Government urged to halt push for new fleet of nuclear reactors

Civil society groups across Canada urge federal government to rethink small modular  reactor deployment, citing risks to the public, environment and future generations

Oct 30 2018

Toronto – Over 20 civil society organizations from across Canada are calling on the federal government to say ‘no’ to nuclear industry pressure to spend taxpayer resources on the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMR).

“So-called Small Modular Reactors are just the nuclear industry’s old promise of producing ‘cheap, safe and clean’ power recycled into a new request for taxpayer dollars. The federal government shouldn’t support these unproven risky reactor designs,” said Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch.

SMRs are compact and unproven reactor designs, producing anywhere from 1 MW to 300 MW of electricity, and proponents say they could be deployed in communities across Canada. Despite claims of being cleaner and safer, they will still produce long-lived radioactive waste and require protection from liability for the federal government in the event of an accident.

In their letter to the Ministers of Environmental and Climate Change, Natural Resources and Science and Sport, the organizations state that the government has not carried out a transparent, public dialogue on possible federal support for SMRs. Instead, they have consulted the nuclear industry only. As a result of these industry consultations, Natural Resources Canada is set to release a policy roadmap for the development of SMRs next week.

“Gambling on untested reactors is foolish when we could invest more in proven technologies like renewables. The Trudeau government would be wise to consider how the federal government has been duped into wasting taxpayer dollars on nuclear industry proposals in the past,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada.

The groups say SMRs will just add to Canada’s nuclear waste legacy and divert investment from safer, less costly and more socially acceptable renewable energy technologies.

“We know the nuclear industry is lobbying to exempt SMRs from assessments under the proposed Impact Assessment Act, but these are exactly the type of projects that should be subjected to an environmental review. We urge the federal government to not succumb to pressure to subsidize SMRs with either tax-dollars or cuts to public oversight,” said Theresa McClenaghan, executive director and counsel at the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).

The full text of the letter sent to the Ministers may be found on the CELA’s website: https://www.cela.ca/no-to-smrs-in-canada.

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