Wednesday 5 November 1997
Town of Pickering
Mr Wayne Arthurs
Nuclear Awareness Project
Mr Dave Martin
Mrs Sally McLeod
Mr Joe Pacione
Ms Suzanne Elston
Mrs Karen Paul
Canadian Nuclear Workers' Council
Mr David Shier
Mr Maurice Brenner
Mr John Wells
Mrs Dawn Roper
Ms Sherry Senis
Mr Kevin Ashe
Clarington Hydro Electric Commission
Mr George Van Dyk
Mr Dave Clark
Ms Pauline Storks
Ontario Hydro employees
Mr Peter Falconer
Mr Bob Peters
Mr Dave Milton
Mr Frank Adamek
Mr Rick Marshall
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ONTARIO HYDRO NUCLEAR AFFAIRS
Chair / Président
Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)
Mr Sean Conway (Renfrew North / -Nord L)
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce PC)
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mrs Helen Johns (Huron PC)
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights L)
Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt ND)
Mr John R. O'Toole (Durham East / -Est PC)
Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms Donna Bryce
Staff / Personnel
Ms Anne Marzalik, research officer, Legislative Research Service
Mr Robert Power, legal consultant
The Chair (Mr Derwyn Shea): Let me bring the select committee on Ontario Hydro nuclear affairs to order. We have a long afternoon and a bit of an evening before us as well.
A special thanks to the members of the Atomic Energy Control Board for the briefings this morning, and also to Ontario Hydro management and staff.
As you know, the committee had chosen to meet here at a midway point because of a number of deputations that are coming in both from Darlington and Pickering. This was seen as a reasonable meeting point, although I have just very quickly glanced at comment from one of our deputants who, I think fairly, points out some concerns about location, and I understand and respect that point of view. But at least I think we've made a case of why we are here and the interest we have in hearing from the residents surrounding both of the facilities. It is very important.
I'd also like to thank Mr Ouellette -- we are in his riding -- and Mr O'Toole, who is also a sitting member nearby, for his courtesies and his welcome into this community. We appreciate that very much.
Are there any comments you want to make, Mr O'Toole, before we begin?
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'd just like to welcome members to the community. We're in Jerry Ouellette's riding, and I know Jerry would like to observe the behaviour going on here today. It's good to see the community involved, and Mayor Arthurs, and I'm pleased to hear the response from the community.
The Chair: There are a number of deputants, as I mentioned. There are different time frames for some. There are a number, as you'll notice, as we get towards the latter part of the day that have voluntarily clustered together so they can make a presentation, facilitate their presentation and give a little more time to the committee to ask questions. Whatever time is allocated, whether it be 30 minutes or 10 or 20, includes the question-and-answer period, and I will as usual be reasonably crisp with the gavel.
TOWN OF PICKERING
The Chair: Let me being with welcoming to the witness stand His Worship Wayne Arthurs, the mayor of Pickering. Mr Mayor, if you would be good enough to come forward, and for the purpose of Hansard, although I have introduced you, if you would be good enough to mention your name so we have it on the record.
Mr Wayne Arthurs: My name is Wayne Arthurs and I am the mayor of the town of Pickering.
Mr Chairman and members, thank you very much for the opportunity of presenting before you today, and to Mr O'Toole, whose riding is within the regional municipality of Durham. We've had the pleasure of sitting together on regional council for a period of time.
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. For the record, I have served on Pickering council for some 15 years now and have been the mayor and a regional councillor for the past nine years. I'm here to represent the views of the residents of the town of Pickering and my council.
Before I go any further, I would like to point out that while we all know why I am here in respect to speaking to the Pickering nuclear generating station, I understand why this committee chose to convene this meeting in Oshawa. Surely, though, this committee must recognize that the serious issues surrounding the continued operation of the Pickering nuclear station are of some considerable interest to the residents of its host community. A more appropriate location for today would have been in Pickering, yet here we are in Oshawa.
Against a background of an ever-increasing list of incidents directly related to the safe operation of the Pickering station, all of which have contributed to a growing mistrust, the residents of Pickering and their elected representatives believe they have a right to expect that the government of Ontario would be keenly interested in these concerns. At the very least, they have a right to express these concerns in an accessible location within their own community.
While one might consider the location of this meeting to be a small issue when contrasted against the mandate of this committee, it is one that only serves to increase the public's perception that their voices are not being heard. You should know that there is a complete collapse of public confidence in Ontario Hydro in respect to its nuclear operation within the town of Pickering. The residents of Pickering don't know who or what to believe or whom or what not to believe.
The simple fact is, Ontario Hydro cannot be counted on to provide answers. A cursory review of recent history is evidence enough that there continue to be problems at the Pickering station and that the list of questions needing answers is growing exponentially. I would draw your attention to the attachment within the submission referencing the Durham Emergency Measures Office Incident Report to give you but an example of the number of incidents being reported to our constituents. That only addresses the period from mid-1995 until mid-1997. If we were to step back to December 1994, you would see the magnitude of the concern when the major incident occurred at that point in time.
How do we get the questions on the table and how do we get the answers when Ontario Hydro and, might I suggest still at this point, the provincial government seem intent on maintaining a fortress mentality? The barricades remain up and we are left knocking on the door. We're left to try to sort fact from fiction. It almost appears that there is a considered information management plan in place that is designed to keep the facts from the public. This fortress mentality leaves us all to deal with the negative impacts that are the result of conjecture, rumour, misinfommation and an increasing number of unattributed information leaks.
Without question, the overwhelming need to provide a vehicle that will result in clear answers has to be a priority of the government of Ontario. At this critical point in time, when the entire future of nuclear generation is under review, surely the need to open and sustain a meaningful dialogue with all the stakeholders has be priority number one.
To that end, as the mayor of the town of Pickering, I met with the then Minister of Environment and Energy, the Honourable Norm Sterling, on June 16 of this year. In that meeting with the council of the corporation of the town of Pickering, I urged Mr Sterling to undertake and initiate a broad public review of all the issues surrounding the continued operation of the Pickering station. I was not alone in this request. I had the support of my council and of numerous community-based organizations which have been active in reviewing various aspects of the operation of the station.
When I had not received a response from Mr Sterling in early July, I wrote to him reinforcing our need to have that response. Again that communication merited no response. Subsequent communications, including a letter dated September 10, also met with no response.
I must say that recently I was advised that a letter sent to me in the latter part of August referencing the establishment of this committee as a result of Mr Andognini's report was presumably the response to my request for a broad public review. I certainly didn't interpret it as being such. You'll find the various correspondence attached from those months both to Mr Sterling and to his successor.
I somehow can't imagine that Mr Sterling felt that my requests were completely without merit, yet I find myself before you today literally making that same request while incidents continue to occur at Pickering, rumours continue to circulate and questions are left unanswered. I don't need to remind the members of this committee of what transpired in August this year, but I can't help thinking that if Mr Sterling had demonstrated a sincere interest in our request for a review and subsequently acted on it, the impact on the residents of Pickering of Mr Andognini's report to the board of directors of Ontario Hydro somehow might have been lessened. Had Mr Sterling responded in the affirmative, the residents of Pickering would have had a forum through which to express their concerns, ask their questions and get their answers.
I am not here today to conduct a lengthy review of past history. You've had that already. I am here to let you know that we have taken an initiative that hopefully will help us to get that positive response from Queen's Park. In a bylaw passed by my council, we have authorized the following question to be placed on the ballot of the regular municipal election to be held next Monday. It will read, "Are you in favour of the Ontario government holding a full public review under the Environmental Assessment Act of Ontario prior to any decision being made to restart the Pickering A nuclear generating station as well as during the continued operation of the Pickering B generating station?"
I fully expect to get an overwhelmingly affirmative response from my constituents to this question. I fully expect that the individuals who are elected to serve on the next council will continue to demand action from the government of Ontario.
It is clear, it is simple: Pickering demands an independent review wherein all the questions can be asked and all the answers received, an open review wherein all interested parties will have an equal opportunity to have their voices heard.
Ladies and gentlemen, time is ticking away. Confidence in Ontario Hydro is at an all-time low and we are left to sort fact from fiction. We need leadership from the province, we need clear direction from the province and, above all, we need to have the assurance that we will be heard.
While we are on the subject of time, I want to share with this committee some information that has come to me directly. Perhaps, given the subject matter, we should spend a few moments synchronizing our watches. The information I have been given is specific to the infamous year 2000 problem. It deals with the age and condition of the computer systems and their programs in use at the Pickering station. I am told that the year 2000 problem, if not solved, could result in system failures.
Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that the information I have tells me that the year 2000 problem was raised earlier this year, early this summer, as I understand it, with the board of directors and senior management of Ontario Hydro and they are fully aware of it. I am not aware that any substantive action has been taken to address the problem as of this date.
I strongly suggest to this committee that they recall Mr Farlinger and ask him when and how Ontario Hydro intends to deal with the year 2000 issue. Time is tick, tick, ticking away. I thank you for your time and interest and I look forward to your questions and comments.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Arthurs. We appreciate your deputation. There are 10 minutes for each caucus and we will ask the questions in rotation. I will begin today with the Liberal caucus.
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Thank you, your worship. I take it that you still have no communication from the Minster of Energy to your letter of some months ago about the matters raised.
Mr Arthurs: The only response I have received was a letter in late August which I assume was merely a recognition of the establishment of this committee. The only way I could establish that it was intended for the purpose of response to my earlier correspondence was from the Office of the Ombudsman because our council had asked the Office of the Ombudsman to intervene to seek support, and the response coming back was, "The letter you received in August was the minister's response."
Mr Conway: Your submission has about it the general tone of exasperation. Would that be a fair --
Mr Arthurs: Yes.
Mr Conway: You have been around Durham region and Pickering for some time, I take it?
Mr Arthurs: I've been a Pickering resident since 1975 and have served on council for 15 years.
Mr Conway: How would you characterize the relationship between Ontario Hydro at the Pickering station particularly and the community of Pickering over the course of that 15-year time that you've been on council?
Mr Arthurs: I think there was a tremendous amount of early confidence in the professional operation of the plant, the expertise that one assumed was there operating, managing, running the facility, the senior management, I guess, of Ontario Hydro, although people didn't think of that. They thought of the plant. People who live in our community work there. We trust their judgement. We know their families are there.
During the past number of years, and I would suggest starting in particular in December 1994, that confidence began to erode quickly. I would suggest that as of this summer, as I have said, it is at an all-time low, if not entirely collapsed. It is the topic of conversation at the doors in this municipal election. People want answers. They are not suggesting that they are afraid for their health or safety today in an imminent way, but they are concerned. They want answers, they want the truth and they want a process whereby there are people at the table they can identify with.
Mr Conway: You've told me that over the last 15 years the relationships were pretty positive, and quite positive in the beginning of that 15-year cycle, but they have worsened appreciably in the last two or three years. What explanation, from your point of view as the mayor, would you have for that positive relationship deteriorating? What kind of analysis have you made as to why it has gotten worse? Are there some changes in the personnel down there?
Mr Arthurs: There certainly have been changes in personnel coming rapid-fire in the past couple of years. The number of incidents has increased. Hydro's response to those, or lack thereof in many cases, until very recently was: "Everything is okay no matter what occurs. Don't worry. We'll take care of you. Everything is all right. It's not a problem."
Mr Conway: Did you see the CBC television news program of about 10 days ago, two weeks ago?
Mr Arthurs: I had the opportunity to review it on video. I didn't see it when it was presented.
Mr Conway: Has that program given rise to much comment around the doors you've been visiting in this municipal election campaign?
Mr Arthurs: The doors I have been at haven't made much specific reference to any particular incident or documentary or news release. It has been more of a general statement of concern, wanting access, wanting a process, not wanting to abandon the community out of fear in any way nor to sit back and simply say that things are still okay. People want access. They want a process.
Mr Conway: Thinking about issues like fire protection and emergency preparedness, how would you characterize your confidence level, as a municipal politician in Durham region, about the state of emergency preparedness and fire protection?
Mr Arthurs: I would suggest, based on the information we have, that the plant in and of itself is inadequately prepared for any major fire-related activity. They are extremely dependent upon the ability of the local fire service to do that on their behalf.
More particularly on the emergency preparedness issue, I am exasperated -- the word you used earlier -- in my dealings with Ontario Hydro, with Emergency Measures Ontario in the emergency planning area. Some time ago -- I can't recall the date, but we'd certainly be happy to provide the documentation -- I met with Ontario Hydro, with Emergency Measures Ontario, with the CAO of the region of Durham, Mr Garry Cubitt, to impress upon Ontario Hydro their responsibility for emergency planning in Durham region because we have nuclear facilities as, it's been referred to, bookends within the community. Their response was a head scratch and saying, "Isn't your mandate the region?" so I'm having difficulty establishing what the business case would be for us to be involved in emergency planning.
Mr Conway: You've anticipated my next question: What has been your sense about the proactive involvement or other kinds of involvement from the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Emergency Measures Organization, the fire marshal's office to issues like fire protection and emergency? Do you ever get a call from the fire marshal saying, "Your worship, we'd like to go and have lunch and talk about how we might improve the fire protection issues around these nuclear stations"?
Mr Arthurs: I'd suggest, unless it's been initiated from within or as a result of an incident, that it has been for the most part non-existent.
The Chair: Thank you. I've shaved it down just a touch because I was a little too generous with time and I knew you'd pick me up on that one, so I thought I'd do my mea culpas before you got to me first.
Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I'm concerned about a number of things. I wondered, since I don't live even anywhere near this community, if you'd help me out. You talk about "rumours continue to circulate and questions are left unanswered." What kinds of rumours circulate presumably about Pickering A, perhaps B as well?
Mr Arthurs: Community rumours. Sirens go off onsite on occasion, which is an internal activity. Does that mean, the rumour goes out, it's a complete evacuation? There's a non-nuclear incident onsite. I recall not all that long ago a fire situation. The bells go off, the whistles go off, an employee or two or someone calls home to say, "Look, we've had a little incident there." Suddenly it's around the neighbourhood, like, "We've got an evacuation going on." They escalate quickly. They can move around the community quickly on occasion.
Mr Laughren: I think you implied that there wasn't concern for community safety. Did I hear you wrong?
Mr Arthurs: I don't think there's a concern day to day for the imminent safety of the community. It is a sense that it's not a benign industrial facility. People have been comfortable in the past that there are regulatory mechanisms, but there's a recognition that if there is an incident, the risk then is high. I don't think the community at large feels that on any daily basis they should be concerned about their particular safety, but they recognize that there is a risk factor, and it's a significant one if something did occur. There's not the confidence that people are handling that, particularly at the most senior levels of management, not so much the fellow or lady who's working in the plant directly.
Mr Laughren: I was going to ask you about that because we were in another community that has a nuclear generating station, namely, Bruce. There was a sense that people respected and trusted the local folks who ran the nuclear station but didn't like or trust the people on the 19th floor, as they called it, the head office of Ontario Hydro on University Avenue. What is your sense of that? Do you get along well with the local folks and not so well with the head office too?
Mr Arthurs: I wouldn't say it's a matter of not getting along with people; that has never been an issue for us. The local people we deal with who work within the environment they work in are quite positive about it. They feel strongly about what they do and about their ability to manage what they do. But when we have our attention drawn to issues such as the year 2000 problem, which apparently has gone unaddressed by the board of directors when it was presented directly to them, it leads one to question. Those ladies and gentlemen who are working in that organization might be scratching their heads at this point too, going: "Have we addressed it? If so, who addressed it and when? Because it hasn't happened in my terminal this week."
Mr Laughren: The reason I'm trying to get at this is that I would categorize your brief as being a very tough one. It's a very strong, tough brief --
Mr Arthurs: It's meant to be.
Mr Laughren: -- about Pickering nuclear. I'm trying to get at what underlies that very serious concern, almost anger, that you have about Pickering. I'm trying to get at what it is that's leading to that. I'm having difficulty.
Mr Arthurs: Our experience in the town of Pickering over the past 20-odd years is that our constituents often make reference to our community as a dumping ground. They make reference to it when we see the issues on Hydro as a dumping ground for a nuclear operation, a dumping ground for waste in the Brock West landfill site, with efforts to establish other landfill sites by a number of governments, regional and provincial.
That anger emanates from the dominance of senior levels of governments upon the local community, expropriations of 25 years ago, both provincially and federally, an underlying sense of wanting to have ownership for what goes on in your community and it being denied you on an ongoing basis, and the frustration at this point in time that we are seeking a legitimate process under the Environmental Assessment Act or some type of broad public review so we can get all the stakeholders to the table and share openly to rebuild the confidence, if warranted, and it's being ignored. That's the anger, that's the frustration that exists.
We want to ask the questions that demand answers, but we don't have an adequate forum to do that. You and I as elected representatives singularly and solely will not provide the degree of public confidence. Others have to be at that table whom people can feel connected to. You do your job extremely effectively, but the broad public will not take just your word for it. There are others they want to hear from around the table. They want to feel that it has been shared. Our community is one that has been through airport expropriations, provincial expropriations, multiple landfill issues and the Hydro issues. It's a microcosm, I guess, of issues that would be a concern to any community. We understand and have been involved in those. We want ownership for what goes on in our community and it's being denied.
Mr Laughren: I don't want to reopen old demands that were made before this committee was struck, but what would satisfy you more? Would it be an independent inquiry with experts on a panel? Is that what would give you and your community more satisfaction?
Mr Arthurs: No, I think what we're asking for at this point is to use the legislation that's in place, to take from that legislation a process that would bring together an environmental assessment process that would look not only at the continuing operation of B and the activity during the shutdown of A, but would do the environmental assessments they're supposed to do, look at alternatives, seek the advice of community and others about alternatives.
Where are we going in energy? I think this is a real opportunity for the government to show substantial leadership in how we deal with issues as significant as energy within our communities, how we engage our community, how we seek answers to where we're going next, share the responsibilities with community, and if we do that, then we will have the type of buy-in and the outcomes that come from that process. I think the processes are there under the legislation that's currently available.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you, Mayor Arthurs, for your presentation. I certainly understand the frustration. You've expressed it very well. Just for the record, I want to clarify that my intention respects and recognizes the points you've made with respect to where these public meetings were held. For the record, I would also state that I think of the two sites in Durham as completely different. The issues surrounding those sites are different and I wanted them to be treated differently, that is, to be given a specific day for each community. That has been my position all along. As a member of this committee, I think there has been a thorough review of the locations. In fact, we're visiting Darlington tomorrow.
This morning at the Pickering plant we heard a litany of cascading events from the AECB, that they more or less chronologized the issues with respect to the deterioration. They kind of categorized it as this: Between the late 1970s and early commissioning of A and B and into the late 1980s they were optimum plants, they were world-class and well-respected operations. Then they went on to cascade that down into a series of both long-term and short-term incidents, many of which have not been addressed today, a great degree of frustration similar to what you've expressed, and it was made clear to us that you and your council entertained the AECB back in June, I gather, pretty much the same report we had.
I want to assure you, though, that the litany of deterioration I think was heard -- not in defence. We're not here, and certainly I'm not, to defend Ontario Hydro's action, but I think clearly the current chair, Mr Farlinger, and Mr Andognini, and for that matter Mr Kupcis, all of whom we've met before this committee, took command, took charge of the broader issues and more specific issues as well.
I am wondering if you think that the actions taken by Mr Andognini and his turnaround team, if you will, show the kind of leadership you referred to that was somewhat missing?
Mr Arthurs: First, Mr O'Toole, I find it interesting that AECB has suddenly begun expressing the same frustrations constituents are, and they're the guys who are in charge of licensing and ensuring that the plant is well monitored. I find that to be intriguing and very interesting.
Is Mr Andognini in his initiatives showing the type of leadership we're talking about? Yes, I believe he is. He is certainly making the effort to engage the public, but I wonder whether at times it's maybe too little or too late. I wouldn't suggest that he's doing it for this purpose, but the direction might be: "Look, you've got to engage that community out in Pickering. We have to have some defence here, so let's gather them in quickly and say we're doing it." I think his intentions are good. He is obviously a bright gentleman who is knowledgeable in the industry. He's been quite forthright on most issues to this point.
