I received a letter commenting on a column I wrote a few weeks ago on the dangers and risks of nuclear power. The letter came from an employee at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) via their public affairs department. It made me realize the OPG is a bit sensitive to what their employees tell the public. And I wondered if they had censored the letter because it came across like company propaganda — spewing the words “safe and clean” like frisbees in a dog park.
The issue is that if an accident like the Chernobyl explosion were to occur at the Pickering power station, most, if not all, of the population of Toronto would die from radiation exposure and Toronto would be uninhabitable.
But the process of nuclear power generation does not create greenhouse gases and so the nuclear power supporters have jumped on this tidbit and sold it as the entire truth without acknowledging that the process of nuclear power generation includes the toxic waste it produces. To discount the waste when summing up nuclear power as “clean” is to create a false impression to the general public. The nuclear power generation process, from start to finish, is so toxic that it is lethal. To call it clean is to lie to the public.
Despite propaganda, the truth does eventually rise to the surface, and the truth is that the process of nuclear power generation creates the most damaging and toxic waste products of all of our energy sources to date. The other claim that the OPG and the Nuclear Power Association want the public to swallow is that nuclear power generation is safe. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize that creating toxic waste and storing it 50 kilometers from the largest city in Canada is NOT safe!
So why do they try so hard to put a positive spin on nuclear power? Nuclear is a huge industry that requires huge resources and, not surprisingly, it pays a lot of people very well — from the bankers financing it to the construction companies cashing in on it. I don’t think the people promoting nuclear today are tyrants or evil at heart, but I can’t think of even one true leader who stands out among them… they are a group of people thinking like middle managers — fighting for their livelihood and their belief that the vitality of Ontario’s economy is worth the risk of a catastrophe.
That there isn’t simply one person who is responsible for a possible disaster is what made nuclear power generation possible. The nuclear supporters know full well the outcome of a disaster; they know that the more complex a system is, the higher the likelihood of risk. But it is far easier for an impassioned group to risk everything than it is for one person to take responsibility for such a decision. That’s what the Nazi propaganda machine depended on — people hiding within a group, distorting the truth to serve their own purpose. Sure, one man started it but the group made it happen — and today the scary thing is that same group mentality is what the nuclear industry operates on.
Nuclear has proven that you don’t actually have to operate as a profitable business so long as you provide the energy the public demands. If renewable energy were to get the government backing it needs, it too wouldn’t have to be profitable. But I have an inkling that it would be, simply because the philosophy behind renewable energy is a good one.
I had another reader state that “nuclear will be the future.” Canada may have a lot of uranium now, but research estimates that our supplies will last 30 to 60 years, depending on use. This means that by the time all the upgrades and new nuclear installations are completed, there will not actually be any uranium to run them. So to say that nuclear will be the way of the future misses the fact that there isn’t a future for nuclear.
Today almost 51% of the power used in Ontario comes from nuclear power generation. Without it the OPG wouldn’t have a hope in hell of filling the public demand and black-outs across the province would occur. And the government responsible for stopping them would lose public support immediately. So the impetus to change isn’t going to come from the government.
Change has to start here, in the public realm; it starts with me writing about the truth; it starts with others debating the issues. Change starts with the banker who decides to support the solar company looking for capital. Change starts with each and every one of us learning the truth and placing value on it. What are you, on a personal level, going to do?
My suggestion? Switch to bullfrog power. The company was created to divert hydro payments away from nuclear and coal to clean renewable energy sources. By signing up you virtually pay a fee to make sure that your payment for the energy you use each month goes directly to clean, renewable energy sources. You can find them atwww.bullfrogpower.com