This column was originally published in the June 25, 2006 issue of Northern Life.
Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant who writes extensively on mining issues. firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to pollution concerns, the recent announcement to keep coal-power plants open was not easy for the provincial Liberals, but Ontario is facing power shortages. They had no choice. It was a tough but pragmatic and responsible decision.
The government still plans to replace coal-fired generation as soon as possible without compromising electricity production. Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks is mercury contamination.
Before the GTA’s Lakeview plant closed last year, Ontario’s five coal-fired stations produced about 527 kilograms of mercury which was almost one-third of all mercury emissions in the province.
The McGuinty government has been severely criticized for backing out of its commitment to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to reduce toxic mercury discharges by 50 percent – now an unattainable goal. However, there is a solution for mercury pollution. Peat fuel – a biomass energy source-is abundant in Northern Ontario.