I have to question, though, the issue I raised of the year 2000 problem. He's been there since April. I can only assume as the head of nuclear that he's been party to that process to this point, and to our knowledge it has not been addressed. I don't know whether it's been raised with this committee. I haven't heard that it has.
Mr O'Toole: I want to respond to that. For the record, thank you for raising it. It has not been raised before. Picking up on your comment on AECB, I don't speak for any other members of the committee, but certainly there has been some issue -- today I express it as, who's got the key here? Is it AECB or the Hydro board? That's really the issue: Who really has the ability to say, "No, no more"?
I'm going to bring it back to the purpose of this committee. Mr Laughren referred to it, and I, representing Durham, appreciate being on the committee. The minister asked me to do that, and Mrs Fisher is from the Bruce area and is on the committee, and we have the parliamentary assistant, Mrs Johns, with the Ministry of the Environment. I think the constitution of this committee, reflected in the members on the other side with their great experience -- Mr Conway has been through it, and I mean this respectfully -- if you were to check the record, has been thorough. It has been open to all kinds of dynamics and input.
We are looking for one answer, which is to be reassured that the public safety is not at risk. We repeatedly, each member, ask that question. That's first and foremost. Costs are secondary to safety.
I just want to be clear that I think the minister, Mr Sterling, in the constitution of this committee was asked, as Mr Laughren referred, to go more through a public inquiry process, but there are some legitimate legislative responsibilities that I think we're stepping up to. I'm confident that this will be the kind of report that will be a sound, thorough document for the minister to make future directions and commitments in partnership on behalf of the people of Ontario.
You as a mayor, we have to listen to you. We've listened to every mayor. In fact, I'm pleased that you're here today.
My last thing is to really focus right down into the issue. The only mechanism by which you could express your frustration on behalf of your community, as the visible leader for that community, was through the referendum process. I'm going to put to you my final question and then perhaps Mr Galt would have an opportunity.
Are you a willing host, both short-term and long-term? Are you prepared to work through the dynamics of an aging nuclear facility?
Mr Arthurs: Very much prepared to work through all of the dynamics necessary. This is not a host choice at this point. The facility is there, and irrespective of whether it continues to operate, it will be there for many, many years. I see the work you're doing as excellent work and I see it as a jumping-off point for a public process.
I have to say, though, that at the time, maybe in our more casual discussion around our committee room table, when I first proposed a broad public review, Mr Sterling's immediate response off the top of the head was, "Well, if Pickering and Ajax want to pay for it." Before the meeting was over, he was retracting that comment, but let me suggest that his degree of seriousness at that point was indicative of the lack of response I've had in the past number of months to correspondence.
I see this as a good jumping-off point. I know Minister Sterling in his past portfolio was legitimately concerned. I don't dispute that, but certainly the impression left at that meeting with members of our council, and thus the constituency, was rather flippant. This should be a good jumping-off point for a public process that goes far beyond the political process. It should set the stage as to how we deal with issues of energy matters in this province in the future, a strategy to deal with that.
This question in the ballot is not an expression of frustration. The ballot question was a way to gather my community back together, build a consensus on my council so it did not become polarized between the Hydro workers, the value in property, all of those kinds of things that get raised on the one side, and on the other side, shut it down. I spent some considerable time with the community leaders, in an interactive process through a variety of sources, to gather people to the middle and effectively convince members of my council that the approach to take was to request an environmental assessment and go to our constituents with that question, not a question about closing down plants.
They have responded to that because they understand and want a legitimate probe. It's not frustration. This is not a frustration ballot question. This is a public vehicle. This is a vehicle to express to the government of Ontario the support that I believe my community will put behind this question, to say to you that the vast majority of constituents in our municipality feel this is an appropriate mechanism to deal with this issue. I think, if you asked the public across the province of Ontario in the same way, you would get exactly the same kind of response irrespective of what municipality they live in. It's a matter of concern to every citizen in Ontario, not only in the context of nuclear operation but where we are going in energy provision for the next 20 or 30 years. Fossil fuels don't appear to be a desirable alternative. We've heard that coming out of your government immediately upon discussions about bringing the A side down: "Where are we going to get alternative energy sources?" The public needs to be engaged in that in the interests of the long-term energy provisions of this province.
The Chair: Your worship, thank you very much for attending upon the committee. We appreciate the evidence you've given today and it will be given serious consideration.
Mr Arthurs: Chairman Shea, thank you very much for the opportunity. Members of the committee, I wish you the best in all of your hearings, deputations and your subsequent deliberations and report preparation.
NUCLEAR AWARENESS PROJECT
The Chair: The next deputant is David Martin, research director, Nuclear Awareness Project. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Dave Martin: Thank you very much, Chairman Shea. My name is Dave Martin. I'm the research director for Nuclear Awareness Project. We are a public interest group which deals with nuclear issues and promotes alternative energy strategies. We have been intervenors before numerous regulatory bodies. We have about 500 supporters around the province, about 200 of whom reside in Durham region. Durham Nuclear Awareness, or DNA, which addresses nuclear issues specifically within Durham region, is affiliated to Nuclear Awareness Project, as is Energy Action Project. We can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have given the clerk a collection of materials which I ask to be placed as an exhibit before the committee and which I urge you to peruse.
The bottom line of my presentation here today is that the Pickering A and Bruce A nuclear stations should remain shut down permanently once they are shut down, or laid up, as Ontario Hydro would refer to it. In addition, we don't believe that heroic measures should be taken to rehabilitate the Pickering B, Bruce B or Darlington stations, and that implies an early shutdown of those stations.
The immediate problem, however, in our view is the Pickering nuclear station, since Ontario Hydro intends to begin rehabilitation work, according to Mr Andognini, on January 1, 1998. This in our view is extremely ill advised. There are numerous environmental, safety and economic problems at the Pickering stations.
Aging is the overall factor here. At 25 years of age and over, Pickering has the oldest power reactors in the country. As with any machine, the older these reactors get, the more they tend to break down. However, with nuclear reactors, unlike a car or some other machine, a mistake can have disastrous consequences.
Some of the other problems at Pickering include:
The absence of a second fast shutdown system at Pickering A.
Inadequate fire protection, including the use of flammable silicone firestops. I would note that the Ontario fire code should be applied to Ontario Hydro nuclear stations just as it's applied to any other building.
Emergency plans are inadequate. I note the absence of a direct alerting system and Ontario Hydro's continued opposition to the expansion of the evacuation zone size and its opposition to the pre-distribution of potassium iodide tablets.
There is inadequate seismic qualification for the Pickering stations. Ontario Hydro does not acknowledge the full risk of earthquakes in the Pickering area.
The Pickering site is a high-risk location. There are 1.5 million people within a 30-kilometre radius.
There is an ongoing problem of tritium contamination and other radioactive emissions. Ontario Hydro refuses to adopt a zero emissions policy, as have other large industrial corporations in this province. In our view, the drinking water guidelines for tritium are not strict enough.
I'm sure that recently you've heard about the significant problems relating to the emissions of over 1,000 tonnes of copper and zinc from Pickering. There were also emissions from Bruce. We know as well that Ontario Hydro has covered up for many years the tritium contamination of groundwater and surface water onsite at Pickering.
We disagree very strongly with Ontario Hydro's assessment that the problem is solely managerial. The problems at Ontario Hydro are fundamentally linked to Candu technology and it is a severely flawed technology. In 1996, Candu had the worst performance of all major reactor types in the world. The average Candu performance around the world was 61.5% capacity factor or load factor. Compare that to 77% for pressurized water reactors, 79% for boiling water reactors, 76% for advanced gas cooled reactors. The Pickering A station, to put it in perspective, had a 36% capacity factor and Pickering B 49% -- pathetic. There are numerous generic problems associated with Candu technology.
On the economic side of things I want to note that the IIPA report made absolutely no mention of financial matters. The failure of Ontario Hydro to provide financial information I think speaks volumes, and you've had to drag it out of them. Hydro deigned only to provide at its August 13 announcement a back-of-the-envelope estimate of costs which they pegged at $5 billion to $8 billion. We now know that these figures bear very little relation to the reality.
According to the Ernst and Young review, which you've received, costs will total a staggering $22 billion for the period 1997-2009, and this does not include the $3-billion cost of replacement power. It doesn't include potentially huge costs such as PVC replacement at Pickering or seismic modifications at Pickering. In fact, it's going to be much higher.
Aside from the colossal cost, there is also the shocking revelation that Hydro has made no contingency plans if their assumptions do not prove to be attainable. They've done no sensitivity analysis and they've not looked at alternatives. Perhaps the most alarming assumption I've seen that they've made is that they can achieve an 86% capacity factor, on average, for their nuclear facilities. If you think they can do that, then you probably think that pigs can fly. If they don't achieve that nuclear performance level, something which they've never been able to do in the past, then the plan is a shambles.
What's the solution? My scepticism, with respect, about the ability of the select committee to solve this problem is a matter of public record. Your time line is very short before you and your resources are relatively limited. I don't think you can get to the bottom of the problems that are facing Ontario Hydro. I think you therefore have to look at some procedural alternatives.
I would also note in that vein that the government's restructuring proposal, the long-awaited white paper for the electricity sector, is finally being made public tomorrow. Since public presentations to the select committee -- at least this is my understanding -- end this week, then clearly the public is not being allowed to take the white paper recommendations into account in their submissions to you.
I conclude by saying that you cannot rely upon the Atomic Energy Control Board. The AECB, in our view, has been a lapdog, not a watchdog. They've been asleep at the switch and they've not been willing to get really tough with Ontario Hydro. In any event, the AECB deals only with safety issues in isolation; they're not dealing with economic issues or planning issues such as whether there are viable, cheaper, safer, cleaner alternatives to nuclear power. We conclude that you should recommend an immediate halt to all expenditures for rehabilitation in the nuclear division as well as approvals for expenditures.
As you are now aware after hearing Mayor Arthurs, a referendum is being held on the ballot of the November 10 municipal election in the town of Pickering. The referendum question asks residents whether they support an environmental assessment being held prior to any decision to restart Pickering A and prior to the rehabilitation of Pickering B. The Nuclear Awareness Project supports this assessment because it is an opportunity for all parties to come to the table in a fair and balanced decision-making process. We believe that in the final analysis, with a fair review, the conclusion would be that Pickering A should be permanently shut down and that we should have an early shutdown of Pickering B and other nuclear stations.
I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Mayor Arthurs and the Pickering council for recognizing the magnitude of this problem and for giving the people of Pickering a chance to have their say directly, because they are on the front line.
It's time to take all of these decisions out of the backroom. It's reprehensible that a public entity such as Ontario Hydro should once again be allowed to steamroller over a government and over the public. Ontario Hydro has made phenomenally disastrous decisions in the past, and the fundamental mistake and decision it made was its commitment to nuclear power.
This is by no means a partisan criticism. Governments of all three parties have allowed the construction of the Darlington nuclear station to proceed despite the really insane cost overruns that were taking place and despite the fact that it was not, and is still not, needed. Environmentalists were right when we said that Darlington should be stopped, and I can assure you now that we're right when we say that Ontario Hydro is about to make yet another disastrous mistake.
I think the August announcement has led some people to think there's been a change of heart at Ontario Hydro. This is a wakeup call because nothing has changed at Ontario Hydro. The corporation remains committed to nuclear power. It remains committed to coal generation. It wants to proceed with yet another massive investment in nuclear power to the tune of $22 billion, and probably much more, with no adequate public review. This is a megaproject proposal and it's a mega-mistake. Stop it now and submit the whole thing, the whole nuclear asset optimization plan to a public review under the Environmental Assessment Act. We believe you should do it for the health and safety of the people of Ontario and for the economic welfare of the province. Thank you. I'm sorry if I went over a bit.
The Chair: No, as a matter of fact, I appreciate that, Mr Martin, and there's actually time for one very, very crisp question per caucus, emphasis on "crisp." We'll begin with Mr Laughren.
Mr Laughren: Holy moly.
The Chair: I took up your time.
Mr Laughren: I'm glad you didn't put it in the form of a question. First of all, when you are answering I hope you will tell me when you learned that the white paper was coming out tomorrow. I agree with you on the short time line for this committee. I'm not happy with that either and I think your comments in that regard are appropriate.
What I'd really want to ask you though is, if as a committee we were to take our job seriously -- and I agree with Mr O'Toole's earlier comments that members of the committee will do the best they can given the time frame and the knowledge we have and so forth -- we would need to have a package of alternatives if we were to accept what you recommend. It would have to be a package of serious alternatives with the appropriate time lines in them. I notice that's absent from your presentation. I wonder if you could comment on that.
Mr Martin: The alternative scenarios are absent from Ontario Hydro's documentation. I think that's the salient observation to make.
Mr Laughren: You don't have to.
Mr Martin: I would suggest to you they should be and certainly that was the conclusion of Ernst and Young, Ontario Hydro's own auditor in their September 7 study.
Mr Laughren: No, I'm not agreeing with what they've done; that's not my point. I think that we as a committee, if we are to come down hard on all the nuclear installations, we have to have an alternative package that we propose to the government or we'll look pretty foolish as a committee.
Mr Martin: I think the alternative is a procedural suggestion, because I don't think you have the resources to provide those alternatives; I know I don't. Ontario Hydro, although I think they should have, have not provided you with an adequate range of options. That is why I think the solution is a procedural one; ie, a referral of this entire issue to a process that could give it due diligence, that could provide an adequate review with allowance for public input. I would suggest that process should be under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act in the form of a full public review.
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Thank you for your presentation. It was most interesting. I'd like to just query you a little bit about the AECB and some of your concerns there. Certainly they operate differently in some other countries. Some regulatory bodies, such as in the US, really point the finger -- "There's a problem; fix it" -- whereas they seem to look at it and then give a licence. How would you rearrange the AECB? There's been some criticism there. They've given us some confidence that the place isn't going to blow up, that kind of thing. But you're not trusting them. Why are you not trusting them? What should be done to make that organization give you more confidence in the community?
Mr Martin: Other nuclear regulatory agencies, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the US, take a more prescriptive approach to regulation. In other words, they get involved at a more hands-on level than the AECB does, which basically delegates responsibility to the operator, to Ontario Hydro. That just isn't working and I think the evidence is there in just how bad things have gotten, particularly at Pickering.
Mr Galt: You're recommending more the American style, where they're more prescriptive. They're there all the time. I don't know what they're doing from day to day when they're not being prescriptive like that, but you would recommend that style?
Mr Martin: I think that is going to part of the solution. I think it's also a matter of political will at the time. I think some serious questions need to be asked about the AECB and I certainly hope the federal government is doing that.
Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Mr Martin, I just wanted to get your explanation of the $22-billion figure, the breakdown. I know the figure that appears in the Ernst and Young report, but that's an accumulative one over a number of years and not all of it is really attributable to the recovery plan. If you could just expand on that.
Mr Martin: Yes. I refer you to the table on page 20, schedule 2, of the Ontario Hydro nuclear asset optimization plan assessment of financial estimates, September 7, by Ernst and Young. That's where the $22-billion figure is located. It includes costs from 1997 through to 2009, it includes maintenance and it includes what Hydro refers to as capital expenditures. It does have various other allowances. That's very clearly the bottom line here for the nuclear asset optimization plan. I haven't been able to review the substance of the presentation from Ontario Hydro on the financial aspects. Maybe they gave you more detail. This is the most detail I have seen.
Mr Kwinter: What I'm saying, though, is that $21.672-billion figure that's in there, that is one number, but what I have a problem with is, you're trying to equate the $5-billion to $8-billion recovery plan, to say that really isn't the number, the number is $22 billion. I am suggesting to you that the overall operation of the nuclear division from now to the year 2009 -- and that's maintenance, capital and all of those things -- will be $21 billion. But that is not an incremental cost. The recovery plan is an incremental cost of about $8 billion, more or less. Andognini admitted that they're still plumbing the depths of the problem and we don't know the final costs.
I just wanted to clarify and make sure. I wanted to get it from you where that $22 billion -- if that's the $22 billion you're referring to, that is for ongoing operations that would be incurred with or without the recovery plan, not all of it, because some of it contains that $8 billion.
Mr Martin: The reason I think it's valid to use the $22 billion is that you've, I'm sure, heard this plan referred to as the 12-16-20 plan. Of course, that implies that the A stations will be brought back, that they will be restarted; that's the fundamental basis of this plan. I would suggest to you that it also involves a life extension for the B reactors in Darlington as well. So to suggest that $22 billion really isn't the incremental costs, that that's what we would have paid otherwise, I don't think that's so. I think this represents the basis of, in effect, rebuilding the nuclear fleet in Ontario.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Martin. We appreciate the evidence you've given today and you're excused.
The Chair: I call upon Sally McLeod for a 10-minute presentation. Welcome to the select committee. You have 10 minutes to use as you choose.
Mrs Sally McLeod: Thank you, Mr Chairman. My name is Sally McLeod. I am a resident of Pickering, Ontario. As a resident of Pickering for the past 10 years, I am the citizen who, without agenda, organized the first ever community public hearing on the Pickering nuclear plant.
I hadn't planned on doing this. In fact, I had very few concerns about the plant, our nuclear neighbour, until of course this past summer, and really what a terrifying summer it has been as a citizen: Hydro's admissions of negligent operational procedures; Hydro's admissions of major mechanical breakdowns; heavy water spills; the illegal dumping of 40,000 barrels of some substance on their property; the continuing copper and lead contamination of Lake Ontario; the failing report card, the IIPA; tritium in the lake, a lake shared by the GTA and our American neighbours; tritium in our drinking water; flammable gas leaks, September 6, to be exact. These are not human errors, they are mechanical. I think that's the most important thing to look at: they are mechanical.
What are we to think as citizens when we hear these things? It seemed every week this past summer we'd open up the paper and there would be another incident that happened at that plant -- always mechanical. Sirens going off, with differing explanations to the community. I lived this one, and you know what? At this moment I'm very happy I did because that's why I got involved. It made me, in a sense, come to arms with this whole debate about nuclear and who is in our community.
I was down on Kinsmen field. This is a soccer field that sits directly beside the plant, where no houses can be erected but where Pickering children must play if they want to participate in community sports. It was a beautiful September Saturday morning, 600 families out in the fields, the sun shining, lovely day, and out of nowhere this air raid siren went off, right next door beside these playing fields. It was very loud, very shocking to hear, and then the next thing we knew, this loudspeaker went off and someone was telling all of the employees some message which we could not hear. We all looked at each other and wondered, what do we do? Do you actually get in your car and drive away? Do you just stay calm and try not to tell your children that something's up? They are out there playing. They're not sure what to do. Do we stop our game? They're looking at you for an answer.
This siren is carrying on, and at that moment that's what galvanized this movement in the community. Several of us who had never met each other before looked at each other and we swapped phone numbers and said: "This is it. We have to find out what's going on." We waited. Nobody came from Hydro down to this park, where they know the community is there probably five times a week playing, 600 families, always. We waited for an explanation. Nothing happened. That week we made three phone calls and we got three different answers.
There was also no press coverage for this gas problem, this gas rupture -- that's what it turned out to be. What we found is there is a state of continual mechanical problems; that is the fact. It is also a state of deception, perhaps collusion, when leaks have been going on for 18 years and the public is not made aware. When we made three phone calls attempting to find out what the sirens were for, three different answers came forward. We were first told it was a change of shift. We were then told it was a fire drill. Finally, when we threatened that we were going to the press -- and these are three different people who called -- we were told, finally, that it was a gas leak. We got three different answers. Earlier a question was raised, you wonder why the community is feeling this way: It's because of these situations. We are never told the truth. We have to keep digging for the truth. At that moment, when we got these three different answers, that's when I said, "That is enough."
