Data show Ontario's
coal-fired plants have to go
July 17, 2002
TORONTO (CP) -- An Ontario coal-fired
generating station is Canada's worst single source of
air pollution, spewing more chemicals into the air than
do four provinces, a report released Wednesday shows.
Based on federal data, the report by the Ontario
Clean Air Alliance shows the Nanticoke plant on the shore
of Lake Erie emits more air pollution than each of Saskatchewan,
New Brunswick, Manitoba or Nova Scotia.
The Nanticoke plant alone is responsible for six
per cent of all air pollution in Canada, 13 per cent in
Ontario, according to the data from Environment Canada's
national pollutant release inventory.
Figures show Nanticoke produced 7,640 tonnes of
toxic pollutants in 2000, the latest year for which data
Among those pollutants are numerous chemicals that
are known health and environmental hazards.
They include arsenic and mercury, potent neuro-toxins,
sulphuric and hydrochloric acid, key causes of acid rain,
and chromium and nickel, which can cause cancer and birth
The plant also produces dioxins and furans, both
among the most carcinogenic chemicals known, the report
Ontario Power Generation, the province's publicly
owned generating utility, insists it is meeting all regulations
set out by the province and is installing equipment to
reduce some of its toxic emissions.
But Jack Gibbons, of the clean air alliance, said
that proves the province needs much tougher laws.
"The regulatory regime is just not strict enough,"
"They're very weak regulations that allow (Ontario
Power Generation) to emit excessive amounts of pollutants
that are causing a very serious public health hazard."
Environment Minister Chris Stockwell was not available
Although he has labelled the amount of pollution
caused by Ontario's five coal-fired plants as "insignificant"
compared to those in the northeastern United States, he
has also said the province needs the plants.
Shutting them down would cause power shortages,
Stockwell has said, although he conceded that eventually,
they should be phased out.
Stockwell has also said deregulation of electricity
generation will encourage the building of new, cleaner
plants and promote environmentally friendly sources of
generation, such as wind and solar power.
Gibbons said the province can't afford to sit back
and wait for that to happen.
"Deregulation by itself isn't going to solve the
problem," said Gibbons.
"We're hoping now that (Stockwell) will develop
a firm timetable for phasing out the coal plants and develop
a strategy for doing it."
Last year, former environment minister Elizabeth
Witmer directed that Lakeview, another generating plant,
would have to stop burning coal by spring 2005 or shut
"That's what we need to do with the four other coal-fired
power plants, starting with Nanticoke," said Gibbons.