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

  • Manitoba premier hurt while hiking in New Mexico

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has been injured while hiking in New Mexico. A government statement says the premier was hiking in the Gila Wilderness when he had a serious fall. It says he suffered compound fractures in his left arm, along with numerous cuts and bruises. Source
  • Nebraska government says latest pipeline leak won't affect Keystone XL decision

    World News CBC News
    Nebraska state officials said Friday an oil spill from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota won't affect their imminent decision to approve or deny a route for the related Keystone XL project. A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Public Service Commission said Friday that commissioners will base their decision solely on evidence presented during public hearings and from official public comments. Source
  • Pope to feed hundreds of poor at special Sunday lunch, Mass

    World News CTV News
    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis will be offering several hundred poor people -- homeless, migrants, unemployed -- a lunch of gnocchi, veal and tiramisu when he celebrates his first World Day of the Poor in the spirit of his namesake, St. Source
  • Crown seeking to revoke Const. Forcillo's bail, officer remains in custody

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Crown is seeking to revoke the bail of a Toronto police officer convicted of attempted murder in the death of a teen on an empty streetcar. Const. James Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 shooting of Sammy Yatim, but had been out on bail while appealing his conviction. Source
  • 10,744 more Kennedy assassination records released

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The National Archives on Friday released 10,744 FBI records -- some that have never been previously disclosed -- related to the assassination of Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It's the fifth release of Kennedy assassination records so far this year. Source
  • Mistrial at fraud and corruption trial of Quebec construction mogul Tony Accurso

    Canada News CTV News
    LAVAL, Que. -- The fraud and corruption trial of well-known Quebec construction boss Tony Accurso has ended in a mistrial. The judge presiding over the case says he was left with no choice after some of the jurors were given information pertaining to a key witnesses. Source
  • Britain names first woman to ceremonial role of Black Rod

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Queen Elizabeth II has approved the appointment of the first woman as Black Rod, the House of Lords official who is instrumental in the state opening of Britain's Parliament. Sarah Clarke, currently director of the Wimbledon tennis championships, will assume the 650-year-old post early next year. Source
  • Bombardier hiring 1,000 to work on Global 7000 business jet

    Canada News CBC News
    Bombardier is hiring about 1,000 workers in the Montreal area to work on its Global 7000 business aircraft program, the company said Friday. The company said the workers will be hired over the next 18 months for interior completion work on the aircraft. Source
  • NATO apologizes for Turkey 'enemies' incident, blames civilian contractor

    World News CBC News
    NATO's secretary general apologized to Turkey on Friday over military exercises in Norway during which Turkey's founding leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were reportedly depicted as "enemies." Erdogan said Turkey withdrew 40 of its soldiers participating in the drills at NATO's Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway, in protest of the incident and slammed the alliance. Source
  • 113,000 names, companies in Paradise Papers leak now public

    Canada News CBC News
    The public will get a glimpse at the tens of thousands of names — including those of more than 3,000 Canadians and Canadian companies — in the Paradise Papers starting today. Key information from the huge leak of tax-haven financial records, including the names of offshore companies and the people behind them, is being made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Washington-based group that co-ordinated global reporting on the documents. Source