I will not sit at the back of Hydro's bus any more. That's where they have put this community, at the back of the bus. That's when I decided to organize the public meeting where the community could come together. We would not wait for Hydro to invite us to tell us what was going on. We were going to take it upon ourselves to find out some answers, so we gathered together in September.
What has happened since our public meeting? Well, we've heard revelations of negligent fire protection exposed by the CBC -- not by Hydro. They had those reports; they've probably had them for months. They chose not to come forward to tell us they were going to employ is it 80 firemen? It took the CBC to go and get that. They did not come forward with goodwill to tell the community.
This community, the entire GTA and our government have been treated with such arrogance: that only nuclear people understand nuclear; that they are superior to us; that they are all good people, and they all go to church, so how can they possibly be involved in something harmful? That there are no alternatives but dark and cold; that the Ontario taxpayer will always foot the bill; that they are not accountable to anyone at any level; that their mission statement is not to provide electricity but only nuclear electricity. That was then and this is now.
I am not here to debate nuclear power. I am here to challenge an old, mechanically unsafe money pit of a nuclear plant, and I stand not alone. The Pickering councillors, under the courageous leadership of Mayor Arthurs, have placed a nuclear referendum question on the November 10 election ballot. They chose not to go with my question: "Do you want the Pickering nuclear plant closed? Yes or no." I would prefer this question; however, I am happy to support the compromise of an environmental assessment question. All of us in the GTA have the democratic right to know if the Pickering nuclear plant is safe environmentally. We must know before any more money is spent on extending the life of this old plant. These are machines. We can't forget that. That is what they are. They have a finite lifespan: some say 25 years, which is where we are right now; some say perhaps 40. They are not immortal, they are not divine. They will be decommissioned some day, no matter what, so let's make "some day" today.
The people need a voice. We have a wonderful window of opportunity at this point. The licence expires in March 1998 and we can make a change. The people, as I said, need a voice. They will answer the referendum question, but the real question is, will we be heard? Will the community of Pickering be heard? If we all vote yes on this referendum question, that we do want this environmental assessment done, will it actually be done? That's where you people come in.
I'm asking this committee for your leadership, to join us, to lead us. I'm asking that you demand a full environmental assessment of the Pickering nuclear plant today, a completely unbiased public review with intervenor funding. You people initiate this, this committee. Our community wants the same and we do it in tandem. The three million people who are affected by this nuclear plant demand their due diligence. It is our democratic right. We must have the courage to ask the questions to seek the truth.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs McLeod. That brings you right on the button of your time, and I appreciate your evidence. Thank you very kindly for being with the select committee.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I'd appreciate very much a copy of that presentation. Perhaps some time you could tidy it up and mail it in to the committee.
Mrs McLeod: Sure, my pleasure.
The Chair: That's not a point of order. It is a decent request and I'm sure Hansard will be happy to make sure you get a copy as well, Mr Laughren.
The Chair: Joe Pacione, please come forward and take the witness stand. You have 10 minutes for your presentation and questions and answers.
Mr Joe Pacione: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. My name is Joe Pacione. I am a resident of Pickering. I'm coming to you today as a concerned citizen. My story picks up from where Sally left off, in a sense. Presently I am seeking a position as ward 1 local councillor. In August I was out canvassing and I started to hear the concerns of a lot of the citizens, and sure enough, one of the top concerns was the nuclear power plant. As time progressed, it became one of the top three issues that were out there.
My wife and I have lived in Pickering since 1991 and the nuclear power plant was never a big issue or concern when we moved there six years ago. The leaks and the different reports we read in the paper were of concern, but at the same time it was always in the back of my mind. I always presumed that things were being taken care of there. That was always the perception I had. As time went on, in the last three months I've met about 4,000 people at the door, and this is just ward 1.
So I have a different perspective. I'm hearing different things, and what I'm hearing is very, very distressful. The nuclear power plant seemed to be the one issue that constantly came up -- constantly. I heard stories that I just couldn't believe, all kinds of stories, and that's one of the reasons I came today, because I wanted to at least relay to you that there is a deep, profound belief that the life expectancy of this plant has seen its time come.
Many of the people whom I've met at the lower end of ward 1 are long-time residents who have been there 35 years, 40 years, 27 years, and they remember the area before the nuclear power plant even came there.
Just a simple story: One woman I met was a 30-year resident and she remembers when there was no nuclear power plant. Within three years, the newspaper articles started to come out that a nuclear power plant was going to be built. She was excited at that prospect and she started collecting all the newspaper clippings; she and her husband did that as a hobby. Her favourite pastime was to take her dogs just down the street, in full view of the power plant, and the dogs used to swim in the lake etc.
She said to me that about 10 years ago she started really to think more and more about the safety aspect of this nuclear power plant. I asked her why. She said, "Over the course of 25 years, I had three different dogs and each dog died within five years of the same problem." So I said, "What's that got to do with the nuclear power plant?" "Well, the dogs all swam in the park just down the street, they all jumped into the water and they all died of cancerous lymphoma of the throat," or some area in here. She said, "It's my belief that there's something wrong with the water." This is just one woman saying this. She has a deep, profound concern from these newspaper reports that they are probably leaking more, from her perspective.
There are all kinds of other stories. Another story I heard was that a woman said that she lived near Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club and she kept reports. She remembers newspaper articles. When the plant was first built, the articles were saying that the plant only had a life expectancy of 25 years. She remembers those things. She told me that just a week ago. She said to me: "That 25-year period of time is now. That plant is probably worn out. Why rebuild it? We've been hosting this plant for 25 years. We don't need to have it rebuilt."
These are just two simple little stories and they were just constantly telling me these stories. These are from long-time residents; these are not necessarily from people who have just moved there. All these people who have just moved there recently, who have come into this area, have said to me consistently that that is the number one issue with them.
My belief is that the public perception out there is that this plant is mismanaged, it's mechanical, there are breakdowns constantly. No matter how much you spend, it's not going to make a difference in the perception out there.
I believe this government, yourselves, should put forward an idea out there of decommissioning this plant once and for all. It will probably take a long period of time, but I think that's what the government should be doing. I think the perception out there is that this plant is not safe, that no more money should be spent on it. I believe in the ability of government to do positive things and I believe shutting down this plant would be perceived by Ontarians as a positive thing.
There are many other alternatives. I think spending any more money on this nuclear power facility would be just redundant. I don't think it's necessary. I think the constituents, at least where I've talked to them in ward 1, feel the same way.
An environmental assessment is essential, and even after the assessment is done, it will probably conclude that this plant has seen its time come. That's all I have to say.
The Chair: There is time, and I emphasize the word "crisp" this time. That will include the answers too, please. Very quickly, one question from each. We'll begin with the government caucus.
Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I happen to be the member who represents the riding of Bruce. As you know, we have eight units there as well. I'd be interested in having your opinion. I think both of the communities, the Pickering-Darlington community -- maybe I agree with Mr O'Toole that they shouldn't be joined as one, because I do understand there's a different atmosphere, if you will, with regard to the site.
Let's take Pickering A and Bruce A. The presentations we're hearing this afternoon are absolute opposites in terms of attitude and atmosphere and acceptance within the community. I just wonder why that might be if the backyard is as educated in each of the communities, which I believe it is. Why do you think that is?
Mr Pacione: I think because of a lot of these reports that have been coming out recently. I think the public, like myself, have always presumed that it was a safe facility, but when you start hearing things and seeing reports on television, that they had 33 fires there last year, that they don't have adequate fire facilities there, that they don't have a sprinkler system -- even the school has a sprinkler system. If this plant hasn't got a sprinkler system or adequate fire protection, why would I feel safe? How could they have built this thing? I think the perception out there with the public is that it just wasn't built properly at that time. They should have taken these things into consideration and management should have been handling this thing much more properly out there. The perception right now I think has totally eroded. I'll tell you right now, this assessment question, once it comes up in a referendum, should be overwhelming: 95%.
Mr Kwinter: Mr Pacione, we really do have a difference of opinion in that, in our hearings to date, if there is one single strand that has gone through them from all of the experts -- and you may question the experts -- it is that safety is not a problem. Whether it's the AECB, whether it's Andognini, whether it's any of the people, foreign experts, they all say the same thing, that the Candu technology is "robust" -- their word -- and that safety is not a problem. I just want to get your response as to whether or not you think there's a communication problem.
I've read the incident reports from the emergency measures office in Durham and I can tell you that one of your other neighbours is General Motors. Although when you talk nuclear, every time there is any kind of an incident, you suddenly say, "Oh, my God, we're fried," but if you saw the results that came out of General Motors, with the accidents and the breakdowns, I would say to you that they are probably -- and I don't know this for sure -- at least equal to what's happening in a major facility like Pickering.
You keep talking about perception. Do you think it really is a problem of communication maybe, a failure to communicate what is happening, and as a result it leads to these people imagining the worst?
Mr Pacione: I don't think it's imagining. Things are happening there. We're not imagining all of these incidents that have occurred in the last six months, the last two years. We're not imagining the fact that they don't have adequate fire protection there. Am I imagining that? I don't think so. That's a fact. I don't think you can dismiss that.
We can communicate now and say, "Yes, we've just put in an 80-man firefighting force in there, 24 hours a day." People are saying to me now: "Why did it take you so long to do that? Didn't we need it for the last 25 years?" People are not that stupid. People are saying that. No matter what we do now, I don't think you're going to get that confidence back, I really don't.
Mr Laughren: You're running in ward 1?
Mr Pacione: Ward 1, yes. That's the western sector of Pickering.
Mr Laughren: I suspected as much. I wanted to know if you find quite a dramatic difference when you knock on the door of a worker at one of the plants.
Mr Pacione: Actually, that's a very good question you ask. I have run into those and the perception there is that they believe the plant is safe. They all say the same thing: "I wouldn't work there if it wasn't safe." On the other hand, you ask the housewives and they have a different idea. They will say honestly: "Yes, I'm worried about my husband's job, but I am distressed about these things that I'm reading in the paper. I am worried." So there is that possibility.
Every worker that I've talked to says it's safe. I haven't met anybody who's said it's not safe. They all say the same thing: "If I didn't believe it was safe, I wouldn't go in." "But do you hear all these other things?"
There was a report one day -- I can't substantiate this; I heard this from someone -- that a bunch of housewives of Hydro workers quickly went to the local high schools and elementary schools and took their kids out, out of the blue. There was this rumour. I don't know if that was true or not, maybe because something happened, I don't know. But these things filter around and they stay there. They linger. Rebuilding that is going to take a long time and I don't think it's going to be done. My feeling is that this nuclear facility will eventually be decommissioned. That's my feeling.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Pacione. I appreciate your presence before the select committee. If we have any further need of your evidence, we'll certainly be in touch with you. I will have a long discussion with members later about the definition of the word "crisp." We may have to redefine that just a bit. No, you weren't bad, Mr Laughren.
The Chair: The next presenter is Suzanne Elston. Welcome to the select committee. You have 10 minutes for questions and answers.
Ms Suzanne Elston: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Suzanne Elston. Like many of the presenters that have spoken today, I bring a variety of perspectives to this process. I am about to enter my second term as a public utilities commissioner for the municipality of Clarington. In this capacity, I serve on the Municipal Electric Association's environmental matters committee. I am a founding member of Durham Nuclear Awareness. My weekly environmental column is now in its ninth year of syndication around the province, and my radio commentary can be heard regularly on 110 national public radio stations in the Great Lakes basin. But that's not why I'm here.
I'm here because I'm a parent who lives within 10 kilometres of the Darlington nuclear generating station. I'm here because I'm concerned about the health of my three kids and the health, both economic and environmental, of this province.
The last two weeks have been very difficult. I've been juggling a very busy schedule with the lives of my three children who, thanks to education cuts, are no longer in school. It troubles me deeply that $1 billion in education cuts have paralysed our school system, while Ontario Hydro is allowed to commit $5 billion to $8 billion of our resources to its nuclear recovery program with little or no public consultation. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
You may argue that the two are not related. I beg to differ. While one deals with ratepayers' funds and the other with taxpayers' revenues, the ultimate control is the same: the government of the province of Ontario. So why is it that this government is willing to paralyse the education system for $1 billion, but is unwilling to confront Ontario Hydro for almost 10 times that amount? I believe it is fear: fear of change, fear of Ontario Hydro, fear of the sheer force required to dismantle the largest utility in North America and fear of the financial consequences for this province. The time for fear is over; it's time for action.
It troubles me that it has taken 10 years of hard work to have the appropriate officials begin to come to the same conclusions that environmental activists made long ago: Nuclear power is unsustainable; our nuclear plants are in serious disrepair; the cost to maintain these plants renders them unviable. It troubles me that two years after it was released, the Macdonald committee report has all but been ignored. This is despite the fact that its recommendations are in essence supported by the MEA, the Municipal Electric Association, the environmental community, the Independent Power Producers' Society of Ontario and the individual utilities themselves.
It troubles me that, despite sweeping changes in the electricity sector in North America, Ontario Hydro's monopoly continues to control the energy future of this province. It troubles me that for too long we've been told to trust Ontario Hydro. It troubles me that over a year ago, Norm Sterling stood before the district 1 annual meeting of the MEA and promised that the release of the white paper was imminent. I now understand that the white paper will be released tomorrow. I find it troubling that, given the implications this document will have for the electricity sector, it was not made available for your deliberations or for the people that came to speak to you.
We need the recommendations of the Macdonald committee implemented now. We need to make Ontario Hydro accountable now. We need strong, sustainable energy plans that will allow this province to lead this country into the millennium now. We need a commitment from this government that both the Pickering A and the Bruce A stations will be shut down permanently. We can no longer throw good money after bad. What we need is action, and we need it now. Thank you for your time.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Suzanne. We have, I dare say, time for one crisp question from each caucus. We'll try again, shall we? We'll begin with Mr Conway.
Mr Conway: Thank you, Ms Elston, for a very spirited and direct presentation. One of the questions that the paper on electricity reform is clearly going to give quite a lot of discussion to is the whole question of stranded assets, stranded debts at Ontario Hydro. You're a municipal politician. The Macdonald commission, quite frankly, speaks of a very substantial dismemberment of Ontario Hydro.
There is $29 billion, $30 billion worth of publicly guaranteed debt at Ontario Hydro. Let us say that we simply took Ontario Hydro apart. What do you think the people of Clarington would want us to recommend about the management of Hydro debt?
Ms Elston: First of all, let me make it clear to you that I'm not speaking on behalf of Clarington Hydro, but I think the answer is very clear. In most of the reports, there is a consensus regarding the dismantling of Ontario Hydro, that transmission and generation be broken up. What I think the most equitable way of avoiding stranded assets would be is if a transmission charge was put on a transco, that a publicly owned monopoly in the transmission sector be maintained and that everyone who accesses that transmission corridor be required to pay a fee, a debt fee, whatever you want to call it. This would also make provisions for independent power producers to help pay down the debt, international power producers coming in from the US, whatever. It is the most equitable and reasonable way. I share your concern about the stranded assets and we cannot allow that debt to go uncared for.
Mr Laughren: I'm going to pick up on that, because I understand what you're saying and that it could have some appeal, but the problem, it seems to me and I'd appreciate your comment, is that you can have very large institutional users of electricity, Falconbridge, Inco in my own community, General Motors, wherever, that would generate their own power and not access the transmission lines whatsoever, and would resist mightily any charge against the debt, the debt charges, being applied to them. I wonder if you've got your mind -- I haven't got mine, so believe me, I'm not critical if you haven't -- around that problem.
Ms Elston: I must admit truthfully that cogen for large manufacturers isn't a consideration I've looked at. Fortunately, it's not up to me to come up with that solution.
Mr Laughren: I understand that.
Ms Elston: I understand, but it's not something I have considered.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Suzanne. I do read your column and try to keep abreast of your point of view. Thank you for your politically driven comments; I accept them as that. Would you be in favour of closing the Darlington nuclear plant?
Ms Elston: Would I be in favour? Immediately? No, but I believe what we have recognized -- and all of the evidence is there -- is that the days of advancing nuclear technology are over. I think that in good time the Darlington nuclear generating station should be phased out. I think the example we've learned from Pickering is that heroic measures do not work, nor should they work, and that the projected life of the plant should be simply that. You know, we talked about 25 years, whatever. I don't think we should be investing any more money. I think the question will answer itself, John, when the Darlington plant comes into the same age where the Pickering plant is now. Hopefully, we will have come to a more mature attitude towards energy and we will have solutions apparent to us, we will get through this crisis, and by the time it comes time to look at the life of the Darlington plant we will say: "No. There is no point. This is what it was built for and now let's more on to more sustainable and brighter energy futures."
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Chairmen: Are you going to allow those politically driven questions?
The Chair: That's out of order, Mr Laughren, and I'm pleased to rule that way. I suspect that Ms Elston can care for herself in a very competent fashion.
Ms Elston: I was going to say, you don't have to worry about me, Mr Laughren.
The Chair: Thank you. I don't need any other incitement here. There's plenty to go around. Thank you, Ms Elston.
Ms Elston: I thank you all for your time.
The Chair: I call upon Karen Paul. Welcome to the select committee. We appreciate you being here. You have 10 minutes for your presentation, including questions and answers.
Mrs Karen Paul: My name is Karen Paul. I'm a resident of Pickering, Ontario. I first want to say I've been following quite closely the transcripts of this committee's proceedings and I'm very proud of the work that has been done, the questions that have been asked by all members to the people who have come before you. I am speaking today as a very new resident of Pickering. I have been chastised for that when I've spoken out, as being new to Pickering, but I am also a resident of Ontario, so I think my opinion is valid.
I moved to Pickering just under two years ago with my very young family, and I must say I was one of those people who was in a complete state of denial that anything could possibly be wrong. When I moved from Kingston some people said, "Pickering?" I said: "Oh, there's no problem. It's Toronto. Oh yes, the nuclear plant, right. It should be fine. Everything's fine. The government is taking care of it." Things haven't quite gone the way I'd hoped.
As a matter of fact, I was one of those parents who went to pick their kids up one day and found that there had been a rumour of people taking their children out of school. I had no idea that such a thing could happen. I was quite surprised at the time. But I went back into my nice little state of denial and I got through the next several months, until we started hearing about the problems that were happening at the plant.
The other day a candidate came to my door with a Pickering Hydro hat on and we had quite a discussion about the state of Ontario Hydro. We were talking about the recovery plan. He said, "You know, we are kind of guinea pigs," and he stopped and he tried to take it back. I said to him that I understood he really meant to say it, because this is an experiment, this nuclear experiment that we're into. We are at the point in time where our plants are coming of age. The aging is inescapable and it's something that I've since learned was not really well planned for.
The reactors in Pickering are breaking down earlier than was expected. I think we have to come clean about this and we have to look at who said 40 and who said 20 and can we settle on 30 years? But it's kind of like an old car. The older it gets, the less efficient it gets, the less dependable and the less safe, ultimately.
This plant is in the most densely populated part of this country so a serious accident is really unimaginable, and we'll all go back into that state of denial again because we don't want to go there. I think someone at this committee said that knowing what they know, they'd never have put up a nuclear plant or a series of reactors this size in an area like Pickering. It was not a good idea. I think over time we will address that as we phase out nuclear.
The way I see it, Ontario Hydro bet the farm on nuclear at the expense of everything else, and it continues to do so. They want to salvage these aging, accident-prone reactors and then they want to rev them up to full speed, want to rev them up to 80% capacity to pay for it. That's a gamble I'm not really interested in taking, personally.
Ontario Hydro has known for a long time that the Pickering plant was in trouble. The AECB came here and said that they were within a hair's width of shutting Pickering down last year. Ontario Hydro has presented the AECB with plan after plan after plan to improve efficiency and safety and it's been stated very clearly that they were great at making promises and really bad at carrying them through.
