The following is a letter from the Federation's Office of Systemic Justice. Executive Director Sr. Sue Wilson writes to our Federal Minister of Natural Resources with four reasons on why nuclear reactors are not a sustainable or just path forward to address climate change.
Below this letter you will see a related new campaign to limit more nuclear power in Ontario.
February 10, 2022
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Natural Resources
House of Commons
Dear Minster Wilkinson,
We are writing to urge the federal government to focus its support for the development
of low-carbon energy on renewable energy sources rather than nuclear energy.
The emerging technology of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) is often touted as
an important tool for addressing climate change. While it is true this technology creates
no carbon emissions while generating electricity, the drawbacks still outweigh the
First, given the IPCC warning that urgent climate action is needed by 2030 if we are to
cut the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty, the timeline for the
development of SMRs is too slow for this technology to useful in the mitigation of
Second, this technology is more expensive compared to a focus on renewable energy
sources and energy efficiency.
Third, there is no satisfactory solution to the problem of how to deal with high-level
nuclear waste. Keeping it above ground, as happens currently, leaves it vulnerable to
natural disasters and criminal acts. On the other hand, disposing of spent nuclear fuel
underground, is not without significant concerns, including worst-case scenarios such
as poisoning groundwater or soil. While modelling suggests underground disposal can
be done safely, these models have not been tested.
Fourth, Canada’s vast uranium reserves pose significant environmental and health
risks, including radiation exposure in workers, radioactive water left behind in massive
tailings ponds, and the contamination of clean lakes. MiningWatch Canada also points
to issues of Indigenous rights, noting that many of these mining operations have
displaced Cree and Dene people from their homes and territories.
Given these concerns, we urge the government to focus on supporting the development
of renewable energy sources, as well as measures for energy efficiency, to meet its
climate action commitments.
Sue Wilson, CSJ
Executive Director, Office for Systemic Justice
Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
A new campaign by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance
Now OPG is proposing to build a new reactor at the Darlington Nuclear Station in the GTA. Power from this reactor will cost an astronomical 16.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This makes no sense at a time when solar and wind projects are delivering power for 3-7 cents per kWh and Quebec is offering to sell us waterpower at 5 cents per kWh. As well, OPG is planning to use untested technology that only exists on paper — there are no examples of this technology in commercial operation anywhere. And, of course, because we have no long-term storage solutions in place for the radioactive waste this reactor will continue to produce, its waste will continue to be stored in temporary facilities on the shore of Lake Ontario. This project is a dangerous and costly distraction from what we really need to be doing to address climate change — increasing efficiency, expanding renewable energy and cooperating with Quebec.