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Towards a Nuclear-Free Canada

Despite over 50-years of development and government support in Canada, nuclear power continues to be plagued by cost overruns, technical problems, accidents and the ongoing problem of how to manage its legacy of high-level nuclear waste.

In spite of having lost all credibility as a clean, cheap, safe and reliable energy source, the nuclear industry and its suporters still hope to build new nuclear power plants in Canada. Survival for the Canadian nuclear industry also depends on keeping its 22 aging CANDU reactors operating. But this will be no easy task – by 2020 all of Canada’s nuclear reactors must be shut down, unless our governments choose to wager tens of billions of dollars on risky reconstruction projects.

Sierra Club Canada works to encourage Canada to follow the lead of other nuclear dependant countries, such as Germany and Belgium, that have legislated the planned phase-out of their nuclear reactors in favour of green energy options and energy efficiency.

Like Canada, both Germany and Belgium are Kyoto signatories, but in spite of the nuclear industry’s claim that nuclear power is a viable solution to climate change, these countries have recognized that you don’t trade one environmental problem for another. Nuclear power is, in fact, in conflict with Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Renewable energy and efficiency technologies are cheaper, cleaner and safer.

Canada needs to make a formal commitment to phasing out centralized nuclear power and coal stations, and assist in the orderly and just transition for power workers and their communities. By adopting a clear path to nuclear phaseout, Canada can send a strong message that it cares about the environment and that the market for green energy is open for business .

Information and Resources

A Green Energy Plan for Ontario

June 2006 - While the McGuinty government has taken the position that new nuclear plants are required for Ontario's future electricity requirements, a coalition of environmental groups have released a report outlining how the province's electricity requirements can be met through clean energy projects and efficiency. The report shows that energy efficiency and low-impact renewable energy sources are capable of providing twice the projected electricity needs of Ontario by 2020.

Nuclear Power: Not Safe, Not Clean, Not Economical, Not for Ontario

The McGuinty government in Ontario has announced that it plans to pour an additional $45 billion into nuclear power. It’s a technology that has a proven track record of being unsafe, unsustainable and uneconomical. Many people in Ontario believe that $45 billion in public expenditures could be more safely and effectively invested in renewable energy and conservation. We agree.

Keeping the Lights On! Lessons from California

When faced with an electricity crisis, California didn’t panic and waste billions on impractical nuclear power plants; they conserved and reduced electricity demand by 10% in a single year!

Sierra Club of Canada’s Response to the December 2005 Ontario Power Authority Report

In December 2005, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) released a report on electricity planning, which included the recommendation that existing nuclear reactors in Ontario be refurbished and new nuclear power reactors be built.

There are less risky and less damaging sustainable ways of meeting the electricity needs of consumers and industry. In fact, nuclear power is the most expensive and least reliable option.

Let’s end Ontario’s nuclear power age

Other countries have seen the light, and it’s not nuclear powered. Unfortunately, in Canada, Ontario remains mired in its misguided commitment to nuclear power. The old guard still advocates that we dig an even deeper hole and jump in by rebuilding old nuclear plants and building new ones. Ontario’s electricity debate has focused on public vs. private electricity. The real issue should be the technologies used; their cost and environmental impacts.

Nuclear Reactors

Information about nuclear power reactor safety, waste, subsidies, exports and other issues

An overview of the issues

There are 22 CANDU nuclear power reactors in Canada. As these CANDU reactors have aged, they have experienced increasing technical problems and dramatically poorer performance. SCC’s overview provides the details.

Food Irradiation

Background on Food Irradiation (see the Safe Food and Sustainable Agriculture Campaign)

Plutonium (MOX) fuel

Links to information about weapons plutonium (MOX) fuel and the effort to import it into Canada

Depleted Uranium

Background information on depleted uranium (DU) weapons

The CANDU court case

Information about the sale of CANDU reactors to China and Sierra Club Canada 1997-2003 court case

Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout web site

Sierra Club Canada is a participant in the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout

"There are five key building blocks to a sustainable transition away from central coal and nuclear power plants and toward a more sustainable energy future. ... These key elements were combined in different ways to produce a scenario for the electricity systems in Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick in which all central coal, oil, and nuclear power plants would be phased out by 2020."

Read CNP's
Phasing Out Nuclear Power in Canada – Toward Sustainable Electricity Futures

(PDF, 2 MB)

Élimination progressive de l'énergie nucléaire au Canada – Vers des ressources énergétiques durables pour l'avenir

(PDF, 1.7 MB)

  Take Action

Action Alert

Tell Dalton McGuinty that there are alternatives to nuclear power in Ontario

The McGuinty government has released its response to recommendations of the December 2005 Ontario Power Authority (OPA) report on future electricity needs in the province.

The focus of both the OPA report and the response of the Ontario government is not on renewable energy and conservation; it's on nuclear power - a technology that has a proven track record of being unsafe, unsustainable and uneconomical.

NIRS Media Release

All Levels of Radiation Confirmed to Cause Cancer

The National Academies of Science has released an over 700-page report on the risks from ionizing radiation. The BEIR VII or seventh Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation report on “Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation” reconfirmed the previous knowledge that there is no safe level of exposure to radiation—that even very low doses can cause cancer. Risks from low dose radiation are equal or greater than previously thought.

Sierra Club of Canada National Office