With something as technical as nuclear power, I don't understand why we have to have such blind faith in it. I know we're in a church but --
Mr Conway: The Chairman of this committee is a noted Anglican divine.
Mrs Paul: I apologize.
The Chair: The church is aware of burning.
Mrs Paul: I think we're trying to push the technology beyond where it obviously can go and needs to go, and at the end of the day we are still stuck with the problem of waste. We still talk in terms of temporary waste disposal -- storage really. Our Pickering site is a waste site for radioactive material. It's stockpiling up on our waterfront and that's an unfortunate problem that has yet to be resolved after many years of attempts.
We can't escape the fact that we'll have to decommission these plants eventually. As has been stated very clearly, these plants have a finite lifespan. Trying to push that is a very foolhardy, dangerous thing to do, primarily I guess because of the location in my backyard, but it is also in the heart of the province and in the heart of the country. As I said before, we simply can't risk a serious accident at this plant. That's just a given.
We need to step back from nuclear, mature and look at it as the world is looking at nuclear. There's no room for error in this recovery plan, in more ways than one, and the truth is just starting to come out about the total cost of all of this. It would be wrong of us to repeat old mistakes. I frankly don't want to be a guinea pig and I don't want to feel like I'm part of this experiment. That's why I think a lot of us have come out from that sleepy bedroom mentality we had and have decided to speak out.
At 25 years the Pickering A reactors are likely at the time when they should be permanently shut down. The phase-out of nuclear is coming from many different angles. We're just one part of that big picture.
I again support a full environmental assessment of the safety, economic and environmental issues and I really applaud Mayor Arthurs for taking a very sensitive issue and handling it extremely well.
Ms Johns, you asked me a question, would the public pay more for energy? I think the full cost of nuclear has not been presented to the public. I think we're going to pay more. The signs are out that this is going to cost us. We can't escape it. I think that presented properly, we all understand our responsibility to this attempt we made at making nuclear solve all of our energy problems.
It's time. I'm ready and I want to see my children -- as a matter of fact, I've told my nine-year-old that he probably won't get his electricity from nuclear power. I'm hoping that I'll be right and I'm hoping that money will be spent to fully develop and implement those safe, sustainable forms of energy and we can put an end to the nuclear experiment.
The Chair: Thank you very much for deputing. That just about uses the time, but I appreciate it. May I also say on behalf of the committee how pleasant it is to have a generous comment, as you began, about the work of the committee. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
CANADIAN NUCLEAR WORKERS' COUNCIL
The Chair: I ask David Shier, president of the Canadian Nuclear Workers' Council, to come forward to the witness table, please. You have 20 minutes for your presentation, including questions and answers.
Mr David Shier: Good afternoon and thank you very much for providing the opportunity for me to address the panel. My name is David Shier. I'm president of the Canadian Nuclear Workers' Council. I've provided copies of my presentation, and I guess the good news is I'm not going to read it verbatim. I'm going to skim through it and I will make some additional ad hoc comments.
The first part of the brief summarizes what our organization is. To simplify it, the council is an umbrella organization of mainly unions that are involved in the nuclear industry in Canada. We perform the function of giving those unions and those workers a vehicle to join the nuclear debate and present the issues of nuclear energy, nuclear medicine, the whole nuclear industry from a worker perspective. We are also connected to the international scene. We were a founding member and we're still a member of the World Council of Nuclear Workers. My comments today will be from that perspective, from the workers in the industry and with some of the comments of the workers' views worldwide.
First of all, the safety aspect is something that workers naturally would like to comment on. Regardless of particular mechanical or equipment breakdowns at the Pickering nuclear plant, the single overriding concern of all parties is, is it safe? Members of the committee and residents of the nuclear community can be assured that all Ontario Hydro reactors are indeed safe from the worker perspective.
I know you've been going on around that and hearing lots about it. All the different groups have assured us that it is safe. I think it should be added to this fact that the workers in these facilities do maintain that they are safe, and also the workers in the industry in general. Here we're talking about the nuclear stations, but not too far away from here we do have other nuclear facilities. We have fuel fabrication plants in Port Hope and also in Peterborough, and lots of these people work outside the location here but do live in this community.
Also on the safety concern, in my capacity as the nuclear workers' council president, I was in France back in September dealing with some meetings with the world nuclear worker council and it was made quite clear to me by other members of the organization that their big question was: "What's going on in Canada? We thought your reactors were safe." This is something we have to get out internationally, to make sure they are still perceived as safe as they were before.
From the workers' comparison again, we look at that simple analogy of comparing nuclear plants to a car: When a car gets a few years old you don't throw it away, you repair it. This fits into the whole concern of the environmentalists as well. You don't trash things, you try to repair them and keep them going.
To reiterate a point that we have made many times before, if there were any substantial threats to the human or natural environment from Ontario Hydro's nuclear reactors, members of this committee or of the nuclear community would not have to wait to read about it in the media. As a spokesperson for the thousands of workers who spend most days of their lives working not only in the offices of nuclear plants and uranium mining and processing but also in reactor vaults and spent fuel bays, I can assure everyone that you'd hear it from the workers first.
I qualify that by saying that the Canadian nuclear industry is a very highly unionized sector and many of the main unions put health and safety very high on their agenda. They've got a record of addressing and making public any safety concerns. The unions involved in this organization are the Steelworkers; the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers; the Power Workers' Union, CUPE workers; several other ones as well. They all have a good record of bringing out any health and safety issues. That would not exclude the nuclear facilities either.
To assume that a nuclear worker would deliberately hide or ignore anything that compromised their personal safety or that of their families in the community for the sake of hanging on to a paycheque is to entertain a radically new view of human nature; and that would not happen, in our view.
Looking at the replacement component of the proposal, we get a clearer picture of the role and value of nuclear power in Ontario when we consider the cost of the replacement fossil fuel energy for only seven reactors during the proposed refurbishment period, which is estimated at around $3 billion. This does not include the environmental costs of the increased production of acid gas. This is a definite concern for workers.
I've just returned from Manitoba where the Canadian Labour Congress was holding a health, safety and environment conference this weekend. A lot of the true environmentalists in the country are asking the question, "What's going on here if we're going to replace safe nuclear plants with more fossil generation?" We all are aware of the present state of the greenhouse gas situation in Canada, where we're already exceeding our limits. If this proposal goes through it will actually increase them again. There is a meeting, which I'm sure you're aware of, coming up in a few weeks in Japan where the countries of the world are getting together to try and make another commitment to the greenhouse gas effect. I'd suggest that this now does have some international implications by this proposal.
The other sections here I will scoot through, as I indicated I was not going to read verbatim. But I would also like to comment on the staffing. The matter of staffing shortage has also been advanced as a reason for shutting down the seven nuclear reactors, the reason being that there simply are not enough skilled tradespeople to carry out the huge maintenance backlog that's required. We would question this logic. We believe it is possible to repair the nuclear units while keeping them in operation. With enough additional staff, the backlog can be cleared during a reactor's scheduled maintenance outages.
It's true that there are not enough skilled people in Ontario Hydro's present staff complement to carry out this work while the reactors are in operation, but there are many unemployed skilled trades across the country, those recently laid off and in planned future layoffs by Hydro and also by AECL, who with minimal additional training could carry out the required maintenance during a reactor's scheduled outage.
I'll give you some examples of that. In Quebec and New Brunswick there are nuclear plants. They are smaller than the plants in Ontario and they don't have the same staff we have. When they have outages there, they go to the community and hire skilled tradespeople to come in and assist with their outages. There are people in the community who can come in and do this work to get these units up on improved performance in a short period of time.
The assertion that we must shut down seven reactors for several years, take on billions of dollars of replacement energy costs and degrade the environment, all because there are not enough skilled people on hand, is, at the very least, highly questionable.
In conclusion, the Nuclear Workers' Council would ask the members of the committee to consider the following:
Regarding the safety of the plants, the responsible authorities both in Canada and internationally have endorsed the reactors in question as being safe, and the people who work in them are telling you they are safe. Reduced effectiveness and diminished performance do not mean unsafe. We trust these views will persuade you on the condition of the reactors. I emphasize that I think we have to do a lot of work in that area to repair the damage that's been done to our Candu system in the minds of people across the world.
As to repairability, our view is that in bringing these reactors back into service, there simply are no reasonable alternatives to produce this amount of base load electricity in Ontario within any reasonable time frame for the costs envisaged.
Also, refurbished nuclear reactors will be a significant bounty for Ontario on two major counts: first from the employment standpoint -- and we trust that the committee will agree that Ontario's unemployment levels are in no need of further expansion -- and second, refurbished reactors will be extremely important to Ontario Hydro as tremendous revenue earners and especially if we see the competitive market that is expected within a few years.
Regarding the recommendation that the reactors must be shut down while being repaired, we strongly argue that there are significantly less expensive alternatives to shutting them down, both from an employment standpoint and in terms of costs to energy consumers. We would strongly urge the committee to consider these alternatives.
I would also like to add that I understand there was a presentation by the British Energy group to one of your hearings. I had the opportunity a few years back to tour one of the generating stations they were talking about, how they improved their efficiency and were improving safety and so on. In my view, the plant I was in looked very clean, looked very well. One of the big things that came across was that the workers had played a very major role in turning that station around. There was a lot of union-management cooperation. The union was involved with input on how to do things better.
If you look at the charts that they provided, you'll see that was through the years 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. I was there in 1995. Actually, we had the manager from that station with a couple of his workers over to Canada two years ago this month and we did tour them around the Pickering and the Darlington stations where we had some dialogue with the management and the union people. There are ways of doing this. I guess my point here is that workers should be involved with their ideas as well on how these plants can be brought up and ways of doing it quickly and safely.
Again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my presentation.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Shier. We appreciate your evidence. We have a minute and a half for each caucus. We will begin the questioning with Mr Laughren.
Mr Laughren: I would like to challenge you on your comment about workers in uranium mines, but I'll leave that for another day.
You make a statement here, "The technology has not declined -- machines do not run by themselves...." How can you say that the technology has not declined when the older the plants get the more breakdowns they have, the more problems they have, the more difficult and expensive they are to resolve, it seems? What do you mean that the technology has not declined? I'm at a loss.
Mr Shier: Our reference there is that it's a safe technology. As these machines get older you have a choice: You can scrap them or you can repair them. These machines are not at the age where they should be scrapped. It's a lot more reasonable in cost to repair them, bring them up to higher standards than they are now. I'm not saying they're not safe now, but they do require some money to bring them up so they're going to be able to produce electricity for the residents of Ontario for several more years. Back to the car analogy: It's a few years old, the technology's still there, the engine technology hasn't changed, but you're going to have to spend a little more money on it to bring it back up to top shape.
Mrs Fisher: You may know I represent the riding of Bruce. As a matter of fact, I think I attended one of your conferences a year ago.
Mr Shier: Yes, I believe you did.
Mrs Fisher: The question I have is this: The mayor of Pickering, on behalf of his people, has very well described their concerns with regard to the operation and the answerability to a community of Ontario Hydro, and if I might add to it, I would expect even to the AECB realm.
You commented that you witnessed the recovery plan in operation in the British system, and yes, we did have the presentation before the committee in the past. Is it your feeling that there's an opportunity for Canada, if there are not nuclear-qualified workers today, to bring some comfort -- not comfort, but some action to the concerns that are being raised by the residents of this area? If management and the workers, through the PWU and the society and the community work together to (1) better understand those problems and (2) do something constructive to address those in terms of repair and communication enhancement, is this recoverable or not at this site?
Mr Shier: I would say yes. Our organization has done a little bit of community public outreach. We did have a display booth in one of the local malls in the Pickering area last year where we were able to solicit some input from people and discuss aspects of the plant. Once people we talked to found that we were not from Ontario Hydro management, that we were actually from a worker organization, in our opinion they tended to listen to us. We didn't get the same read that may be proposed by a lot of people. A lot of the people we spoke to -- and it wasn't a scientific survey -- were not as concerned as maybe we hear. The thing that was lacking was communication. They got most of their information out of the local paper, which in our opinion tends to raise a little bit of scare tactics on some of these issues in their reporting. That's what the people told us. That's where they were getting their information.
Yes, there has to be a lot of work done, because it's definitely quite clear that there's a different concern here in this community than there is at the Bruce, for example, when you talk to people in the public. Workers could have a very major role to play in that area. The company has to change its ways as well. I've toured plants in Europe and they have a lot different public relations as far as getting public comfort in having the plant as part of their community.
Mr Conway: Thank you, Mr Shier, for quite a good brief. I want to focus on one particular area. If the people of Ontario listened carefully to Mr Farlinger and Mr Andognini in mid-August, or if they were with this committee this morning listening to the Atomic Energy Control Board talk about some of the difficulties that have been experienced over the last few years at Pickering nuclear power stations, and with a particular focus on management and worker culture, they would want me to ask on their behalf, what the hell has been going on?
I said this morning to the Hydro leadership at Pickering, it's as though both managers and workers in some of these cases parked their brains on some planet outside of our terrestrial experience. There's just no easy understanding for laypeople looking at some of the problems, some of the sloppiness, some of the inadvertence, some of the laxity. What has been going on at these plants over the last five or six years or however long it is? We were certainly presented with a number of findings this morning from the AECB. How would you explain that pattern, the problems of that management and worker culture that have been highlighted, not only by the federal regulator but by Andognini and others in recent times?
Mr Shier: I'll make this quick. I'm not going to pass the buck. I'll make a comment on it but I suggest you put that same question to the panel which will be coming up later on from the workers.
Mr Conway: I'll do that, but you're my witness now.
Mr Shier: From my perspective, I would say there are a couple of issues here. The public relations aspect is one thing that has been very weak in this area, in my opinion. As far as the practical problems or the practical things we hear reported, a lot of them do get blown out of proportion so that it looks like there are major concerns and big things happening, for example, the siren issue and stuff like that, which are not major issues but they appear to be that way.
Mr Conway: That's not what we heard this morning, though. Again, just very quickly, we heard from the federal regulator telling us that some of the most routine, basic procedures that one would expect both workers and managers would do at a nuclear power station were not being done. When it was pointed out that this was a problem and should be fixed, it didn't get fixed. What is going on inside the heads of workers and managers that these kinds of things happen and continue to happen after they have been complained about?
Mr Shier: I hear you, but I'm going to pass that on to the people who work specifically in the station, who will give you a firsthand answer to that particular question.
The Chair: Mr Shier, just before you go, I have a question. Ontario Hydro has been at great pains to discuss the labour mix, the shortfalls in certain skilled areas and so forth. Is your council giving consideration to the reality and the significance of that information contained in those various reports?
Mr Shier: There is a shortage right now, as we've acknowledged, but we don't say that there's a shortage in the community, with the unemployment rates or as skilled trades. Other organizations do handle that.
The Chair: Your council has done no direct study or response to that?
Mr Shier: We've done no direct studies or anything. We have no statistics on that.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We appreciate your evidence. You are excused. I appreciate your time.
The Chair: Councillor Maurice Brenner, would you come forward, please. You will have 10 minutes for a presentation. Welcome to the select committee.
Mr Maurice Brenner: Thank you, Mr Chairman and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to address you this afternoon.
This presentation is, in a sense, to pick up from the presentation of the fire marshal and the town of Pickering fire chief which was held on October 27, I believe.
Ontario Hydro nuclear presently lacks a balanced approach to fire safety at its plants. A balanced approach consists of three components: passive fire protection -- compartmentalization by means of fire barriers; detection and suppression, which is active fire protection; and proximity to fire service, ie, building being close to fire response/firehall.
This approach is used in all of Canada's buildings except Candu reactors here in Ontario. It is also used in all buildings, in both nuclear and non-nuclear, including marine and offshore construction, in countries such as the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Korea and China. The fact is that all new AECL-Candu designs all utilize compartmentalization, sprinklers and fire service. We should expect nothing less here in Ontario.
During recent weeks, through these hearings, the lack of accountability has become very evident and how far-reaching it is in the area of fire services. Clearly it has now been demonstrated that no one appears to have sole authority over this important issue. Who is minding the shop when it comes to fire safety?
The Atomic Energy Control Board has admitted it lacks the expertise. The Ontario fire marshal's office has stated it cannot intervene unless invited in. Municipal fire service, which operate under the authority of the fire marshal's office, cannot intervene unless invited in. These facilities are not required to comply with the Ontario building code, 1990, in particular section 3.1.9. Municipal building inspectors do not have the legal authority to require these facilities to comply with Ontario building code requirements.
While it has been argued that Ontario Hydro nuclear is regulated by the Atomic Energy Control Board, a federal authority, exempting it from lower-tier regulations, Ontario Hydro nuclear is in fact owned and operated by a provincial crown corporation and, as such, should be subject to the same strict regulations pertaining to fire and structure as anyone else in this province. The fact that you as a provincial body are having these hearings would also concur that this is a provincial matter.
With this in mind, I wish to introduce the following recommendations which I call Fire Safety: A Blueprint for Change.
Ontario Hydro Nuclear must be governed by the Ontario building code, 1990, during its recovery process. Each plant should be required to apply for municipal building permits in compliance with the 1990 Ontario building code, OBC.
Assessments of each plant must be made by municipal building departments in the municipalities where each OHN plant is located. Alternatively, the Ontario buildings branch should act as a resource to municipalities across Ontario in this regard.
The following overriding stipulations be made in the 1990 Ontario building code, only as it relates to fire protection upgrade by the Ontario nuclear generating stations:
All service rooms, including but not limited to the following, be separate fire envelopes, separated by three-hour fire barriers as per CAN/ULC-S101-M89: control rooms, cable spreading rooms, battery rooms, MCC rooms, oil storage rooms.
All firestops, with each configuration, shall have a three-hour FTH rating as per CAN4-S115, latest edition. All firestop installations must conform to the minimum and maximum tolerance stipulations of these listings. Where three hours of temperature ratings cannot be achieved, the penetrant on the side of the floor assemblies and on both sides of wall assemblies should be treated as follows:
Cables should be coated to a minimum length of 500 mm with a minimum thickness of 1 mm of approved intumescent cable coating to prevent ignition of adjacent combustibles as well as unexposed side cable jacketing retard corrosive offgasing of cable jacketing on the unexposed side due to temperature transmission through the firestop.
Piping shall be covered with a minimum 25 mm thick inorganic pipe covering for a minimum distance of 500 mm in order to prevent ignition of combustibles on the unexposed side.
Firestops and electrical circuit protective fire barrier components must either meet the acceptable standards of CAN4-S114 or be totally concealed by a minimum of 5 mm barriers which meet the acceptance criteria of CANS-S114.
Emergency power, including redundant safe shutdown systems and/or critical control, instrumentation and/or power cabling between the reactor and the control room, and critical protective circuits and communication or security systems must either be qualified under full electrical load and testing to CAN/ULC-S101 or be totally enclosed in barriers qualified to UL1724.
All fire protection systems and components must be listed with one or both of the following: Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada or Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
Deviations from regulations, for each configuration, must be applied for in writing, complete with drawings and descriptive text and alternative proposed solutions with a nuclear fire protection task force.
Upon issuance of an occupancy permit in compliance with the 1990 Ontario building code and the overriding regulations as stated within, Ontario Hydro nuclear plants must be operated in compliance with the Ontario fire code, under the enforcement of those bodies that are legislated through the municipal fire departments.
In closing, I am also recommending that a nuclear fire protection task force be established as a resource to the protection upgrade program, the municipalities and licensees involved, as well as to review any requests for exemptions. This group should be considered to be a nuclear protection task force and should be required and responsible to either this select committee or a body that this select recommends.
Given that time is of the essence, I am prepared to provide to this committee a list of five names well respected and knowledgeable in the area of nuclear fire safety.
In conclusion, these comments and recommendations are aimed to ensure that the taxpayers' money in Ontario that is spent on the Ontario Hydro nuclear facilities is spent on proven methods under the control of the province of Ontario and its municipalities. Fire protection in our Candu reactors can in this way be brought up to world-wide international standards that everyone can be proud of.
