OTTAWA — Quebec Premier Pauline Marois announced Thursday that the province's only nuclear power plant would be closed, as activists went to court to try to prevent new reactors from being built in neighboring Ontario.
Marois, speaking at the first caucus meeting since her party swept to power on September 4, said she was acting on an "election campaign promise to close the Gentilly-2 nuclear plant."
The Hydro Quebec power station, located on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River some 100 kilometers northeast of Montreal, opened in 1983 as part of a plan to build up to 35 reactors in the province.
Authorities shut the plant down in July for a Can$1.9 billion overhaul, but Marois said that plan is being scrapped and the reactor will not be restarted. However, she gave no timeline for decommissioning the plant.
"I want this gesture to become a symbol of Quebec's commitment to the environment and to the well being of generations to come," Marois said at a press conference.
The plant provided a mere two percent of Quebec's total power generation, which also includes hydroelectric power generating plants on rivers in the north.
Separately, Greenpeace Canada and the Canadian Environmental Law Association asked a federal court to overturn a license issued to Ontario Power Generation to prepare its Darlington site for a pair of nuclear reactors.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on August 17 issued the Ontario utility company a ten year license to prepare the site, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, for the reactors.
Greenpeace and the Canadian Environmental Law Association say the commission failed to ensure that a proper environmental review was conducted before the license was issued.
"It's ludicrous that Ontario is still pushing forward with new reactors when just last week Japan decided to phase out its nuclear reactors because of the Fukushima disaster" said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst with Greenpeace Canada.
"Canadian authorities should take nuclear risks just as seriously as the Japanese and respect Canadian environmental protection law."
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