “I don’t know where they expect companies who are looking at Ontario to get electricity.”
The federal government had approved the Darlington New Nuclear Project’s environmental assessment in May 2012. Ontario Power Generation then signed agreements with two companies to prepare construction plans, schedules and cost estimates for up to two nuclear reactors at Darlington. A joint review panel had issued a Licence to Prepare Site in August 2012.
Neal Kelly, a spokesperson for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) said it had been “hopeful of moving forward” with the new nuclear build, which was expected to cost billions.
“Nuclear will remain a strong part of Ontario’s energy mix,” states Kelly. The minister’s commitment to refurbishment is “great news.”
Four nuclear reactors at Darlington will be refurbished in the near future, allowing them to operate for approximately 25 to 30 additional years. The refurbishment had its environmental assessment approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in March following a four-day public hearing.
“Thousands of jobs in Durham Region will be created,” claims Kelly.
At the end of the day, the final decision to move forward with the new nuclear project rests with the Government of Ontario. Several energy ministers and governments before Chiarelli and the Liberals committed to the new build, says Chair Anderson. Nothing will happen for a decade now, he claims.
“It is not like they didn’t promise this,” says Chair Anderson. “They’ve got a lot of explaining to do. That’s not who I want leading us.”