The Chair: Thank you. There is time for one minute for each caucus. Mr Galt.
Mr Galt: I really enjoyed your presentation. You've given a tremendous amount of information. We had before this committee a representative from the fire marshal's office. We also had the local fire chief from the town of Pickering. Neither of them had any suggestions. I was really almost embarrassed on their behalf for lack of information. You've given us a lot. You're here as a regional councillor?
Mr Brenner: Yes, sir.
Mr Galt: What is your background? Where do you get this information from? I need to know to provide some accountability and credibility.
Mr Brenner: I appreciate that question, Mr Galt. Actually, I submitted through affidavit a copy of material which I have researched. I have submitted it to the committee for your perusal, sir. I also have a copy that I can leave here today, which is the Digest 07840 Firestopping, Canadian Standards, which has also --
Mr Galt: That was my next question. My question is your background: Are you a fire chief or have you been in the fire marshal's office?
Mr Brenner: No, sir. I am a concerned elected official who has taken the time to do research over the last several months to ensure that I had the appropriate information to present to this hearing.
Mr Galt: I was asking about walls and about wires --
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Galt. Mr Kwinter.
Mr Kwinter: Thank you very much for your presentation. I also want to congratulate you on the amount of work you've done. The question I have for you: To your knowledge, these standards that you have outlined in your presentation, have they not been met inside that facility notwithstanding that it isn't subject to Ontario building code regulations?
Mr Brenner: In fairness to Ontario Hydro, there's been an attempt, but unfortunately, I understand the Atomic Energy Control Board and some of its governing agencies presently are investigating some of the materials which may have misrepresented at the time that firestops were filled within the plant. I have information I can make available, but it's not yet been verified.
In effect, a lot of the areas that I've covered have not to date been addressed to the full extent that they should be addressed. It's not because there's not been a desire on the part of Ontario Hydro, but in fact the criteria are not in place so there is no set standard for them to have followed, whether it's in the trays that are used under the cable runs, which are only single-sided so they don't do any good, or where in fact materials have been applied to the fire barriers walls to a greater capacity than normally could withstand any fires, or for example, where some of the piping is plastic which is going through which would never withstand any temperatures.
The information I have would suggest that unfortunately, because the regulations have not been tight enough and the standards are not tight enough, no, they do not yet comply with some of the recommendations that I'm making today.
Mr Laughren: I have a brief question and it has to do with your fire protection task force. Do you see that as a permanent ongoing force that will monitor fire protection at the nuclear stations, or do you see it as a sort of a hit squad that tries to get things back in shape and then disbands?
Mr Brenner: I would see it initially as -- I don't know if I could call it a hit squad -- a recovery process task force. If the recommendations that I put forward are carried by the government of Ontario, such a task force will no longer be required because the Ontario fire marshal's office would have the appropriate authority that would allow them to do their job in these facilities as they do throughout Ontario. I suggest it would be a short-term recommendation until such time that these plants go through the recovery process that's been recommended through previous recommendations.
The Chair: Councillor, thank you very much. We appreciate your evidence.
Mr Brenner: Thank you very much. I would like to congratulate this committee on an excellent job that you have done in listening to the people of Ontario, sir.
The Chair: That's very polite of you to raise that. We appreciate that commendation.
The Chair: I ask John Wells to come forward, please, to the witness table. Welcome to the select committee. You have 10 minutes for your deputation, including questions and answers.
Mr John Wells: My name is John Wells. I'm an engineer. My background is in operations research. I've worked at British Gas and I've also worked at Ontario Hydro, building models for production transmission.
I'm going to try and deal with the side of costing of trying to get the power back into Ontario. I'll only deal with the generation reserve. From my work in the past, the minimum generation reserve that you required for Ontario was 23%. I would say that with the latest moves you're way below that. From my findings, at 20% generation reserve, you were getting some rotating blackouts and you were getting a lot of brownouts. At 15% generation reserve, you were getting a hell of a lot of rotating blackouts and a lot of brownouts as well. I'm afraid that with the cutbacks that are going to be instituted through this winter, you may be in a state where you'll be getting a lot of rotating blackouts.
In Ontario we have two ties: We have a tie to Michigan at 2,000 megawatts and a tie to New York of 2,000 megawatts. Unfortunately, with the amount of generation you've cut, you're going to be a bit short of capacity to bring that stuff in from the outside, but if we have a bad winter then I'm afraid that our neighbours to the south will be in the same trouble we are, and they won't have sufficient capacity to supply us. Therefore, we will have to look further abroad to bring that capacity in. My experience back in 1976, when Ontario Hydro went to look for spare capacity, was that it went down to Florida and wheeled in some 200 megawatts. We were very fortunate that the utilities between Florida and Ontario were not in any trouble.
I'm afraid that if we are in trouble and if the other utilities are in trouble, then whatever we purchase from outside and try to wheel in, will be eaten up by those utilities and I don't think we're going to see it here. So we may be on our own. I am a little worried about that. All I can say is that you'd better pray that El Niño is going to give us a very nice, warm winter, and probably even for next year.
I would say that to help to cure this, we should probably bring in the independent power producers to try to help out during this phase but if the all the nuclear plant is brought back on stream, I'm afraid that they are going to get their clocks cleaned and I would hate to see a group of people making that sort of investment and getting wiped out because I don't think they would be able to compete. Whatever the independent power producers can produce now will be all right to meet, say, the normal daily load, but when it comes to the peak load, they'll probably have other clients for that peak load, probably themselves. This will probably occur at most of the power producers. Therefore, it's no use them competing on a normal load basis against Ontario Hydro because they are just going to get wiped out, and Ontario Hydro would have sufficient capacity to be able to deal with that. That's assuming that they bring the nukes back on.
If the plan is not to bring all the nukes back, then you're going to have to replace that with some other generation within Ontario. I think a lot of people are looking towards gas as a means of getting that generation replacement here. I think you had better look very carefully at the pipeline and the problems it has been having because I think you'll find you're going to be close to the capacity of the pipeline. The other thing you have to take care of is that you have a storage of natural gas which occurs in the southwest of Ontario, and that's where they have salt domes and they store the gas there. I think the capacity of those salt domes and on the pipeline are going to be very sorely tested if we are going to start to draw off something like 10,000 megawatts of power; to try to generate that. I think we should be very careful about doing that. Otherwise you may have to build a very large ditch between here and Alberta to get the gas again.
The other thing is that if you are going to hive off the generation side of Ontario Hydro as a separate entity and with the piling on of these costs related to the safety issues, then the generations company may want to split the two because Wall Street does not appreciate, or downgrades, any utility that has a nuclear component. Therefore, they may well want to split it off and have a nuclear generation company and then the rest, because then the rest may want to get into the gas distribution side and not be penalized by the nuclear. I'd be very worried about that, because if the nuclear company that we may want to generate has to go on to the market for cash, it may be very difficult for them to get it and it may impinge down the road on safety.
The net effect of all of this is that if you go to gas as a means of generation, you are going to increase the price of gas because of the shortage and you are also going to increase the price of electricity. If you're going to be buying electricity from offshore, then because everyone knows you're up against a wall, 10 cents a kilowatt-hour is going to be very, very cheap. I think they are going to put you against the wall and they are going to shoot at you; and that's including places like Michigan, New York and even Quebec. They'll just take you to the cleaners because you've got no defence. I think you'll count yourself lucky if you're going to get 10 cents a kilowatt-hour.
I'd like to address the future, if I have enough time. If we are going to deal with this, we have to look in terms of the long-term future. There are some more devices coming on to the market, like block storage heaters, which will fill in the dip in the night curve. When that occurs and we've got a flat daily low curve, then we're going to be in more trouble because you are going to need more base load plant, and the only option for base load plant is water or nuclear, as it stands right now. Therefore, you are going to have to ask yourself what you are going to do for an encore because there is no more water around, therefore your only choice is nuclear. S the thing is: What is going to be the next nuclear device you are going to be putting on? This may be 10 or 20 years down the road. You may have to think about the ITER project for that. I'll leave that be my remarks at this stage.
Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): We might have to think about what? I'm sorry.
Mr Laughren: What did you say? I didn't hear you.
The Chair: Sorry. The members didn't pick up the last couple of comments. Would you just repeat that again?
Mr Wells: About the ITER project?
Mrs Johns: ITER?
Mr Wells: Yes. This is a fusion project which has begun to be situated here, possibly in Darlington, and that will give us a background of information about how to deal with fusion generation. We may need that technology down the road.
The Chair: Mr Wells, thank you very much. You've taken your time and I appreciate your evidence given before the select committee. We have your exhaustive document; that'll be tabled with us for consideration.
The Chair: Dawn Roper, would you please come forward to the witness table? Welcome to the select committee. You have up to 10 minutes for your presentation, including questions and answers.
Mrs Dawn Roper: I probably won't take 10 minutes. I am the parent of a child with a developmental disability and I live in Ajax. We have lived here all my daughter's life. I wanted to come and talk to you because I think what you are doing is critical and I think it is particularly critical for vulnerable people who can't speak for themselves.
Only once, to my knowledge, was there ever a study done to look at the potential connection between disability and the presence of nuclear power in our community, and it ended up being inconclusive. As a member of the board of directors of the Ajax, Pickering ans Whitby Association for Community Living and the Ontario Association for Community Living over the past 15 years, I know of no other effort to look into the issue. Indeed, from the point of view of a citizen, why would you? All of the information that we have ever had is that there were no accidents, there were no emissions, there were no seepages, leakages or whatever you want, and everything was contained.
My concern, and I don't understand a lot of it, is that in the past several months, there seem to have been indications that perhaps that's not true. Here we have this one report, several years ago, which indicated that there was a higher instance than to be expected in our population of serious developmental disability in our community, particularly Down Syndrome, particularly in Pickering and then secondarily in Ajax.
If we do have something to worry about, then we've got to worry about it and we've got to deal with it. I was thinking about this and talking about it with my husband. Several years ago, when the study came out, we kind of laughed when they said they were not going to look into it any more, because it didn't really matter. You deal with it. You get on with your life. You do what you have to do. There were a lot more secure social programs in place. We all know that in the era of deficit fighting, our social programs have been eroded somewhat, we are tightening our belt, and so if there's a problem, we really need to know about it, because there is an accountability issue: Who pays to support people who may have been given a specific disability?
Again, I'm not making any allegations. I tried to understand some of the material and it's very difficult for laypeople. I think that's why we've got you. I really wish you luck as you do your job, but I just wanted to remind you that there are people who can't come and sit before you, but whose presence must be here. I just wanted to remind you of that and ask you to think of them as you're looking into this.
The Chair: Thank you for your comments. We have time for one question from each caucus. I'll begin with Mr Kwinter.
Mr Kwinter: Mrs Roper, I was interested in your comment about the higher, I assume per capita, incidence of Down syndrome in Pickering. Has that been substantiated by studies?
Mrs Roper: As I say, there was only one that I know of and I believe it was done -- maybe some other people here will know -- by the Atomic Energy Control Board, and I believe it was based on births. There were some people at the time who said, "Well, it's a high-growth area so a lot of people with those disabilities moved into the area." But I believe that was accounted for and that is was based on births. Certainly the region medical people would be able to tell you more about it.
But as I said in my presentation, as a member of the board of directors of the Association for Community Living, both local and provincial, I have never been approached and asked, "Where were you during your pregnancy and birth and those early stages?" That's going back 15 years -- never.
Mr Laughren: Just to follow up on that, because your presentation is a disturbing one, even in the questions it raises, I applaud you for coming before the committee. I'm not sure whether Mr Kwinter was asking this question or not. Is the incidence of developmental handicaps statistically higher in this area than it is for the provincial norm, for example?
Mrs Roper: Yes.
Mr Laughren: We know that?
Mrs Roper: We know that.
Mr Galt: Good afternoon. It's interesting, the problem you've brought forward. I think I've heard of this before. It isn't totally brand new.
Mrs Roper: No, it's not.
Mr Galt: It certainly jogged my memory as you brought it. There certainly can be other causes, or could be many other causes. Has the study gone into looking further afield than relating it to the nuclear facility that happens to be here?
Mrs Roper: No. I don't believe it did. Again, it kind of made me laugh, but recently, when they had the emissions of the zinc and some other chemical, I thought, "Gee, I wonder." Because they said there was another area in the province that had the same disturbingly high incidence of disability but there was no nuclear plant there. I remember thinking when there was this recent thing, "I wonder if there was a mine or if there was some other connection." But as far as I know, they only looked at it once and only briefly, and then it's never been raised again. I really think that fails a large group of people who may be impacted in a very significant way. We just don't know.
Mr Galt: There is certainly a lot of radioactive material in other locations, particularly where they make the fuel and in the past.
Mrs Roper: Yes, who knows?
Mr Galt: Do you know how much higher above the provincial average? Is it 2%, 50%, 500%?
Mrs Roper: I'm sorry, I only had two days. I didn't have time to go to the medical health people and get the study. But I am sure it's still available with the region.
The Chair: Mrs Roper, thank you very much for appearing before the select committee. We appreciate that.
Mrs Roper: Good luck.
Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: If there is a baseline study that's been completed, I would ask that staff perhaps avail themselves of the public health study that has been referred to. I think it would be a good document to have reference to.
The Chair: While that is not a point of order, it is certainly worthwhile raising. Certainly I recognize a hand going up just asking a question and I am delighted to respond. I think it's a good question to ask.
Mr O'Toole: Thank you.
The Chair: You're more than welcome, Mr O'Toole.
The Chair: I ask Councillor Sherry Senis to approach the witness table please. Welcome. You have 10 minutes to make a presentation to the select committee, including questions and answers.
Ms Sherry Senis: My name is Sherry Senis and I am a councillor with the town of Pickering. I want to thank the select committee for allowing me to speak as a delegation today.
As I mentioned, I am a councillor for the ward in which the Pickering nuclear generating station is situated. I am also running for mayor in the upcoming municipal election and, because of this, have spoken with countless people around the town on the subject of the plant. I will come back to this point in a few moments.
The town of Pickering, as the host community for the Pickering nuclear generating station, has been treated shoddily in the past by Ontario Hydro in that we were kept in the dark as to the operations and the safety risk, perceived or otherwise. There is no point arguing about the past and finger-pointing as to blame, but instead we must at this juncture move on and start with a clean slate while ensuring past injustices are not repeated at the expense of our residents.
How do we do this? As earlier mentioned, I have personally spoken with a good cross-section of Pickering residents while campaigning and have found Ontario Hydro and the nuclear plant are not the most significant issue in this election. In fact, the majority of residents don't feel compelled to close or mothball the plant if it is proven to be a safe operation. Instead, they're more interested in receiving immediate assurance that our local water, air quality and soil surrounding the area are safe for their families, and I don't believe this request is unreasonable.
Residents of Pickering, myself included, don't feel confident with the fact that Ontario Hydro, which tests our drinking water for tritium, is the one which is testing it. Because of the crisis of confidence with Ontario Hydro, we need immediate, independent testing done of our water, air and soil on a continuing basis. Ontario Hydro has agreed, through Mr Carl Andognini, to pay the costs of such testing.
Once the results are back and all is proven safe, the majority of Pickering residents would be content to let Hydro fix their management problems and let them get on with continued, ongoing maintenance of the plant, while ensuring the safe operation of the system as long as open communication continues to assure there are no further surprises.
On the subject of a public review under the Environmental Assessment Act, a question is posed, as you probably have already heard, as a referendum question on our municipal election ballot as to whether it is necessary, as far as Pickering residents are concerned. Although these select committee hearings serve a purpose, the provincial government must also be protecting the taxpayers of Pickering, and indeed Ontario, by exploring alternatives if and when the Pickering nuclear generating station does close in the future. Emergency preparedness has not had the focus it deserves. Decommissioning plans are a subject which must be broached and which will greatly affect our municipality. The town of Pickering must be included in the discussions.
I've already made a presentation to Mr Galt of the MOE regarding copper and zinc as they affect Frenchman's Bay. I understand studies are ongoing on this issue. Communications with the Pickering nuclear generating station, although improved, have a long way to go to reach acceptable levels. The Pickering mayor's office should be constantly kept apprised of any events that would affect our residents and care should be taken to provide details in terms easily referenced in layman's language.
For example, if a heavy water spill were to occur, what would be the accumulated effect on the public at large? Would there be an effect on a half-mile radius, a one-mile radius, a two-mile radius? Using examples people can relate to, such as taking an airline flight etc, a hotline should be set up at the town between Gene Preston, who is the present station manager, through the mayor or acting mayor. All public contact should be through the mayor's office.
The points listed above should be dealt with on a timely basis. Pickering residents deserve immediate answers and positive action as soon as possible. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Councillor, thank you very much for your presentation. A question before we go into the caucus: Do I assume from your deputation that neither the medical officer of health nor the public works department does regular testing of water, air and soils in your municipality?
Ms Senis: The department of public health, through the regional government, does the testing, but what happens is, they draw the water and then it is given to Hydro to test for the tritium levels.
The Chair: They don't do their own testing?
Ms Senis: No.
The Chair: They don't send that to another, independent lab?
Ms Senis: No. From what I understand, there are only two labs in Ontario that are capable of testing for tritium. One is with the Ministry of Labour and the other is with Ontario Hydro.
The Chair: I ask you that because Metropolitan Toronto has done its testing for many years and has sent all of its samples out to independent labs for testing. So I found that a curious and very interesting piece of information.
Ms Senis: Yes.
The Chair: Let me begin with Mr Laughren, one question.
Mr Laughren: Councillor, welcome to the committee. I'm somewhat taken aback by your call that the communication with the plant be through the mayor's office. I would have thought that was done already. If there is a problem -- and maybe this is what the residents were trying to tell us earlier on -- at the plant, how does the population at large in Pickering -- or in the surrounding area; it doesn't have to just be Pickering -- know about it? How do they find out about it besides reading it in the paper a day later, two days later or a year later? How does that happen?
Ms Senis: At this point in time, when we had a very heavy spill of water back in December 1994, there was a Hydro liaison committee set up. The purpose for that was to liaise with information between the town and Ontario Hydro. What ended up happening was through our town council we passed a bylaw that Ontario Hydro would be expected to advise us of any incidents, no matter the significance to the town. Prior to that, we had received next to nothing.
Now what is ending up happening is if a toilet overflows we are advised, because it's an incident, and the significance really doesn't matter. I think maybe that's one of the problems that has ensued, that we hear about a spill of heavy water, a litre, and it ends up being published in the paper. People can't equate, as I mentioned in my speech, as to how that affects them. Is it detrimental? All they know is that there is a problem and, "Is this problem significant enough that we should worry for our safety?"
Mr O'Toole: Thank you very much, Ms Senis, for coming before the committee. Do you have any association with Ontario Hydro yourself -- family, friends?
Ms Senis: No, I do not.
Mr O'Toole: So you just go on what the community information is.
Ms Senis: Yes.
Mr O'Toole: Mayor Arthurs's comments early this afternoon were quite scathing. In fact, I'm looking at the report. He says "a complete collapse of public confidence." Is that the generally accepted theme or tone in Pickering with respect to its dealings with Ontario Hydro today?
Ms Senis: I believe that most people don't believe what they're told from Ontario Hydro.
Mr O'Toole: Is it the recent incidents or is there one specific incident? Was it the CBC program on the 30-some -- was there a specific incident or a series of incidents?
Ms Senis: No, I think it's due to the fact that in the past we had nothing and now we're receiving information overload. As I said, there's no way to equate whether this is significant or not. We're given a statement by Ontario Hydro that everything is fine, and then find out later that it is not.
Mr O'Toole: Are you for or against nuclear?
Ms Senis: That's a pretty loaded question.
Mr O'Toole: No, I mean your own persuasion, looking to the future and the stability of supply.
Ms Senis: To be honest with you, I don't know enough about the subject to give you an answer.
