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Four Reasons for No Nuclear: a Federation response

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.

Letter To Minister Wilkinson re Nuclear Energy
Download PDF • 125KB

February 10, 2022

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,

Minister of Natural Resources

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario,


K1A 0A6

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

climate change.

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.

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