Ford Government Plan to Extend Life of Nuclear Plant Invites an Energy Disaster for Ontario

“Extending the life of a nuclear station that has long exceeded its engineering life span. …The Pickering Station (along the northern shores of Lake Ontario)  has a long history of serious accidents.”

A Message from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, a citizens advocacy group for clean, renewable energy

Posted September 29th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Thanks to its absolute refusal to consider much  lower cost [] renewable sources and energy efficiency, the Ford government has landed on the idea of once again dragging out the life of the old and unsafe Pickering Nuclear Station.

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance, of which Angela Bischoff is a part of, is calling on Ontario Power Generation to invest in a safer interim storage solution for Ontario’s nuclear waste. Meanwhile, the Alliance has been oppositing any extension of the life of nuclear power facilities like this aging Pickering station along the norther shores of Lake Ontario.

This terrible idea is where you end up if you ignore  better alternatives [], like rapidly expanding use of much lower cost solar and wind, getting back to promoting ultra low-cost energy efficiency to lower bills while saving power, and cooperating with your energy rich neighbours in Quebec.

Faced with strong public concern about the  climate consequences of a huge surge in the use [] of gas-fired power plants, the Ford government has opted for the highest cost and highest risk response: Extending the life of a nuclear station that has long exceeded its engineering life span. As the  third-oldest nuclear station [] in North America, the Pickering Station  has a long history of serious accidents, [] and its poor performance played a key role in requiring Ontario to ramp up the use of coal-fired power plants in the early 2000s.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford repledges his support for spending billions on upgrading aging nuclear power plants during a visit in the spring of this 2022 to the Pickering nuclear plant.

An even worse idea than extending the life of this trouble prone plant is thinking about rebuilding its ancient reactors. Already, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is forecasting that the rebuilding of its much younger Darlington Nuclear Station will  increase its price of nuclear electricity by 30% by 2027 []. Re-building the Pickering Nuclear Station would cause OPG’s rates to rise even more. This at a time when  study after study [] shows that a strong embrace of renewable sources can dramatically lower energy costs.

As it is, the Pickering station has the second highest non-fuel operating costs for any nuclear plant in North America, with costs that are triple those of the continent’s best-performing plants. Its  aging and brittle pressure tube system [] is a nightmare in the making – economically and for the safety of us all.

Meanwhile, under the Ford government’s plan, the Pickering plant – which is  surrounded by more people than any other nuclear station in North America [] – will continue to produce  deadly radioactive waste [] for which we have no long-term storage solutions. And knowing that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will review plans for a life extension won’t help us sleep better at night – the CNSC  has never turned down a nuclear plant licence application [].

In the press conference announcing its dubious plan to once again extend the life of a plant designed in the 1950s and‘60s, and constructed in the 1960s and ‘70s, no member of the Ford team could bring themselves to say anything positive about  renewable energy, efficiency, or cooperation with Quebec []. Instead, we got a lot of happy talk about building more nuclear.

For a government that prides itself on fiscal responsibility,  pie in the sky claims [] that nuclear energy will reduce costs are laughable at best, alarming at worse.

Claiming that the plant has operated “without incident” for 50 years and that we have adequate waste storage solutions is equally baffling.  Neither claim is even remotely true. []

Instead of indulging in empty talk, the Ford government would be well advised to take another hard look at where its energy plan is taking this province: Toward an outdated 1970s power system based on a mix of high-cost nuclear and polluting gas that will simultaneously raise our electricity rates and climate pollution.

This is not a system that will make Ontario economically competitive. Instead, it will leave this province as the big loser when it comes to the global green transition, having bet on the wrong horse while watching others take the lead.

What you can do.

Please send a message [] to the Ford government and Opposition Leaders telling them that you want Ontario to invest in the energy efficiency and renewable electricity options which will move us to a zero-carbon electricity grid and lower electricity bills.

Send your message here []

Thank you for making the time!

– Angela Bischoff, Director, Ontario Clean Air Alliance

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), established in 1997, successfully led the campaign to phase out the use of dirty coal power in Ontario. We are now working to move our province to a 100% renewable electricity system. This includes replacing our high-emission gas power plants and high-cost nuclear power stations with a combination of conservation, made-in-Ontario wind and solar power, and water power imports and storage from Quebec. Together these would lower our electricity bills and greenhouse gas pollution. For more info click on :

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2 responses to “Ford Government Plan to Extend Life of Nuclear Plant Invites an Energy Disaster for Ontario

  1. We all need to have a supply of iodine pills on ‘standby’.


  2. Extending the operation of one of Pickerings reactors isn’t a disaster as you claim. The nuclear industry is the safest in the world and unlike other countries, our industry is owned and operated by a government agency that is overseen by Atomic Energy Canada. This province, especially the GTA is going to grow by another 3 million people by 2040 to 2050. Wind and solar will never have the capacity to produce constant base flow energy. Hydroelectricity is the best, but all possible sources are non-existent. You are being alarmist and not responsible by making such claims. Smaller nuclear facilities are the future that will generate power to communities throughout Ontario. Same old rhetoric and non-sensical opinions.


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