Mr Kwinter: Ms Senis, can you tell me in your opinion what the effects are going to be if they decommission the plants? You say that the community will be greatly affected if they decommission the reactors. Is that greatly affected because of safety, greatly affected because of the economics? What did you mean by this great effect it's going to have?
Ms Senis: At this point in time we don't know what decommissioning entails, so that's a difficult question to answer because not enough knowledge is out there available to the public to know what decommissioning is. If we're talking at this point in time of the possibility of closing Pickering A, what does that mean? What is going to happen to the spent reactors? How are you going to deal with the reactors that are there? Are they going to be taken out of the facility? Are they going to be left there? Who will look after the plant? Will it be still maintained or guarded? There is so much that we don't know and I'm certainly classed as most of the other residents of Pickering who don't have nuclear knowledge.
The Chair: Councillor, thank you so much for appearing before the select committee. We appreciate your evidence and it'll be given considerable consideration.
The Chair: I call upon Kevin Ashe as the next witness. You have up to 10 minutes for your presentation, including questions and answers.
Mr Kevin Ashe: Thank you, Mr Chair. My name is Kevin Ashe. I live at 417 Victor Court in Pickering. I'm as well a separate school trustee for the entire town of Pickering.
I'd like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to dialogue with the select committee today. I believe my comments today will be quite different from many you've heard earlier, but I think they're very reflective of the community I belong to.
First, let me tell you a bit about myself. I come today not representing any group or organization but only my impressions of the community where I live. I'm currently a school trustee; I have been since 1985, as well as past chair of the board, and currently chair of the local education improvement committee.
I am also currently in the midst of an election campaign; I'm a candidate for regional council, ward 1. In addition, my father was the mayor of the community, MPP for 10 years, and a former Minister of Energy. He served with Mr Laughren, Mr Conway and, I believe, Mr Kwinter. I'm a lifelong resident of Durham and during my childhood from age four to 18 lived within a kilometre of the Pickering station.
My message today is quite simple. I believe Ontario Hydro has been and hopefully will continue to be an important part of our community. I am the first to admit that there are problems at the plant. I would suggest, however, that the main issue with the people of Pickering and the citizens of Pickering is their exclusion from meaningful discussion of the plant and its operation. There's a perception, and I believe it's quite right, that the citizens of Pickering have not been fully informed of the difficulties occurring at the plant for many years. I suggest that must change.
I began my comments by indicating that they, meaning Ontario Hydro, are a valuable resource that's worth saving. I want to spend my last few minutes talking about that.
First of all, from an employment point of view, they employ over 2,800 individuals at the Pickering station, of whom 66% live in the geographic area called the region of Durham, and over 500 of them live in Pickering. Certainly a sizeable portion of the payroll is reinvested in our community through property taxes, through sales taxes, through consumer spending and the like.
Currently Ontario Hydro pays in excess of $5 million annually to the town in grants in lieu of taxes, which is a significant part of the operating budget of the town. Without that income, property taxes would certainly increase on that portion from the town aspect.
Ontario Hydro also spends. It is my understanding over $2.5 million worth of supplies were purchased from Pickering businesses. As well, being a Rotarian involved in the United Way and as a hospital fund-raiser, I know that they're a significant corporate citizen and that in the 1996 campaign they gave over $200,000 to the United Way in Pickering, been involved in the hospital. I expect that Ontario Hydro will offer significant resources to the waterfront regeneration which will be ongoing in our community.
To summarize, Ontario Hydro and the Pickering plant are a resource worth saving. I urge you to take this into account when you make your recommendations. However, the underlying theme is that safety must come first.
I'd be pleased to answer any questions the committee might have and again I thank you for the opportunity to come before you today.
The Chair: Mr Ashe, I appreciate that presentation very much and we will begin the questioning with the government caucus.
Mrs Johns: Welcome to the committee, Mr Ashe. It's nice to meet someone who has a long and varied time in community service. You are the first person who has really talked about the financial impact of Ontario Hydro, so I appreciate you bringing that in. We certainly heard a lot about that at Bruce.
I guess in every situation that kind of money has a different impact. In my community, that would be very substantial. Can you tell us how much of the, for example, payment in lieu would be in comparison to the total revenue generated through taxes in your town?
Mr Ashe: I don't have the numbers offhand, but I think the operating budget of the town is in the $30-million to $35-million range. The town manager is sitting behind me.
Mrs Johns: Yes, and he's smiling. We've already had a crack at him.
Mr Ashe: He can nod if I'm accurate or not, but $5 million is a significant contribution to the operation of the town, and that's for the Hydro transmission lines as well as the actual plant itself. It is significant. I don't think there are any studies that would talk about the spinoff effect, but $225 million is spent a couple of times and 66% of the people live in Durham, over 500 of them in Ajax and Pickering. I suggest it is a significant employer in town and one of the biggest employers in town and one that would be sorely missed if it was taken away from us.
Mr Kwinter: Mr Ashe, I'm anxious to get your impression of some of the things that were said to us earlier today, that there is a perception out there that suddenly Pickering is falling apart, that there are all kinds of problems. It has been here since 1971. I know that there are people who are against nuclear and have been from day one, but by and large, has your information been that generally, until these latest events were publicized, people were accepting of the nuclear facility in Pickering?
Mr Ashe: I suggest that the people of Pickering are still accepting of it being a continued part of our community. They are troubled by most recent events, some of them that go back many years, that we weren't aware of. I think it's a credibility issue right now and I think that Ontario Hydro has a significant challenge ahead of them to restore that credibility. I've been knocking on a lot of doors over the last couple of weeks and the issue of trust is mentioned, that word is used. I think it can be restored. They are a valuable part of the community and a good corporate citizen and there is some work to be done, but it can be restored. The communication must be open and they have to work hard at that.
Mr Laughren: Good afternoon. I have a very simple and direct question, and that is, do you support the call for the environmental assessment of the Pickering operation?
Mr Ashe: I don't think that question itself is appropriate because I don't think environmental assessment for an existing facility is the proper way to go. I do, however, believe that there should be an enquiry of some sort to deal with the issue. I really don't think the Environmental Assessment Act and the provisions of it were meant to deal with a development that has a history of 25 years or so. I do, however, think there is a need for a public enquiry or a public review of some type.
The Chair: Mr Ashe, thank you very much for your evidence and for appearing before the select committee. We appreciate your time and interest.
CLARINGTON HYDRO ELECTRIC COMMISSION
The Chair: Now, may we turn our attention to inviting Clarington Hydro. There are three deputants that are clustered with the Clarington Hydro presentation. Welcome to the select committee. You have 20 minutes to make your presentation, including questions and answers.
Mr George Van Dyk: My name is George Van Dyk. I am the chair of Clarington Hydro. Joining me are our vice-chair, Pauline Storks, and our general manager, Dave Clark. I'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to address you today. Pauline is also the current vice-chair of the Municipal Electric Association and the chair of district one of the Municipal Electric Association.
First a little about Clarington Hydro: Clarington is the fifth-fastest-growing community in Canada and as you know, is the community where the Darlington nuclear generating station is located. Clarington Hydro is the municipal electric utility in Clarington. We serve 9,600 customers. However, we don't serve all the customers in Clarington; about 13,000 customers are served by Ontario Hydro Retail.
Our operating costs per customer are quite low. They're lower than 87% of all other municipal electric utilities in Ontario. Our sales of kilowatt-hours have increased by a total of 6% in the last three years. The utility is virtually debt-free with only 8% debt. It will be debt-free in 5 years.
About $1 million a year is spent replacing aging distribution plant. That's about 6% of the book value of our distribution assets. Even with this capital replacement program and high growth, the commission has been able to reduce rates in each of the last three years. Over that period, our residential rates have decreased by 7.5%.
The commission has not been complacent with its good standing. Given the restructuring that will likely occur shortly in this industry, we don't feel the status quo is in the cards for Clarington Hydro. Proactive steps have been taken to look at two different utility restructuring options. In 1995, we conducted a study to look at the feasibility of expanding Clarington Hydro to serve the entire municipality. In 1997 a study was completed to test the feasibility of restructuring all municipal utilities and Ontario Hydro within Durham region.
The conclusion of each study was that expansion and amalgamation would benefit the customers of Clarington and Durham. Unfortunately, there were two municipal utilities that did not support the Durham study, which has deferred any action on amalgamation. We won't mention the utilities that were opposed; the lights might go out here.
We believe there are issues that the select committee needs to address in its recommendations. The first issue: Immediate release of the white paper on industry reform is imperative. The delay on the release of the white paper is causing serious disruption in the industry. We all like to think we know what the white paper is going to suggest, but I think there are different opinions as to what impact it will have on everyone. We think there could be a lot of counter-productive activity eliminated if we get closer to determining what this industry is going to look like in both the short term and the long term. One really has to wonder whether Ontario Hydro would establish a different strategy in their nuclear recovery plan if industry reform was better defined.
The second issue: Rehabilitation and maintenance of non-nuclear assets of Ontario Hydro. Clarington Hydro has significant concerns on how these enormous nuclear expenditures will impair Ontario Hydro's financial ability to rehabilitate and adequately maintain the rest of the system. We're seeing evidence of inadequate Ontario Hydro maintenance within Clarington.
Clarington Hydro's customers are supplied from two 44 kV distribution lines. One of these lines has a long section that is 50 years old. During the summer of this year there were 17 interruptions on eight different days on this line. We've been unable to get an answer from Ontario Hydro as to what corrective action they'll take. We've got customers that are hopping mad over this problem and we don't blame them. There's one of our customers on this line that is extremely sensitive to these interruptions. It's a rapidly growing customer that runs a number of manufacturing lines 24 hour a day, 7 days a week. Even one momentary power interruption can cost them as much as $30,000 in equipment damage and lost production.
We have a growing concern that this nuclear problem is being looked at in isolation. Ontario Hydro is unable to raise rates for the remainder of the century; has some $30 billion in debt, and that is estimated to be twice as much as they should have to enter a competitive market; and is now faced with an estimated $5 billion to $8 billion to recover its nuclear assets, an estimate that many have little comfort relying on. Given this dire financial situation, what hope is there that the rest of Hydro's assets will receive necessary attention?
We understand that there are transmission constraints that will limit the capability of bringing supply in from neighbouring utilities, a key consideration when you're looking at possibly opening up for competition. Based upon our local experience, it appears that Hydro's existing transmission and distribution system is inadequately maintained. There are other problems at Hydro besides nuclear and we haven't heard what the pricetag may be in those areas. If there isn't an adequate transmission system to deliver electricity to the customer, it won't matter how much generating capacity there is in the province. We think there will be a short-term requirement for significant transmission and distribution expenditures. The committee should ask: Has Hydro factored transmission system expenditures necessary to accommodate a competitive electricity environment into their financial projections? Are there other options that would be less costly than the proposed nuclear recovery plan?
The third issue: real and effective regulation of Ontario Hydro. The committee has heard from the Ontario Energy Board and seen evidence of the frequent dismissals of OEB recommendations. We believe OEB's powers should have teeth and Hydro should be obliged to comply with the board's rulings. It doesn't make much sense to have these expensive hearings if they aren't adhered to.
That's not to say we've always agreed with the board on its recommendations; we haven't. In fact, we were one of about 270 utilities here in Ontario that benefited in 1997 from Hydro ignoring a board wholesale rate recommendation. In spite of our good fortune from Hydro not adhering to this recommendation, which saved us about $80,000, we don't believe it is appropriate for Hydro to be granted this freedom to act.
Another example of this lack of regulation is the actions taken by Ontario Hydro Retail. As you have heard in previous testimony, Ontario Hydro retail doesn't even have to submit to a regulator to change retail rates. In 1995, when our commission looked at expanding its service to all of Clarington, Ontario Hydro reacted by giving higher-density customers a significant rate decrease. Courtice, the community that was most interested in having Clarington Hydro expand, was the recipient of this decrease. We believe this was a deliberate move to thwart Clarington Hydro's expansion efforts, and it was effective at doing that. Hydro lowered rates for their customers that were at risk of being lost at the expense of other rural customers where there was no risk. There have to be some controls in place to prevent inappropriate cross-subsidization of rates in the face of competitive pressures.
In summary, it is imperative that the government steer the course for the electricity industry. The white paper needs to be released. Significant expenditure decisions cannot be made without an accurate vision of the future of the industry.
There must be due regard to the rest of the provincial electrical system. Hydro's remaining financial capacity should not be used on nuclear recovery at the expense of other key Hydro assets. These assets will be as essential as generating assets in a future competitive market.
We need an electricity system that is responsive to the needs of the people of Ontario. It is high time that the monopoly portion of Hydro be strictly regulated.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to present. We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Van Dyk. We appreciate that. We will proceed to the caucuses, two minutes for questioning. We'll begin with Mr Conway.
Mr Conway: Thank you, good people from Clarington Hydro. There's nothing like an honest witness. I liked your little confession about you had profited from Hydro giving --
Mr Van Dyk: We keep our rates down.
Mr Conway: Now listen, that's what I want to talk about. Given restructuring, one of the real issues is, should we have Ontario Hydro Retail and a utility like Clarington Hydro competing for customers in the same jurisdiction? I take it it would be your view that Ontario Hydro retail should withdraw from the jurisdiction of Clarington Hydro?
Mr Van Dyk: Yes, we do.
Mr Conway: Do you have any comments in terms of restructuring about there needing to be a deliverer of last resort? Do you see that as an issue in an area like Clarington?
Mr Dave Clark: We've just completed a study looking at the amalgamation of all the utilities and the Hydro utility within the region of Durham, and it was concluded that that could be effectively and done and the rural areas looked after too. I think there are solutions out there that can be accomplished that will look after the rural areas as well; in other words, shoulder-to-shoulder utilities right across the province.
Mr Conway: If you moved north into Victoria and Haliburton, would you be interested in taking over the delivery system for Haliburton county?
Mr Clark: There are some areas within Durham region that are as remote and sparsely populated as areas to the north.
Mr Conway: But for every one of those customers in Durham, you've got presumably 50 customers in areas like Bowmanville and other urban centres, n'est-ce pas?
Mr Clark: One of the things we found in both studies that we did was that it wasn't necessarily a factor of the density of the population but the density of the load that was significant.
Mr Conway: Just a last question: You make a point, and we haven't really heard too much evidence on this, but you really pointed out that there is a decrepitude about the current transmission system in that part of Ontario Hydro that you have in Durham region, and that's been serious and getting worse, I take it.
Mr Clark: It has been getting much worse. We have a group of customers in Newcastle that have been experiencing far from reliable power over this last summer particularly.
Mr Conway: Are Ontario Hydro people privately confessing that they just don't have the resources to keep those facilities up to a good standard?
Mr Clark: The answer we're getting so far is that there are other projects that are taking precedence over this particular project, and there is also concern being raised as to reorganization that is taking place at Ontario Hydro retail. There is a lot of uncertainty as to who is going to be responsible for those particular expenditures.
Mr Laughren: I assume by your brief that you are in favour of competition entering the electricity market. Is that a safe assumption?
Mr Clark: Yes, we are.
Mr Laughren: On page 5 you talk about when Hydro headed you off from expanding your jurisdiction by engaging in a very competitive practice. Do you think the private sector wouldn't do that in spades. Why wouldn't they be at least as competitive, if not more so, than Ontario Hydro? They would have a very tough bottom line to think about.
Mr Clark: In response to that, we're not afraid of competition whatsoever. We feel that what took place in 1995 was there was cross-subsidization of this higher-density area from the rural rates. It gets to our third point, really, that we're not afraid of that as long as there is adequate regulation to prevent that type of activity from happening.
Mr Laughren: Why couldn't a private operator cross-subsidize as well? What's wrong with that? I don't understand.
Mr Clark: That is a concern, but if we're dealing with the monopoly end of the business, there will have to be --
Mr Laughren: No, I'm not talking about monopoly; we're talking about in a competitive market. It could be a private operator who had a high-density area and a less dense area and would do whatever they could to maintain and expand their market, surely. I just don't understand the point.
Mr Clark: We're not afraid of competition whatsoever, as long as there's an even playing field. Ontario Hydro is our regulator and makes the rules that we have to follow as far as setting our rates. We can't do the same things that Ontario Hydro can do right now.
Mr Laughren: But then you'd be calling for a regulated private sector.
Mr Clark: No. I think the monopoly portion of the business has to be regulated but the portion that is not deemed to be a monopoly would not have to be regulated to the same extent.
Mr Laughren: So you would throw it wide open and you wouldn't object to practices by the private sector to cross-subsidize if they weren't a monopoly.
Mr Clark: As long as we're working on an even playing field, we have no objection.
Mr Laughren: Well, that's what I'm talking about.
Mr O'Toole: I'm inspired by Mr Laughren's pleading for the competitive marketplace; it's a real revelation. I think he has grown with the experience on this committee and his experience over the last five years.
The humour aside, I commend the commission openly for their concerted, genuine effort to reorganize and realize the economies in the one utility for Durham. I commend you for that. It shows vision, leadership and confidence, something in scarce supply today. I want that for the record.
There are members of Ontario Hydro here, surreptitiously hanging around, listening to what's being said.
Mr Conway: Bill Farlinger is watching.
Mr O'Toole: Yes, Bill is watching. I'm sure they've heard your cause with the high-voltage lines that service the municipality of Clarington. I would urge you to write to me as your member and I will make sure that he gets it personally.
On a more sincere note, we've not heard --
Mr Conway: That sounds like a politically motivated question.
Mr O'Toole: I know. There are times and places for everything.
I have to comment that the elected leadership of the municipality of Clarington, outside of you as elected commissioners, has not taken the opportunity to prevail on Ontario Hydro to date. In my view, silence is acceptance. I'm getting quite a mixed story on the three station sites. Bruce is a community widely embracing nuclear operations. That's what it said clearly. What I hear at Pickering, where we should be today -- but we're in Oshawa, neutral territory, I guess -- is a lot of community angst. Without putting you on the spot, are the nuclear operations and the interrelationship between the community, of which you're a significant part as elected people, and myself, accepted in that particular operation, the Darlington site? Is it a good, willing partnership?
Ms Pauline Storks: I would say yes.
Mr Van Dyk: I think there's a good working relationship with us, other than the equipment failure on their part. They are good listeners; they're very slow doers.
Mr O'Toole: The charge of this committee is community safety across Ontario, and there's a further requirement for the assurance of supply. That's an important concern of this committee as well. I'm reassured that nuclear safety in Clarington seems to be working favourably in that community. Thank you for appearing here today.
The Chair: I'd like to thank the witnesses for their evidence and the presentation. Thank you for being here.
I think I should be writing an Ontario book of quotations. I've noted this again, "good listeners and very slow doers." I suppose that would apply to a lot of people, as an Ontario witticism. Good comments. Thank you so much.
ONTARIO HYDRO EMPLOYEES
The Chair: Our next witness is the panel of employees. I have three listed on my calendar. There will be up to 30 minutes for the presentation and questions and answers.
Mr Peter Falconer: Thank you for this opportunity to talk to you. My name is Peter Falconer. I've worked at Ontario Hydro, Pickering, for about 16 years. I live on the doorstep of the Pickering plant. My house backs on to the land that is owned by Ontario Hydro. The park that was referred to earlier backs on to my house. I can look out my bedroom window and see all eight units of that plant when the trees don't have leaves on them.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Falconer. A little more than I needed just to identify yourself to start with, but I appreciated the scope of your identification. I would just ask the other two to identify themselves and then we can proceed any way you would like to present your evidence.
Mr Bob Peters: My name is Bob Peters. I work at Darlington nuclear generating station. I've been an employee at Darlington since 1989. I am a mechanical maintainer and I just happen to be a joint health and safety committee member for the last seven years at the station.
I thank the committee for the opportunity to speak. I have a presentation that I will be giving. I regret to inform you but I forgot to include one part of the presentation, which is a copy of the work standards handbook for maintenance staff at Darlington. I'd like to have this entered as part of the exhibit.
