The Nuclear Power that Binds Us in Ontario

In an effort to become a green city, little thought is given to the two major nuclear plants, just outside of the Toronto area. I think we like to imagine that they are not there. Do the benefits really outweigh the cost? In regards to the greening of the planet proponents like to say that nuclear power is green energy. However I beg to differ. Nuclear power is not “clean and green,” as the industry claims, because large amounts of fossil fuels are required to mine and refine the uranium for nuclear power reactors. In addition, much thought is not given to the concrete reactor buildings, along with the need to transport and store the radioactive waste. Nuclear power reminds me of the common “deal with the devil” syndrome. We will get quick and immediate satisfaction, however in the long term we are actually killing and destroying our planet. As with always, little is shown to the common Ontarian about the facts of nuclear waste. If people knew how toxic and how long it takes to even safely get rid of it, maybe we all would think a little different about the legacy we are leaving future generations. Although we talk about the need to become more environmentally friendly, we are moving away from this goal at an ever increasing pace. As Toronto expands and grows, attracting more and more people we will require more and more power. Although we want to be “green”, let’s face the fact. Unless we may major changes and investments in renewable resources, along with offering green choices for consumers, we are essentially going to see more nuclear reactors. We are attached to nuclear power, not out of wanting, but necessity.

By: Adrian P
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

5 Comments

  1. Nuclear power is unclean. It creates its own set of serious environmental problems. Each stage of the nuclear energy process generates large amounts of radioactive and otherwise hazardous wastes that will require care – possibly for hundreds of thousands of years. The process also pollutes surface water and groundwater with radioactive and hazardous pollutants. Canadian nuclear power plants have had routine and accidental releases to surface and groundwater.

    Nuclear power is uneconomical. The McGuinty government intends to pour $45 billion into nuclear power. It cost Ontario more than $2 billion to restart two reactors this summer. Ontario will spend more than $100 billion to replace dirty, aging power plant and transmission systems during the next two decades, including building new nuclear reactors and resuscitating the expiring ones.

    Nuclear power is unreliable. On September 25, six of the 16 nuclear reactors were off-line for maintenance, along with 3 coal-fired units and one natural gas unit. This left Ontario with a 1282 megawatt deficit, forcing the province to import 2 231 megawatts.

    In poll after poll, Ontarians rate nuclear power just above coal-fired generation in their energy preferences. Polls also show that Ontarians believe that Ontario’s nuclear lobby has control over the province’s electricity planning and that citizens have little or no input. Considering the government’s refusal to hold an environmental assessment or any kind of public consultation over its nuclear mega-plans, it’s easy to see why Ontarians feel that way. Finally, unlike the leading parties, Ontarians know that Ontario’s green energy potential is being vastly undersold. Nuclear power is anything but clean, anything but modern. And Ontarians know it.

  2. >> Nuclear power is unclean.

    Nuclear power is far cleaner than the only current alternative, coal. It isn’t just coal’s acid rain killing off our lakes. Or the many coal mining deaths from black lung disease. Or the open pit mines and mine tailings.

    (OK, Uranium mining produces open pits and mine tailings too, but you need so much *less* uranium than coal for a given amount of energy that it comes out far ahead. )

    But coal releases more radioactivity into the environment than nuclear power. Coal contains low levels of uranium, thorium, and other naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes.

    And coal has a bigger waste disposal problem than nuclear power. Nuclear waste is dangerous, but there’s so much *less* of it than, the nasty poisonous sludge from the stack scrubbers of a coal power plant, that it is much less of a problem per unit of power.

    >> Nuclear power is uneconomical.

    No. Unfortunately, the dominant cost of nuclear plants is the capital cost of building them. A coal plant is cheaper to build, but the costs of continuously supplying them with coal add up over time.

    >> Nuclear power is unreliable.

    If you keep putting off your maintenance the way Ontario did with it’s nuclear plants, coal is no more reliable.

  3. We definitely need to move to renewable, green energy, now. The technology is there, however we are wasting precious time arguing over a solution. Green energy, such as bio-mass, wind power, and a host of others can be used to supply a good portion of our energy needs. What is unfortunate is the provincial government, and federal, are “unwilling to upset the economy”. Ontarians are ready to make a contribution to the planet. I speak with everyday individuals, who are now seeing the importance of planetary stewardship. Simple things such as vehicle purchases and home appliances are on the minds of everyday people. Using less, thinking about the planet and the legacy we are going to leave for our children. What will future generations say about us? We have an opportunity to make a difference in Ontario. We just need a politician somewhere, with some courage to go forward and not look back.

  4. The problem with a lot of “green” energy sources – like wind and solar – is that they’re “unreliable”. That is, you can’t rely on them every day. Wind stops. The sun goes down or is covered by clouds. For cities and job-producing factories, you need reliable power every day.

    What’s needed for “unreliable” power is a way to store it. About the best suggestion is reversable hydro dams: When your windmills are producing power, use some of it to pump water *uphill* into a lake. When the windmills *aren’t* producing power, run the water back downhill through the dam to generate power.

    Ontarians *are* willing to think green…. The problem is a growing population and a growing economy – power needs will keep increasing. Thinking green merely slows this down a bit.

    One thing that would help is an east-west power grid, allowing Ontario to get a lot more clean power from hydro dams in Manitoba. It’s too far away directly power Toronto, but you could send power from Manitoba to Northern Ontario, and what presently powers Northern Ontario gets shifted southeast…

  5. Even nordic countries without huge reserves of gas or oil who are forced to maximize their relying on green forms of electricity have demonstrated the ceiling that is hit.

    Nuclear represents a huge win for industry, stable and clean(er) supply, and research into this technology that represents just the type of the iceberg where atomic energy is concerns.

    Heck, our newest CANDUs can even burn spent fuel that other countries don’t want. The Japanese, with their density realities, are pushing into the undiscovered country of new tech. “Reburners” or reactors designed to burn fuel waste again and again, vastly reducing the volume of nuclear waste, represent the first step towards advancing our knowledge of this technology.

    The “alternatives” are just that, alternative. We need a solid foundation for our energy mix and there just aren’t any other forms of power to fill this gap.

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