The Empire Strikes Back?

Evil Nuclear EmpireIn a rare demonstration of a nearly non-Leftists bias, the Toronto Star printed an article that shows that it’s still capable of presenting slightly balanced views of contentious issues. In this case, it offered some visibility for a realistic presentation from the Organization of CANDU Industries (OCI) which offered clear insights into the effects of replacing two proposed nuclear reactors with the equivalent in renewable sources. In particular, the OCI demonstrates the physical scale of both the solar and wind turbine installations that would be required to match the energy production available from a nuclear site measuring 1.6 square-kilometers. In the end, the Star’s article simply took this issue as another opportunity to discredit nuclear energy, by (indirectly) claiming that the facts aren’t complete.

So in an attempt to right the scales abit, we’ll off our own slant on the subject as well…

Nuclear Threats…Imagined or Real?

Clearly the editorial staff at The Star chose to tip their hand again by titling the article “Nuclear Industry Blast Renewable Power”. This serves as a not so subtle reminder to their readership of their irrational fear of nuclear explosions, and possibly to stir up more ignorance around the imaginary threat that a nuclear reactor could ever actually explode. As is the custom at The Star, the Comments section of the online article is closed for this and all other complex or controversial subjects. Perhaps this is a safeguard against the possibility that the Commentariat might offer more rational or factual insight into the subject, than would otherwise be made available by the paper itself.

Who needs Facts?

As for the OCI, they presented their own facts to a gathered panel that’s been studying the environmental impact of new reactors at Darlington. The three week hearing process ended this past Friday without any ceremony, after Greenpeace activists disrupted their commencement with a well covered publicity stunt to delay their opening.

Ironically, only one media camera crew (CTV) managed to capture the important off camera comments from representatives at the hearing. Organizers who could be clearly heard saying, “if you could simply stop your dissruption, you could be invited to actually take part in the proceedings”.

As is so often the case, the purpose of that demonstration wasn’t about taking part in a clear-headed debate. Rather it was to just gain visibility in the daily news, with a minimum of added context, for an issue that Greenpeace prefers to simply continue stoking with irrational fear, rather  facts and understanding.

As a result, environmental groups continue to use such hearings as a Media event to simply smear the nuclear industry with broad and indiscriminate brush strokes and paint them as a threat to human health and the environment. One that the John Spears parrots “will leave a legacy of highly toxic waste for centuries to come.”

Of course the OCI would disagree.

“These plants would act as a catalyst to rejuvenate the nuclear industry and revitalize the Canadian nuclear supply chain, creating thousands of high-paying jobs locally and across Ontario,” OCI’s general manager, David Marinacci, told the panel.

The Star’s business writer then balances his article, not by pointing out the very real damages and ongoing threats of fossil-fueled electricity and transport, but at least by saying that “Replacing proposed new nuclear plants with renewable power could mean overwhelming the landscape with solar panels or wind turbines, a pro-nuclear lobby group has argued”

The OCI is the pro-nuclear lobby group in question, and provides a graphical representation that puts their claim into more readily understood context:

OCI - Organization of CANDU Industries

Marinacci also cited a Conference Board of Canada study that predicted building new reactors in Ontario would kick-start Canada’s nuclear industry. That in turn would provide momentum for exports that would contribute between $34 and $55 billion to the Canadian economy.

Other Experts Also Weigh-In

Although her background on subjects relating to energy and engineering isn’t immediately clear, Ms. Jocelyne Beaudet was also on the panel. She suggested that wind turbines produce more power than the OCI had estimated, and therefore fewer turbines and less space would be required.

Ms. Beaudet is a consultant with more than 25 years of experience in various fields related to the environment and public participation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physical anthropology from the University of Montreal and a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from McGill University, and has developed communications plans and public consultation strategies for numerous environmental initiatives.

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