Mr Dave Milton: My name is Dave Milton. I work at the Pickering nuclear plant as a nuclear operator, actually charged with the responsibility of operating the reactors. I've been there for 16 years. I'm also an executive board member of the Power Workers' Union.
What Peter and myself and Bob would like to do is a little different from the earlier groups. You have a copy of our submissions. We raise some issues in those submissions, but what we'd like to do is turn it over to the select committee members for any questions with regard to our reports, or any questions they may have in their minds that were raised by previous submissions. We'd like to turn it about and give you more time to address us and ask us things and see if we can reply and fill in some of the voids of information that still may be there.
The Chair: I assume you have a written copy of the presentation you wanted to leave with us.
Mr Milton: There should be two.
The Chair: You will file a copy of that handbook that you've indicated; we'll take that as well.
With that in mind, we'll turn the questioning open and begin with Mr Laughren.
Mr Laughren: Welcome, gentlemen, to the committee. As employees, it must be difficult sometimes in your own community when you hear a lot of the negative publicity surrounding the plant, especially at Pickering. One of you works at Darlington and the other two at Pickering. I'm wondering how it affects you on the job when you read about the bad publicity, when you hear it in your own community. As well, when do you hear about the problems? Do you hear about the problems before anyone else does?
Mr Milton: I'll comment on that first, and then Peter and Bob may want to comment on it. Particularly at Pickering, I think there's a sense of frustration with the workers there that we and Ontario Hydro, we as individuals in our communities and Ontario Hydro as the corporate citizen in the community, have been unable to explain ourselves appropriately, explain the problems we've experienced. We've found it difficult translating our technical jargon, our Hydro jargon, as people may call it, in laypersons' terms.
There are incidents of varying severity that have happened in Pickering over the years. Almost exclusively, the media portray them all as very serious. We've had difficulties and we're frustrated that we can't seem to make a significant portion of the community understand, "Yes, there are some that are significant, and here's our explanation and here's our understanding, but there are many that are of less significance, have little or no impact on you and the community, and here's why." So that's a bit of our failure as employees and I think a bit of Ontario Hydro's failure.
On your second point in that question, when do we become aware of issues, there are varying degrees within the station. Those individuals such as Peter, myself and Bob, who I would say are directly on the workface of the reactors -- we work with them, we follow the procedures, we deal with those -- we become aware almost instantaneously. In fact, in many cases we are the individuals who identify the problems and report them to our supervision.
There has been an improvement within Pickering, I'll speak specifically, on communicating what we find out about almost instantaneously to all the other employees, I would say, who are more remote from the reactor face: the support staff, the clerical staff, the technical staff, who predominantly work days and are not there around the clock. So Ontario Hydro, at least at Pickering in the last couple of years, has improved that dramatically through our e-mail systems, through our bulletins, through our pre-job briefings with our supervisors in the morning, so if I report something to my supervisor, the next day all the other supervisors will discuss that with their other workers so they are more educated and aware of what the issues are.
Mr Laughren: Thank you. As you might know, we were at Pickering this morning and had a presentation by AECB, and part of the presentation were some quite graphic pictures of what was really bad housekeeping at the plant. I think a lot of us on the committee, and I won't speak for other members, were scratching our heads and saying, "How is this possible?" It was so obvious, and even though I'm not an expert I could have said, "That's wrong," and believe me, I'm not an expert. I asked the question of the people at Pickering and they said, "Well, over a period of time it deteriorated and it didn't happen overnight," and so forth, but the AECB keeps coming forward with these reports and there's lots of evidence too. It's not just scaremongering or anti-nuclear people saying it. Have you got and explanation for that?
Mr Milton: I'll talk in general and then maybe specifically to the housekeeping. In general, I think the way the way to approach this, and this is a generalization, is that throughout the 1980s -- I think you heard this from the AECB and from other individuals -- Pickering performed at the highest levels in the world, their capacity factors, their costs, and other utilities came to us to learn how to do things better. What we I think did collectively as a station is that we started to rest on those past successes. We got overconfident. We did not apply what most businesses would call continuous improvement principles, where you can't just stay there. You have to keep on raising the bar and striving to improve. In fact, the rest of the nuclear industry did that. They caught up to Pickering and passed Pickering. We rested on those laurels.
Why did we do that? There is a whole host of theories. Mine, being at the plant and seeing what developed since 1981, since I've been there, is that around 1988-89 and into the 1990s we went through budget cuts, staffing cuts that demotivated people, that affected morale, that made it difficult to accomplish the necessary tasks with the resources that were allocated. We shifted, as an organization, as management set directions and goals, from safety first at all points to safety if it's not really too serious and "Let's not compromise productivity." That mixed message got out.
I'll give you an example. Before, if a procedure was being followed and could not be followed according to the procedure, in the 1980s it would have been: "Stop the work immediately. Let's get the necessary people together and review this before we do anything." What became apparent in the early 1990s was: "We don't have those people. They're not available. Go ahead and do it the best way you can." As a worker, if you beat your head against the wall, you only beat it so often and then you say: "Well, they're not caring. They are not wanting to strive to higher standards. I'm tired of doing it myself. I'll do the best job I can. I'll do it as safely as I can." That will lead to an increase in human error, when you set up an environment like that. That has slowly started shifting. With regard to housekeeping, I'll ask you the question: You were at Pickering. Did you see an improvement from the pictures?
Mr Laughren: Yes. May I ask one final question? Do we have time?
The Chair: You may indeed.
Mr Laughren: What are your views on the call for an environmental assessment?
Mr Milton: I think it's an inappropriate forum. I understand the community wants. I was at the town council meetings when the bylaw was passed. I was at Sally McLeod's first town meeting. What I clearly heard from -- if you take away all the Hydro people, the Power Workers' Union people, the anti-nuclear people -- the citizens of Pickering who didn't belong to these affiliations was, "Is that plant safe?" I think what an environmental assessment hearing does is open up the Pandora's box of the future of the nuclear electricity industry and do nothing to answer the question of whether Pickering is safe. What is needed is an independent task force or committee that will look at those questions that Councillor Senis raises about drinking water, about air quality, about the land, about what is going on in the plants. Give us detailed information about the alarm that went off. Put it so we can understand it. Get a dialogue going.
What I think should be happening and what we asked for is for this select committee to consider the creation of some kind of ongoing, community-based, regular monthly or quarterly committee meetings where we can have this dialogue. We have offered to the Power Workers' Union that we would attempt to set that up and give information as we get it and share that with the community, because through dialogue, through education I think we'll be able to solve many of the concerns in the community.
Mr Galt: Good afternoon. Thanks for the presentation and for being with us. We have heard all kinds of stories and they are starting to sound awfully similar, everything from the nuclear culture, the management gets the kind of union it deserves, and I thought maybe we were in trouble. It's not just nuclear as you look at Ontario Hydro. Back in the 1980s I was hearing all these stories about one person working up the pole with 10 watching. Those kinds of stories are telling us there's a problem in that organization. Obviously, from some of the pictures we saw today, that didn't just start yesterday. It was pictures of the fact that people didn't care about their workplace regardless of what management or worker level they were at. Is it as simple as you're describing it: "We got here just because we thought we were the greatest; we just kept looking inward and didn't look out to see what else was going on"?
Mr Milton: I don't think it's as simple as that. I think that's a strong element. If you look through particularly the last three years, what Ontario Hydro employees have gone through, in particular Power Workers' Union members, we've lost over 5,000 members to cuts, budgets have been cut at Ontario Hydro, there's the constant debate in the communities and in the province about privatization, about competition. While those things are necessary and have to continue, there's an effect on the human being. You're concerned about job security, you are concerned about your future, you are concerned about your health, your wellbeing, and I think anything that can distract your 100%, undivided attention from your task at hand can end up producing performance that is not excellent. While it may be safe, it's not where it should be.
Mr Galt: I think you'd agree that this started long before 1993.
Mr Milton: It did, but to be honest, I really think it gained momentum in around 1992-93 because it takes a while for budget cuts and staff cuts to have an effect. When there's a cut in people there isn't an immediate effect that next week the performance starts to suffer, standards start to suffer. It takes time.
Mr Galt: As representatives of the Power Workers' Union, are you prepared to be part of the solution to this problem?
Mr Milton: Absolutely, 100%.
Mrs Fisher: I'm the member for the riding of Bruce and I asked this question of the Power Workers' panel that was at our hearings last week. I also asked this of Mr Murphy at the hearings in Toronto: We had the experience of seeing the British model, and further to having the opportunity with Mr Murphy and with the panel, we had correspondence with Mr Murphy indicating a desire to move forward -- I'm not suggesting it was uncooperative before -- in an even more cooperative way today. Have you had the opportunity to see the British presentation?
Mr Milton: Just earlier this morning I got a copy of it and scanned over it briefly.
Mrs Fisher: I would ask if you think it would be reasonable that all the workers see it.
Mr Milton: I have no problem with that, none whatsoever.
Mrs Fisher: We're looking for solutions here. We're not so much looking for dwelling on the past and who's to blame, at least I'm not -- I'll speak for me -- and all that type of thing. If you had a chance to scan it, you know that the results from it were very positive, and it does in some cases mean fewer workers, but it doesn't mean workers who are demoralized, it doesn't mean workers who won't perform; it means higher safety performance, it means merit increments, it means the right to shares in the company. It means just a multitude of improved factors, if you will: higher consumption because of demand and all those things that happen to a society because something is going well.
There's a whole different attitude in this community compared to the one where I come from. Do you believe that the workers of Ontario Hydro in general -- I know you are speaking for your site and yourself, for Darlington -- can see that they're going forward? Do you believe we can reach the goals we need to reach in bringing nuclear excellence back to Ontario?
Mr Milton: I would speak for the people I represent at Pickering, over 2,100. The answer is yes, but there is cautious optimism and concern because we've been on record as an organization -- I've been on record at Pickering town council, John Murphy has gone on record -- as willing to sit down with the company and look at creative issues, look at different non-traditional ways of solving the problems. We have not met with open arms from the company yet and we're a little cautious and a little concerned. We're prepared to do it but you, Mr Ontario Hydro, so to speak, have to be serious about this and prepared to sit down and both parties have to be flexible and have some give and take and maybe give up what are viewed as traditional roles or powers or prestige and do what's best for everybody.
Mrs Fisher: I'm hopeful that actually we can move forward that way, and that includes the Pickering site as well, by the way. Some people think because I only represent Bruce that's all I'm worried about, but I started at Pickering in 1970 and I knew what nuclear excellence was.
I was very discouraged this morning from some of the presentations, but I personally believe that the workers are committed. I know management is committed. The corporate head office has to be committed. Government has to find an answer. I think it's going to be a joint effort all the way around to make it work if it's going to be recovered.
Mr Kwinter: Mr Milton, this morning we had a presentation by AECB with photographs showing some of the maintenance problems, and also the AECB representative suggested that notwithstanding that improvements were being made, he was still very sceptical about whether it's going to be maintained, whether the ability is there, whether there is a culture to allow that to happen. Notwithstanding that, when we visited the plant, and I'm just a layman, and I walked down that long passage past the four A reactors and saw the airlock rooms, to me it was absolutely sparkling. What I really want to know is, is that just a showcase for visitors as they come in or is that what happens throughout the whole plant?
Mr Milton: We've been asked that more times than I care to remember, particularly since our two open houses we've had this year where we had some 5,000 various residents come through the plant.
No, it's not a showcase. Is it recent? Yes, it is. These initiatives are things that have happened over the last two and a half to three years, albeit not fast enough and maybe not at the pace the AECB would want, maybe not at the pace we would want, but they were things -- we were prodded by the AECB on the various pieces of documentation and we took action in those areas. They have been sustained for the last couple of years now.
I think what corporate management has done to clearly give an indication that they're serious about their commitment to improve and sustain that improvement -- Pickering has been less staffed or more understaffed compared to any other nuclear sites in Ontario Hydro on a unit basis, per a megawatt basis. We are understaffed compared to the nuclear reactors in the United States. We presently have about 2,700 and change regular permanent staff. What corporate management has said is that for a four-unit station at Pickering you need 1,800 staff, and to have eight units running at Pickering, because there are some economies of scale, it wouldn't be 3,600, it would be in the range of about 3,400.
They've started some of that already. We've gone from a low of 2,400 a couple of years ago to 2,700 now and going up another 700. That's an indication that you will have the skills, the resources, the people, the moneys necessary to sustain your improvements, because it requires enormous energy to improve and then you have to sustain that improvement. I think it can be done and it has been done so far in some of the areas.
Mr Conway: Mr Milton, I want to explore the question of the deployment of human resources. Ernst and Young in their financial analysis of the so-called NAOP, the nuclear recovery plan that the corporation has embarked upon, raised as one of their concerns the ability of the corporation, the ability of Hydro, to manage the human resources in a way that will make this thing work.
A number of people have commented over the years that the collective agreement at Ontario Hydro Nuclear is quite a remarkable document and not always the most flexible and most creative of agreements. It certainly is the view of some that one of the very real impediments in making this nuclear recovery plan work is the ability of management and labour to move people around when they're required for movement to get the right mix. Is that a legitimate concern in your view? What should this committee know about that issue, from your point of view and your colleagues' point of view?
Mr Milton: Some of the committee members have been given their politically motivated speeches or questions. Maybe I'll give mine. I don't think there's an employer anywhere in the world who if asked -- where they have a union and have a collective agreement -- is the collective agreement a barrier to their being more efficient and improving and getting better, would say that no, it's not a barrier. I would respectfully submit that any employer would say that.
That being said, it was signed by both parties. There are rules to follow within that collective agreement. We have indicated in writing to Bill Farlinger that with respect to the movement of staff, particularly within nuclear, we are sensitive to why that has to be done and why it has to be done properly and we're prepared to sit down and negotiate some creative methods to do that. To date, my understanding is that the documents have been exchanged between John Murphy, Peter Kelly, Bill Farlinger, that type of level. Some preliminary dialogue has gone on to how that can be accomplished.
Mr Conway: One of my concerns is that over the last number of years a lot of people with good intentions have agreed to sit down and discuss a lot of things, and a lot of things haven't changed. We had some very good testimony from the people at British Energy, who said: "No, the union's not our problem. We are a unionized shop and the union wasn't the problem." In fact the union was very creative and helpful in working that company out of a very difficult situation.
I certainly don't view myself as anti-union, but I can say this: When we've got a situation, when we've got a company that's a monopoly that is providing electricity and is substantially a nuclear company, you don't have to be Albert Einstein to see where problems might arise, and they have arisen. I saw Murphy's comments in the Globe and Mail yesterday, and he and Chairman Bill, apparently, are at the summit negotiating these matters. I just hope that we are not going to be faced with a situation that is going to be problematic here.
Mr Milton: I'll just make one more comment and Peter Falconer would like to address that a bit. Without getting into the specifics of some of the dialogue and paperwork that are exchanged at that level already, I think it would be achieved rather quickly if Mr Andognini had the authority as the chief nuclear officer to sit down with John Murphy and people such as myself to work that out. What happens in a company the size of Ontario Hydro or any large corporation is that there are the Karen Robinsons of the world, there are the vice-presidents of other areas of the company, and they're saying: "Whoa, we don't want that done in nuclear. That will affect us over here."
If Mr Andognini was left with the directions from Mr Farlinger, "You sit down with Mr Murphy and work out what you need in nuclear; I'll take care of the problems with the rest of the company," I think that could be done.
Mr Conway: Would it be easier if we just aggregated Ontario Hydro and separated out some of these players and divisions?
Mr Milton: Do you mean through the white paper or some initiative like that?
Mr Conway: Nuclear is a very special commitment. I think that has been acknowledged for a long time. I've endorsed the commitment for my entire public life and I'm not prepared to back away from it now. But I'm going to tell you that when I saw Chairman Bill do his little song and dance on August 13, it became a little bit harder to be supportive. Having said that, my question remains: Would it be easier to break the company up and separate, say, nuclear out from the rest of generation?
Mr Milton: Would it be easier? I don't know. What I think has to happen to make the types of discussions fruitful that you're talking about is that the corporation has to continue at the corporate level on this learning curve that it is in the nuclear industry business. You heard Chairman Bill say, "Jeez, we kind of got overwhelmed by this nuclear cult." They had a responsibility to listen. We were presenting information. We were telling them the effects of the cuts they wanted, but they weren't listening. Now they are.
Mr Conway: My final observation on this, and let me be really provocative: What do we know about this situation from a labour-management point of view? Any of us who have been in government have faced this. We've got a corporation that provides an absolutely vital commodity, a state-owned company that's overwhelmingly nuclear. Everybody knows we can't take a strike. It's one of the great fictions of Ontario's public life. We cannot take a strike in our public utility when that utility is 65% nuclear. If it were 35% nuclear, maybe, but it's not; it's 65%. So if you start with a situation that you're in the electricity business in a province as big and as empty and as cold as Ontario and you can't take a strike, and it's a state-owned enterprise, you could imagine what flows from that. I think even I could appreciate some of the difficulties and opportunities that both labour and management might have in this situation.
Mr Milton: That doesn't require an answer.
Mr Conway: I guess it's self-evident.
The Chair: All right. The plane has landed.
Mr Falconer: Could I just respond for a second?
The Chair: Yes, please do make a very brief response.
Mr Falconer: I had the pleasure about two years ago to meet a man from British Nuclear by the name of Paul Maycock, who came and took a tour of Pickering with two of the union representatives who worked in the Heysham plant. He was the manager of that plant at the time. We had a rather long and very informative discussion with him on management and union relationships.
Basically the way Paul put it to us was that when he was faced with a problem, and that could be something as serious as his corporate office saying, "We're going to downsize you, we're going to cut your budget," he did not go away to a room with his managers and decide, "This is what we're going to do and we're going to enforce that on the people who work in the plant." He immediately brought in his union representatives, he sat down with those people and he discussed thoroughly what the problem was, how they were going to address that. They may turn around and say, "We're going to fight corporate office because we don't think this is right"; conversely, they may say, "Where can we make these cuts in an effort to ensure that we can still produce a safe product?" He was very open about that and, as he was discussing this, I checked with the union people who were there and they backed him up 100% that that is how it's done, that is the British model. Currently, I don't believe that is the model within Ontario Hydro.
The Chair: All right, gentlemen. Thank you very much for your evidence and for being here to present to this select committee. We appreciate that very much. You are excused.
Mr Falconer: Thank you very much for the opportunity.
The Chair: We will pick up a copy of that handbook for the evidence.
The Chair: The next witness is Frank Adamek. Welcome to the select committee. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation, including questions and answers.
Mr Frank Adamek: My name is Frank Adamek. I don't work for Hydro -- I'm a freelance consultant -- but I've had a close association with Hydro over the years and I am quite dismayed about what I've seen. I'll start reading this. I'm not accustomed to public speaking. I am more at home in a control panel or at a keyboard.
The Chair: Frank, there has not been one witness as yet dying of bite wounds, so just relax.
Mr Adamek: I expect that Ontario Hydro management, along with the trade unions and the engineers' union, are vigorously petitioning this committee to give them carte blanche authorization to restore Ontario Hydro back to its former status as one of the top power utilities in the world. They no doubt are assuring you that they can do this on their own, without outside help or intervention. After all, they are the experts and best qualified for the task.
My counter is simply this: True experts and real professionals would not have permitted the utility to decay to its sad state today. I recognize that there may have been some assistance from previous government appointees, but there is logically no reason to expect that those who were primarily responsible for the problem are the best qualified to fix it.
Enormous manpower will be needed to assess the current status and to restore some, or optimistically most, of our nuclear plants to a safe and economical status. Therefore there is no option but to utilize most of the resources available within Hydro. However, I urge that outside expertise be utilized to address abusive union powers and to advise, audit, review and, in key areas, to approve internal administrative procedures. Budget estimates and economic analysis and justifications for plant repairs, modifications and upgrades, along with projected revenues, also will require close scrutiny. You can't just take their word for it. In case of disagreement, the outside authority must prevail.
