Canada should look to wind energy in a disaster

Not much survived near the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but the wind farm plants are still standing strong. The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility says BC should take note.

The organization’s Gordon Edwards says wind power is helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis, and no radiation is being expelled.

"If you want to have reliable electricity that is going to be available after such an event wind turbines would seem to be one of the best ways to go. Fuel prices don’t go up. The air is basically free, so once you build the windmill the operating cost is virtually zero."

He adds the wind energy is supplying the power for those working on the nuclear reactors in danger of meltdown. "That’s the nice thing about renewable energy, it doesn’t leave this terrible legacy for our children and grandchildren. But it also seems to be able to ride out in even these terrible weather conditions."

A coalition of environmental groups, artists, scientists and politicians, including members of the Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire, met in Montreal Monday to call for the permanent closure of the Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor.

The meeting was not inspired by the nuclear energy troubles in Japan but rather to coincide with the deadline for submissions the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on the refurbishment of Gentilly- 2. Hydro-Quebec has planned to upgrade the facility at the cost of two billion dollars.

Gordon Edwards, who heads the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility was one of about a dozen leaders who disagreed with plans to spend big money to spruce up the plant that supplies less than three percent of the province’s power. "It’s a waste of money. Quebec doesn’t need nuclear power," said Edwards. "We could buy a lot of renewable energy for two billion dollars."

Edwards pointed to countries such as Germany which have replaced many nuclear plants with renewable energy sources such as windmills. Opponents of nuclear power in Quebec cite the potential danger that comes with technology, which range from terrorist attack to technical foul-ups.

One speaker noted that while Quebec isn’t vulnerable to tsunamis such as that which destabilized the system in Japan, the province could be at risk of a power outage which could make it impossible to pump water required for cooling. The speakers asserted that Quebec’s wealth of hydro-electrical power puts the province in a position to not need nuclear energy.

Some argue that the money that Hydro Quebec put aside for renovations would be better served decommissioning the nuclear plant and investing in employment programs for the Trois-Rivieres area where the plant is located.