Plant has longterm effects

Hearings delayed on Lake Ontario nuclear power site

Public hearings on a nuclear power plant on Lake Ontario were postponed following an overflow of interventions and comments from the public.

Discussions on the possible refurbishment and continued operation of the Darlington Nuclear Plant were set to be held in Courtice, Ont. last week, but were pushed until early December.

The Darlington nuclear site is the closest nuclear power plant to Kingston.

The refurbishment of the nuclear site would allow the plant to run for another 30 years and continue to account for about 30 per cent of electricity generated in Ontario.

The proposals brought about discussion surrounding nuclear energy and the environmental and health effects the plant might encompass.

Leslie Bothwell, ArtSci ’14, is against the refurbishment and believes that renewable energy is the way to ensure a better future power generation.

Bothwell told the Journal in a statement that while nuclear power reduces carbon emissions, the waste it leaves behind is a great and unfair task to leave for future generations to deal with.

“The efficiencies of solar power technologies have skyrocketed in the past three years, making these an increasingly effective source of energy,” she said. “With investments the efficiency will improve even more.”

Others share her support for renewable energy sources.

“This is really a decision that will weigh on [Queen’s students] heavily,” said Warren Mabee, a professor in geography and the School of Policy Studies. “We want the cleanest and friendliest technology that we can come up with and I do think that it’s going to be some of the renewables that are going to win ultimately.”

Mabee estimated it may take up to two generations to make improvements to nuclear technologies.

Solar technologies have been advancing and can improve at faster rates than a nuclear reactor design can and thereby improve waste management, he said.

Mabee noted there are two kinds of nuclear waste: the highly radioactive waste needed to be cooled in giant water pools and the low radioactive waste consisting of clothing and materials that has come into contact with radioactivity.

All nuclear plants in Canada keep their waste on site.

“It means that those sites are essentially stockpiling waste,” Mabee said.

Although there have been no major issues surrounding waste management at the present time, Canada has no future plan in place to deal with these wastes, Mabee said.

Despite the ever-improving renewable power sources, the provincial government believes the refurbishment of the Darlington plant will help play a large role in their plan to create a healthier and more environmentally friendly Ontario, Nauman Khan, a spokesperson for the Minister of Energy, told the Journal via email.

“We’re phasing out coal by 2014 to create a healthier environment for all Ontarians, doubling investment in renewable [energy], investing in and expanding our hydro assets, and maintaining our commitment to clean, reliable and affordable nuclear power.”

The price, dates and scope of the project are not yet determined according to Khan, but the project will create an estimated 6,000 jobs in Ontario.

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