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Given what we now know about the cost of nuclear power, why is Ontario ready to throw good money after bad to refurbish the Darlington Nuclear plant?
I admit I was young and naive back in the late 1970s when I boarded a school bus at Queen’s Park and travelled along with a shaggy group of protesters 70 kilometres east to demonstrate against the construction of the $4-billion Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. Some brought blankets to help scale the barbed-wire fence — and did that — but most of us just milled around for a few hours before leaving on the same yellow buses that had brought us.
If only we had known then the true cost of Ontario’s 20th-century nuclear empire — how after paying $30 billion to finance Darlington and its kin over the next three and a half decades, Ontarians would still owe $4 billion for the job in 2014 — the protest might have been more effective. Given the foresight, no sane citizen would have bought that deal.
But hindsight is a good enough proxy today as the engineers at Ontario Power Generation rush to complete their plans to refurbish the aging, still-not-paid-for nuclear complex — with the estimated costs of that $13-billion project seeming to rise every few months like alarm bells that never stop ringing.
History is repeating itself, but it’s no farce. With the Darlington refurbishment, Ontario risks another half-century or more of crippling debt to produce inherently dangerous, over-expensive electricity with ongoing waste-disposal costs calculated in molecular half-lives. It was a big mistake the first time, but can only be folly the second time around.
The impending decision on the fate of Darlington is something all Ontarians should consider as they fume over the stubborn persistence of that “Debt Retirement Charge” on their hydro bills — and the very real chance, if the Wynne government approves the new Darlington job, that their grandchildren will still be paying it.
The debt in question is the $20-billion overhang left by the breakup of Ontario Hydro in 1999, almost all of it the result of runaway nuclear costs, with Darlington responsible for the lion’s share of those.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/07/09/ontarians_have_no_excuse_for_being_naive_about_nuclear.html