Scientist calls $12.8B rebuild of Ontario nuclear plant ill-advised

TORONTO -- The proposed $12.8-billion refurbishment of four nuclear reactors at the Darlington generating station is an ill-advised make-work project that will end up soaking taxpayers, a retired nuclear scientist says.

See Full Article

In a letter to Ontario's energy minister, obtained by The Canadian Press, Frank Greening warns of the formidable technical hazards he says will undermine rosy projections for the project.

"I am quite mystified that you would consider the refurbishment of Darlington to be some sort of solution to Ontario's economic woes, when in fact the premature failures of (nuclear reactors) are a major cause of Ontario's economic problems," writes Greening, a frequent critic of the industry.

"Spending billions of dollars trying to patch up Darlington's four dilapidated reactors will simply continue the bleeding."

Earlier this month, the province's publicly owned generating giant, Ontario Power Generation, announced plans to start refurbishing Darlington -- situated east of Toronto on Lake Ontario -- this fall. The project aims to extend the life of the CANDU reactors, scheduled for permanent shutdown in 2020, by 30 years.

The government projects the rebuild will create up to 11,800 jobs a year at the height of construction and generate $14.9 billion in economic and spinoff benefits.

Greening argues the units are in need of rebuilding prematurely because their pressure tubes and feeder pipes will soon fail fitness tests. He also warns the reactors' massive steam generators, which are not part of the proposed project, have had a less than stellar track record and will more than likely need replacement.

"Replacing these steam generators is fraught with very serious problems, both technical and economic, that could prevent the continued operation of Darlington beyond 2030," says Greening, a senior scientist with OPG until he retired in 2000.

"The decision to proceed with the refurbishment of Darlington could prove to be a disastrous mistake if it is discovered that steam generator replacement is in fact needed in the next 10 to 15 years."

Environmental groups also argue such projects always run massively over budget and have cost taxpayers untold billions in the past and refurbishment is simply not worth the potential radiation risk to public safety.

The Ontario cabinet has so far given the green light to refurbish one of Darlington's reactors. OPG would need separate approvals for each of the other three units. The government said that process would allow it to call off the project at each stage if things are going awry.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, who argues the province needs Darlington's power, referred questions about Greening's criticism to Ontario Power Generation.

OPG spokesman Bill McKinlay said Wednesday the federal nuclear regulator noted Greening's concerns before giving the project its stamp of approval.

"We've been preparing since 2009 and we're ready to deliver the job safely, on time and on budget," McKinlay said. "We expect it will provide 30-plus years of clean, reliable base-load power at a cost lower than other alternatives."

Greening, however, argues the project is an attempt to put a "dying industry on life support" at the taxpayer's expense.

"The inconvenient truth is that, after less than 25 years of operation, Darlington NGS is a mess," he says.

"Its feeder pipes are falling apart and its pressure tubes are ready to crack. Darlington is another failed CANDU station desperately in need of a fix."

The performance of four other refurbished CANDUs in Ontario, he argues, has fallen well short of what a new reactor typically delivers.

"This reveals the uncomfortable truth: A refurbished CANDU reactor is no substitute for a new one."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Tropical storm Beta spurs hurricane fears in Texas

    World News CBC News
    Here are the 10 AM CDT Key Messages for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Beta?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Beta</a>. <a href="https://t.co/TPHxdsqPHH">pic.twitter.com/TPHxdsqPHH</a>&mdash;@NHC_Atlantic An exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season was churning along Saturday as the Texas coast prepared for a tropical storm that's forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before breaching its shores in the week ahead. Source
  • Ginsburg's death draws big surge of donations to Democrats

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Democrats raised more than $50 million in the hours after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, demonstrating how the liberal icon's passing and the contentious nomination fight that lies ahead have already galvanized the party's base. Source
  • Denis Shapovalov beats Grigor Dimitrov to advance to semis at Italian Open

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada's Denis Shapovalov is through to the semifinals of the Italian Open. The No. 12 seed from Richmond Hill, Ont., edged No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals Saturday to notch his first career win in three matches against the Bulgarian. Source
  • Stolen books worth C$4.2M found hidden under Romanian home

    World News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Books written by historical figures including Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton were among the hundreds of pieces of stolen literature found under a home in Romania. Roughly 200 books, valued at about £2.5 million (C$4.2 million), were found hidden beneath a home in Neamt, Romania, London’s metropolitan police announced on Friday. Source
  • Ethiopia charges prominent critic with terrorism-related offences

    World News CBC News
    Ethiopia has charged its most prominent opposition figure, Jawar Mohammed, and 23 others with terrorism-related offences, telecom fraud and other crimes, the attorney general's office announced Saturday. They could face life in prison if convicted. They are scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Source
  • Firefighters look to seize on favourable weather as winds push California wildfires into desert

    World News CBC News
    Winds pushed an unrelenting wildfire burning in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles deeper into a Mojave Desert community, but firefighters looked to seize on more favourable weather on Saturday to protect homes and make headway in their nearly two-week battle. Source
  • Thai protesters hold massive rally to push demands for democratic reforms

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of demonstrators defied police warnings and occupied a historic field in Thailand's capital on Saturday to support the demands of a student-led protest movement for new elections and reform of the monarchy. Organizers predicted that as many as 50,000 people would take part in the two-day protest in an area of Bangkok historically associated with political protests. Source
  • Minneapolis to name stretch of street for George Floyd

    World News CTV News
    MINNEAPOLIS -- A stretch of a Minneapolis street that includes the place where George Floyd was killed will soon be named in his honour. Although the street will still be called Chicago Avenue, the city will refer to the blocks between 37th and 39th streets as George Perry Floyd Jr. Source
  • Trump urges Senate to vote 'without delay' on his U.S. Supreme Court pick, 6 weeks before election

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday urged the Republican-run Senate to consider "without delay" his upcoming nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks before the election. Source
  • B.C. government extends temporary patio and alcohol delivery rules

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's provincial government is extending rule changes put in place to help restaurants cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The province announced Friday that it would extend measures put in place in May that allowed restaurants, bars and other establishments to expand their service areas - such as by creating new, temporary patios - to allow for better physical distancing. Source