The nuclear renaissance: the way forward is through Ontario

Ontario has achieved stunning emission reductions since 2003. The chart shows that this was due almost solely to the return of the Pickering and Bruce nuclear generators that were mothballed in the mid- and late 1990s. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

As you can see, when the Darlington nuclear units came on line in the early ’90s, coal declined. When the Pickering and Bruce nuclear unts were taken off line in the mid-’90s, coal shot up. When the Pickering and Bruce units began returning to service in 2003, coal dropped. Hydro power, the other major contributor to Ontario’s system, stayed more or less constant over the 16 year period. It is nuclear, and nothing else, that has displaced coal generation since 2003. And the emission reductions have been massive: 15 million tonnes less in 2006 than in 2003.

Anti-nuke activists don’t like to hear this. When I mentioned it on The Agenda back on March 15, the two anti-nuke people on the panel wasted no time trotting out the tired old “lifecycle” nag, claiming there are “huge” emissions associated with uranium mining. When they said this, the other pro-nuclear person, Bruce Power’s Duncan Hawthorne, rolled his eyes and shook his head. The lifecycle claim is preposterous, and the anti-nuke people know it.

Still, advocacy campaigns based on even flimsier arguments have succeeded. Greenpeace specializes in these kinds of campaigns. So nobody should assume superior argumentation will win the day.

What will win it? I’ll take this up in upcoming posts. Stay tuned.

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Randal Leavitt
16 years ago

I guess the graph will dip in 2007 due to the ridiculous decisions made at Pickering to shut down two reactors because their backup systems were not working. I don’t know what the constraints are, but this approach makes the backup system a liability instead of an availability benefit. These reactors would be more available if they did not have backup systems.

Arguing about facts with fanatics is a waste of time. The facts have to be given to the general public. When the public stops being scared by the fanatics, the fanatics will lose interest. There is no thrill in giving scary speeches to an empty hall.