This is a response to the letter from Gideon Forman, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, who claims that we need to phase out coal and nuclear power to protect human health.
As energy supply is the very cornerstone of our economy, employment and standard of living, it is essential that decisions made about our power generation and distribution system be based upon fact and technical viability.
Forman, who holds a Masters Degree in philosophy from McGill University, states that nuclear energy is not healthy and that a German study found that children living near nuclear facilities had an elevated risk of leukemia.
Yet Michael Binder, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, has already responded publicly to this claim by Forman in stating, “Studies have shown over and over that people living near nuclear power plants are as healthy as the rest of the population.”
“When Forman mentions the 2008 German study, he fails to tell you that both its authors and the German Radiological Protection Commission specifically ruled out radiation as a reason for the presence of some clusters of childhood leukemia near the nuclear plants.”
Dr. Ross McKitrick, of the University of Guelph, recently released a study in which he looked at the health risks from the two coal-fired plants in Ontario.
He found that the emissions from these plants are small compared to the emissions of the coal plants of the northeastern United States and that the Ontario government had received information years ago which indicated that closing our two coal plants would do little to change air quality in Ontario.
If natural gas generating stations are built to replace coal, then the change in air quality would be less due to the emissions from gas generation. Dr. Forman does not mention that natural gas generating stations are being built to supply back-up generation for renewables, and it is important to consider all facets of the issue. http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/ross.html
An interesting article by Caithness Windfarm researchers in Scotland reveals that up to April 1. 2008, 482 wind energy accidents had been reported, with 49 fatalities. If you compare these figures to the safety record of nuclear energy in Canada, it is obvious that alarmist claims about nuclear energy are not supported by the facts.
Forman quotes Dr. Arlene King, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, when she stated, “the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.”
The operative words in this statement are “to date”, as there has never been a proper epidemiological study performed.
Ontario citizens must take the time to look past rhetoric and seek out factual information on sources of power generation.
Nuclear energy has provided our province with safe, affordable and reliable electricity for decades and it will continue to be a valued part of Ontario’s energy supply plan.
LYNNE DI COCCO, KINCARDINE