On many fronts, 1997 was a watershed year for Energy Probe and Canada’s environment.
On May 23, NB Power backed down on its threat to sue us for saying “NB Power is not being responsibly managed,” “the utility responded to many of (Energy Probe’s) criticisms with incorrect assertions and incomplete information,” and “the response of NB Power’s management to the recent problems raises a concern about the management’s judgement in nuclear operations.” After we documented the truth of our statements to their lawyers, it withdrew its suit.
On August 13, Ontario Hydro announced its plan to close seven more reactors (one was already closed in 1995). After new revelations about Ontario Hydro’s “nuclear cult” surfaced, the truth about the cost of nuclear power started to come out. We expect that the ultimate costs of the whole nuclear program will be far higher than Ontario Hydro, the federal government, and the other nuclear proponents have claimed. Energy Probe will continue to uncover the human, environmental and economic costs of this irresponsible experiment. Now that the public at large is beginning to understand how we have been lied to about costs, there is much more critical attention addressed to the nuclear industry’s myths about safety.
We also continued our work against the radioactive waste practices of the nuclear establishment and nuclear pollution.
During the fall hearings of the Ontario government’s Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Nuclear Affairs, we argued that nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning liabilities should be responsibly funded, as they are not now. We prompted Environment Canada to investigate whether or not radioactive emissions are legally “toxic” to hon-human species. Due to our continuing efforts, that investigation shows promise of restricting emissions, especially from uranium mines and mills. In direct response to our critiques, the Atomic Energy Control Board agreed that radioactive emissions to the environment – not just doses received by humans – should be kept “as low as reasonably achievable” – something unprecedented in nuclear regulation. We hope to use this principle to fight one of the nuclear industry’s favourite “waste management” measures – dilution.
Our efforts to avert the irreversible burial of radioactive wastes have borne fruit in another arena. In mid-October, the federal government and the town of Deep River, Ontario announced that they will stop trying to build a repository near Deep River to contain the low-level radioactive wastes from Port Hope, Ontario. Instead, the federal government will work with the town of Port Hope to stabilize the wastes in monitorable, retrievable form near Port Hope. (Earlier, the federal government had proposed burying the wastes irreversibly in deep caverns mined under Lake Ontario near Port Hope. After hearing arguments from Energy Probe, local environmentalists, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, and Dr. David Suzuki, Port Hope decided that it would not support that proposal.)
We upgraded our Internet site on Canada’s notorious Candu reactor exports to China, coordinated our work with other human rights and environmental activists around the world, provided information to the press, and responded to information requests. One of our priorities now is to draw public attention to our Prime Minister’s plan to sell more nuclear reactors to Turkey, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Korea.
We also worked hard throughout the year advocating alternative sources of electricity from environmentally and economically responsible sources like cogeneration, biomass waste, and other renewable sources.
Some of our campaigns dealt directly with consumer interests. For example, before the Ontario Energy Board last summer, Consumers Gas agreed to reduce costs for homeowners and small businesses by $1.5 million dollars in response to Energy Probe’s evidence showing that the meter reading costs for Consumers Gas were three to four times too high.
In 1998, we will continue to work for the interests of the environment, taxpayers, and consumers. Because we get less than one-tenth of 1 per cent of our revenue from corporate donations and no government donations, you can count on us to be Canada’s voice for sustainable development in energy. Please donate to help us continue our work.