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

  • Students in Australia kick off global strike for climate action

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of students took to the streets of Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries on Friday to kick off a global strike demanding world leaders who are gathering for a United Nations climate summit adopt urgent measures to stop an environmental catastrophe. Source
  • New Liberal gun-control policies coming soon, as firearms lobby gears up for a fight

    Canada News CBC News
    A re-elected Liberal government will ban some types of "assault-style" rifles, as well as introduce additional restrictions on where firearms can be possessed or stored, according to Bill Blair, who has been the party's pointman on gun control. Source
  • The science behind why vaping is becoming so popular in Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    Vaping is quickly becoming a lot more popular with Canadians, despite what little is known of its long-term health effects. Experts say part of the reason for the surge in use in such a short time is the evolution of the devices themselves. Source
  • Do parties even have to put out a platform? Your election questions as Week 2 begins

    Canada News CBC News
    We've been hearing from voters across the country and expats around the world curious about all aspects of the upcoming federal election. As leaders criss-cross the country, curiosity has been piqued. Here's what you were asking as the campaign entered its second week. Source
  • Older Canadians reinvent themselves as 'seniorpreneurs' — in hopes it'll pay off

    Canada News CBC News
    'Seniorpreneurs' are part of a quickly growing group of older Canadians who are choosing to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 — some as a financial necessity, others because they simply aren't ready to call it quits. Source
  • Love it, list it or litigate? Home reno show crew denies liability after disgruntled couple sues

    Canada News CBC News
    The producers and a contractor behind the home reno show Love It Or List It Vancouver have denied all the accusations made by a dissatisfied couple who sued them last year, saying all the renovations at the heart the lawsuit were completed properly. Source
  • Why a 'just transition' doesn't have to pit jobs against the environment

    Canada News CBC News
    One of the recurring themes among some politicians and business leaders is that climate change presents a binary choice between preserving jobs or the environment. But that's not the way Dwaine MacDonald sees it. MacDonald is one of the co-founders of Trinity Energy Group, a company based in Stellarton, N.S. Source
  • Mexico's Los Cabos braces for approaching storm Lorena

    World News CBC News
    Owners pulled boats from the water and hauled them away on trailers, while shopkeepers put plywood over windows and doors as Tropical Storm Lorena bore down on Mexico's resort-studded Los Cabos area, predicted to arrive Friday at hurricane force. Source
  • UN says North Korea faces widespread food shortage

    World News CBC News
    North Korea's crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 per cent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday. Source
  • B.C. man shown with Trudeau in brownface photo says he doesn't believe Liberal leader is racist

    Canada News CBC News
    One of two men shown posing with Justin Trudeau in one of the infamous photos of the future prime minister wearing racist makeup says he wasn't offended then, and he isn't offended now. Sunny Khurana's children were students at Vancouver's West Point Grey Academy in 2001, when the school held a fundraising gala with an "Arabian Nights" theme. Source