Underlying all of this security breach stuff is the fact that AECL is as incompetent as the minister in charge. The AECL refurbishment up at Bruce is now known to be more than 400 days behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Par for the nuclear course, I realize, but how can Ontario even consider AECL's unproven ACR-1000 design for its ridiculous $26.6 billion commitment to unneeded new nuclear builds?
That $26 Bn will undoubtedly turn into 10's of billions more and we all know who pays for these cost overruns.
Of course, Ontario could choose France's Areva to build the new reactors. They're 42 months behind schedule on their only contract to build the same new generation EPR reactor that is being considered for Ontario. Areva's Finnish project is running 60% over budget. On top of that, Finland was depending on Areva to be on time so that Finland would not face multi-million dollar penalties under Kyoto. In addition to the cost and time overruns, the Areva build also has safety shortcomings.
Governments need to face up to the fact that nuclear is the most expensive and least reliable option for meeting energy needs. We dole out lavish corporate welfare to these nuclear giants and, in turn, they use that money to lobby governments and mount public relations campaigns aimed at convincing decision makers and the public that they are selling a viable product.
The secrecy surrounding nuclear costs is only the tip of the iceberg. What are we not being told about lapses in safety and nuclear security? We are creating stockpiles of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel without any permanent storage solution. These stockpiles are guarded by paramilitary swat teams who must constantly upgrade their capabilities to stay ahead of terrorists and rogue states. We are saddling countless future generations with these security costs all so we can continue to waste energy like there's no tomorrow.
As far as the isotope crisis goes, watch for Harpoleon to pull a rabbit from the hat. The research reactor at McMaster Universty is to be upgraded with a paltry $22 million and part of that sum is intended isotope production.
In a statement, McMaster University said, "As Canada's only nuclear reactor outside of Chalk River capable of producing medical isotopes, the funding will be used to upgrade McMaster's physical infrastructure to expand Canada's isotope research and production capacity, to enhance research activities and train personnel for the nuclear industry and health care sectors."There's just one little problem. The Mac reactor, like the Chalk River dinosaur, is 50 years old. Throwing good money after bad seems to be the singled-minded goal of both the federal Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals.
What is somewhat surprising, though, is that when Minister Raitt was being grilled in QP the other day, she seemed to know nothing about the plans to upgrade the Mac reactor. More incompetence? Tony Clement failing to step up and defend his collegue? One hand unaware of what the other hand is doling out?