I would like to stress that it is not the technology that has failed. What we have is a classic case of bureaucratic bungling reminiscent of the worst of the old Communist empire and many Third World governments.
I concede that I have a personal bias on the subject since I was a part of the pioneer team that designed Canada's first full-scale commercial nuclear power plant, Pickering A. After unit 1 construction was finished I was at the site as the engineer responsible for commissioning the liquid zone control system which controls reactor power and neutron flux tilt.
Because Canadian expertise and experience were valuable assets in the US in those days -- quite a turnaround -- I had the opportunity to work at several US locations. Before returning to Canada for family reasons I was Bechtel's senior startup commissioning engineer for a pressurized water reactor being built in Iowa. Based on my first-hand experience in both countries, I can say that the Candu system was second to none and that I could be proud of Canada's accomplishments.
After my return to Canada, I did not have any direct contact with our power plants for some time. I was occupied with many interesting projects, including conceptual design studies with the European fusion research community. However, last winter I found myself back at Pickering after an absence of 25 years. I was part of the jumper reduction team. That proved to be quite a shock. Pickering was not the same place that I remembered. What had happened?
The Andognini report acknowledged that the Candu system was robust. What was tactfully left unsaid was that the Candu reactor system must have been very robust in order to have survived operational and maintenance abuse for so long. The Pickering I saw in the winter of 1997 had degenerated into a tight, inbred club which had little more going for it than the similarly inbred anti-nuclear club. In some respects it might be considered worse. At least most anti-nukes are driven by a blind but honest faith. They appear to have no financial rewards.
This appears not to be the case at Hydro Nuclear. Pickering had an overabundance of heavily entrenched and highly overpaid bureaucrats whose sole interest was self-interest. Their primary skills were related to the avoidance of responsibility, passing the buck and perpetuating their empire. Nowhere in my long life and many travels have I seen this perfected to such an art form. In its own warped way it was awesome.
How and why this once-proud organization strayed to this low level can be debated endlessly. The fact remains that the damage is done. The important issue now is what is to be done about it and how. It is necessary to get into full damage control mode and to do so quickly. Furthermore, we cannot afford the luxury of pandering to the sniping and gloating of the anti-nuclear establishment.
There is nothing wrong with our nuclear technology. If you turn over a well-engineered and reliable car to a careless driver and an incompetent mechanic, it is not difficult to visualize what the fate of that car will be. Why would a complex and sophisticated piece of machinery be any different? Of course, the car analogy is simplistic. One can easily replace a few drivers and mechanics, assess the damage, fix the car and be on your way. It is not so easy to replace a few thousand operators, maintenance crews and engineering support staff.
Fortunately there is no need to do so en masse. My observation at the site was that many of the professional and technical staff are willing, ready and able to do serious work. The system imposed on them by inept and/or self-serving managers prevents them from being effective. Please note that when I use the term "management," I include union bosses with their own self-serving union credo.
Before any meaningful reconstruction can begin, this cancer must be removed, and must be removed skilfully, or it will grow back. The next step is to realistically assess the physical plant damage and determine what, if anything, is salvageable. If salvage is economically feasible, get on with it. The final and most important step is to set up a mechanism to continually monitor for re-emergence of the old cancer and for timely and positive corrective action. Third-party assistance and/or intervention is a must at all steps. The only way to minimize the negative aspects of inbreeding is to introduce new blood. It works for dogs, horses and managers.
Unfortunately this third-party involvement will not be easy to implement. At the Pickering site I sensed considerable hostility by many towards outsiders such as myself. It appears that our experience in the real world outside is seen to be a threat to the security of their club, and they are correct: It is a threat.
To further muddy the waters, there is a widespread belief in Ontario Hydro that the status quo will continue indefinitely because the AECB cannot or will not shut them down. They believe that one government agency would never choose to do anything that might create hardship to their brethren in another government agency, which includes crown corporations. My experiences in the nuclear fuel industry suggest that this belief does have some basis, and I am prepared to expand on that privately.
We are in a serious economic and social crisis now. Band-Aid patches and/or political posturing are not the solution. We need calm, rational and timely damage control measures. The anti-nuke groups want a complete shut-down. This is unrealistic. The union and old-guard management are trying to hang on to the status quo or some variation of it. This is also not realistic. There are contradictory economic analyses and projections. Frankly, I wouldn't trust either camp. Furthermore, it makes no sense to be guided by or to accept advice from the very people who are acknowledged to have created the problem and who are an integral part of the problem. Impartial third-party input and involvement is imperative. I suggest that the engineering profession and the manufacturing sector become seriously involved via some coordinating and mediating organization. I suggest that the PEO take on this role.
Because Ontario Hydro is a crown corporation, the final responsibility for corrective action is of course with the current elected government. Like it or not, that's the reality.
Because of time constraints, I can't delve into details. Briefly, in addition to the general issue of mismanagement, the following are specific issues which I consider to be the most urgent areas of concern:
Damage control, which includes an unbiased and realistic assessment of current status and inventory and an evaluation of options: shutdown, temporary repair, long-term upgrade, privatization.
Union power. Please note that I include the engineering union or society along with the Power Workers' Union. The flagrant abuse of this power is a major factor in the general lack of accountability and responsibility.
The delicate but crucial issue of quality assurance. There's no denying that an appropriately considered and well-implemented QA program is an asset to any organization. Unfortunately, QA is a double-edged sword. It can also be misused by management to abrogate personal responsibilities, and when allowed to go out of control it supersedes and replaces responsible engineering judgement and practice. The end result is uncontrolled cost, inferior product, low morale and compromised safety.
The Chair: Mr Adamek, I've let you go over the time because I know the committee is quite attentive to what you're saying. How many more pages might you have in your presentation?
Mr Adamek: I've just got one more point.
The state of administrative, operational and plant maintenance procedures is another issue. Documentation is cumbersome and in many instances it's incomprehensible. When comprehensible in the literal sense, procedures are often contradictory. There will be a massive effort required to clean this up. In fact, I think one of the former speakers brought this point up too.
If one can economically justify putting the plants back into service and if the above issues can be resolved, the subsequent technical challenge to get a plant up and running will be trivial by comparison. For the sake of our economy, I wish you success.
The Chair: Mr Adamek, I thank you very much for your presentation. That concludes your time and there is no time for questioning, but I hope you will table a copy of your presentation with the clerk so we can make sure a copy is given to all members.
Mr Adamek: I brought 25 copies.
The Chair: Good for you. We appreciate that very much. We'll distribute those to all members right now and we thank you for attending upon the committee, for your submission and for your interest.
The Chair: Is Rick Marshall here, please? Good, we're able to deal with you now, Mr Marshall, if you'd be good enough to come up to the witness stand in a moment. Welcome to the select committee.
Mr Rick Marshall: My name is Rick Marshall. I live in Cobourg, Ontario. As I say in my presentation here, I wear three hats. I'm a Hydro employee, I'm a PWU member, but I'm also a ratepayer, a taxpayer and a parent. I want to start off by thanking you all for giving me a chance to make somewhat of a presentation tonight, and I do so without prejudice.
My first concern is that normally when I've seen an expenditure of this type, especially by a public corporation, it seems to me that there have always been a number of impact studies, environmental studies, a lot of studies I've seen before. To date, I don't think I've seen any of those types of studies I'm speaking of.
The first question that comes to my mind that I've jotted down here is how the decision came about for an American firm to do this. I'm of the understanding that, say, a German or a French -- it seems if you look in the top capacity factors of our business, which is nuclear, I don't see an American firm in the top probably 20 or 30 reactors in the world. So that concerns me.
To that end, in a search for an appropriate adviser, to justify the statement that I don't think the person who was asked to do this and did the search for it -- we all know his name. He resigned. That concerns me too. Nobody has been given an explanation, at least I haven't, of to why he resigned. So that concerns me.
I have been quite active in trying to witness all the parliamentary channels and all your hearings and I must say you have a pretty impressive list of people who have witnessed before you. I've seen British Energy, I've seen Natural Gas, I've seen a lot of people. It must be hard for you to stay on track, because it seemed that their subject was more towards, say, privatization or something rather than the IIPA report. I imagine it's pretty tough to stay on track. That concerns me. I hope and, from all I've seen from you, trust that you're looking at this carefully and that it doesn't cause any conflicts of interest or that the subject doesn't get changed from one to the other.
My next concern is the safety of our operation of the affected reactors, those being the seven that are being laid up. You probably beat this one to death, and I've got testimony here from many different aspects. My concern is the excuse given for Pickering A having to be shut down at the end of the year. I believe that statement is totally untrue. At least two of these units, being units 4 and 1, I believe could have been run indefinitely. The repairs that needed to be made -- the plug was pulled almost immediately -- could have been completed by the end of the year -- granted, with some effort, but that would leave them available for an undetermined amount of time. Regarding the Bruce A units, I was speaking with somebody yesterday and it has been discovered that units 3 and 4 have nowhere near the boiler problems that 1 and 2 do, therefore I believe those to be two viable units to run. That concerns me very much.
The question I've got written here rings loud in my mind. With an expenditure of that type, as has been stated time and time again, it seems to be more of a management problem than a machinery problem. I guess I'm wearing a taxpayer's hat here, saying, "Wait a minute now, $8 billion; could we not spend a lot less than that dealing with the management problem and maybe take a little bit more of that and fix the machinery problem?"
This leads me into the next thing, with all that's going on, and that is your recommendations and the weight they've carried. I have spoken with one of your members about this. I heard testimony from the OEB and certain other people and I'm hoping that your recommendations carry some weight. As I said before, I trust that your recommendations will be based on these expert witnesses you've received.
The expenditure of $8 billion bothers me, but it also bothers me in the sense that, and I'm not absolutely positive, this must be costing the taxpayers money as well for the committee travelling all over Ontario and having people speak. I can imagine. I'm interested in knowing what it costs the taxpayer just for this aspect of the IIPA report.
Interjection: We're all free.
Mr Marshall: You're all free. Okay.
Mr Conway: Mrs Johns is a deal.
Mrs Johns: Thank you.
Mr Marshall: It seems in all the goings-on there's the accountability. That's what I'd be asking a lot of people; Hydro, for example: Where are the supporting documents, the business cases, the impact studies which I mentioned before that don't seem to be there, viable or at least considered alternatives? As I mentioned before with the Pickering A units, two of them could be run. I believe two at Bruce A could be run. Were those considered? Probably not in the case of Bruce A, because the findings of the boilers were just recently found out.
I'm wondering, on the part of government, if they considered any actions as far as a legislative hold, if that's entirely possible with Ontario Hydro. I wonder if they've given consideration that hopefully my children, growing up, will have the availability of reliable and relatively cheap power compared to an awful lot of areas, although I've heard certain conflicting testimony on that.
It has been stated that there are no experienced persons in this province. I don't know whether that was stated by you or by somebody to you, but I find that at work on a regular basis and that really concerns me. I've got written here, "Canadian personnel have been let go by foreign personnel who are now occupying those jobs." Another one of my concerns is, is it legal? Are they obeying immigration laws? Are we allowing them to set forth with our public utility and are they violating some kind of immigration law? To me, it seems they are.
I'll end this in being a triple-headed person sort of thing: Will the generation -- or the little people, so as not to confuse it with electricity generation -- enjoy the reliable, environmentally friendly energy sources while looking back in time and saying, "Yes, we made the right choice; yes, we did go with the right decisions"? This should be our motivating factor when taking into consideration all the evidence we gather and act in a responsible manner without influence from political pressures or business aspirations.
That's pretty well my presentation. I thank you very much for your time.
The Chair: Thank you. You have exhausted your time. We appreciate your effort and your presentation. We thank you very much for appearing before the select committee. You're excused.
Mr Laughren: Mr Chair, I raise a point of privilege. I wanted to wait until all the deputants were finished. I speak perhaps for the committee, not just for myself as a member. It has to do with the white paper.
The white paper is being released tomorrow morning, I think around 11, and there's a pre-release briefing at 9:30, I think it is. I find it very strange that this committee has been excluded from that process. There's a gentleman in the room, Mr Martin -- he's given me permission to use his name -- who was invited to that pre-release briefing tomorrow morning, and here we are as a committee that has been dying for the release of that report so we could do a better job, it seems to me, and we're excluded from the process. I would have thought, and I'm not trying to say we're that special, the minister would have timed the release of the report -- I'm serious -- so we could have been part of the pre-release briefing.
As it is now, and I'm only one person, early in the morning I'm heading north, I've got all sorts of commitments in my constituency tomorrow, and I am really offended by the rather cavalier way in which this committee -- not just me; I'm not speaking for myself here -- has been treated, given how hard we've worked. We have worked hard and we've really been anxious, in a very responsible way, to get the white paper. We've pushed, we've pushed, we've pushed, but we haven't engaged in any histrionics and so forth. I just think the message somehow needs to get to the minister that this is -- I'm speaking for one member, but I think it's unacceptable.
Mr Conway: I just want to concur with Mr Laughren's remarks. Speaking for myself, I will have to beg off the morning session at Darlington because I intend to be at the briefing at Queen's Park in the morning. I'm hoping I can join the committee in progress at Darlington some time late morning or at noonhour. Brother Kwinter has volunteered to carry on for our side at the regularly scheduled events tomorrow at Darlington.
It does seem, even to those of us who have served in government, that this is bad form. It may be inadvertent, but many of us have been calling for the release of the white paper and some accommodation for a committee that is going to be very much affected by its content. For whatever reason, a lot of people have been accommodated and we haven't, and I regret that.
Mr Galt: I appreciate the comments that have been made by the opposition and the third party. Both are energy critics and I have to agree that we should be present for the release of the white paper, the opportunity to be in the lockup and get that information first hand.
I've discussed it with caucus members and we're more than willing to postpone the visit to Darlington, if that is in order with the opposition members and third party, and we can get another day to go to Darlington. I hope that doesn't mess up plans at Darlington too much, but with the decision we're hearing today, that the white paper is coming out -- at least that's the message we're getting, that it's coming tomorrow -- maybe this committee should postpone that particular scheduled item for I guess it would be approximately two weeks. Then we're into the House sitting. I guess we'll have to look at another time, Mr Chair. I don't have a suggestion right now.
Having said that, I think it's important that we not bypass Darlington. It's in Mr O'Toole's riding. I think we owe it to Ontario Hydro, to the minister, the whole works, that we need to tour that facility as well.
Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Mr Chair, if I may.
The Chair: I'm dealing with a point of privilege right now, Mr O'Toole. If you want to speak to the point of privilege that has been raised, I'm happy to entertain your comment.
Mr O'Toole: On the point of privilege, Mr Chair: I respect the comments made by all parties. What's remarkable to me is that there has been a unanimous effort by this committee representing various perspectives, and in that respect I feel pretty much the same thing. It's unfortunate scheduling and those things, so I think Mr Galt has made the appropriate recommendation, which I would support fully. It's the tone I hear from all the members, because we are a part of a very important deliberation, and this part has been a requested part and it's only appropriate that we get a full briefing.
The Chair: Mr Laughren, it is not a point of privilege, but I do understand, and I don't say that even with a smile on my face. I say that most sincerely, because I do understand the issue you raise and I believe you to know that I would share the concern you express. In the parliamentary sense it is not a point of privilege.
I think the suggestion that has been posed, if it's agreeable to members of the committee, having just heard that the white paper will be made available, and we've only just heard about it in the matter of the last hour or two, is that it would be appropriate, if it is with the unanimous consent of the committee, that we stand down the visit to Darlington tomorrow. I would require unanimous consent by the caucuses to agree to that and reschedule that visit. We would then have a chance to be part of the briefings.
I would like to register, on behalf of the committee, the concern that has continued to be expressed -- I want to point out it's been expressed not just by the opposition caucuses, it's been raised by everyone -- about the timing of the white paper. I think all members of the caucuses have been pressing for this and, in some cases, in fairness, I have heard it mentioned that the white paper might well have been introduced even two or three weeks later, so at least in this sense there's still an opportunity for this committee to deal with it. We have an opportunity to reflect upon that as a committee, to take it unto ourselves and determine what we do with it in terms of that December 1 deadline. That's up to us to decide.
I, on the one hand, regret the fact that it's caught us in midstream; on the other hand, I at least am pleased it's here and we can now deal with it. There is time still to deal with it and we should deal with it effectively. It does mean making some quick adjustments to our schedule. There will be some costs incurred with that. We have things such as the transportation facilities for tomorrow and the arrangements with the plant management and AECB that are not modest, but they are certainly not the kinds of costs that can't be incurred. If I have unanimous agreement from the caucuses, then I will proceed in that direction.
Mr Laughren, it's not only a ruling on your point of privilege but also it is to give my personal sympathy to the thrust of your point and to see if there is a way for us, as we have been doing for some weeks now, finding a common consensus among ourselves of how to proceed. That's a far better way I think to run a committee than it is by running always by the rule books.
Let me pause with that and ask, is there a sense among the caucuses that that would be an appropriate way to proceed tomorrow?
Mr Conway: It's agreeable to us.
The Chair: Mr Laughren?
Mr Laughren: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you. I need to hear that for Hansard, that's all, sir. For the government caucus?
Mr Galt: Agreed.
The Chair: Then I will take it that the visit to Darlington tomorrow will be rescheduled. If you will leave that with me and with the clerk to try to find a way to deal with that as quickly as possibly, we'll deal with that without going through subcommittee. We'll try to make that happen at an appropriate time.
I would think that in the light of the white paper it would be appropriate for the subcommittee to at least be on the alert that I would intend to call us together to discuss the process of dealing with it and how we might want to process that. I don't have a time or a place in mind at this moment, rather just to alert you that this is what I propose to do if that's agreeable.
I have a couple of other items to go over before you leave.
Mr Kwinter: Mr Chair, further on your point: Could you tell us where and when this lockup is taking place?
The Chair: Mr Kwinter, I suspect you know considerably more than I. I have no idea, but I would think that Mr Galt will be able to let us know.
Mr Galt: Tomorrow morning.
Mr Laughren: Do you know where it is?
Mr Martin: I gave my copy to the reporter.
The Chair: You have a copy of what?
Mr Martin: It's an invitation from the minister.
The Chair: Oh, all right, that's fine. If it had been the white paper, I would have gone extremely ballistic, let me tell you. You've never seen an Irish ICBM before. That would have been the first one. Have you got the information there? Perhaps Mr Laughren would be good enough to read it out.
Mr Laughren: This is for Mr Martin. We may not be welcome. "The briefing will take place on Thursday, November 6 at 9:30 am in the Thames Room, Macdonald Block, second floor."
The Chair: I think that's probably a place to start. If there is any additional information prior to that, Mr Laughren, I'll ask the clerk to try to determine it and make sure all members are notified no later than 3 am.
Mr Conway: By the way, if there ever was a case of privilege, this is it, but that's another subject. I'm deadly serious.
The Chair: But it is not, Mr Conway, for another reason. But having said that, I think I have dealt with it in a way that's to the satisfaction of all members of the committee.
Now can I finish off a couple of other points here before we leave? Let me make sure we're very clear about this. First of all I wanted to thank, obviously, St George's Memorial (Anglican) Church for hosting us. Clearly now we can scrap the announcement about tomorrow's activities, because we are now meeting somewhere else.
I want to say that we are wishing our best to Mrs Johns. It is Mrs Johns's anniversary today, so we'll wish her well. She has continued along through these difficult waters today, barely waiting for the evening to blossom forth and for her to go out and celebrate with her husband.
Is there any other business before the committee? There is one final point about the week of the 17th. We talked about this the other day. In terms of scheduling, clearly we need to have a block of time for that week. We worked it through similar to what we discussed in committee at the last meeting: Monday, 3:30 to 6 and 7 to 9; Tuesday, 3:30 to 6; Wednesday, 10 to 12 and 3:30 to 6; Thursday, 10 to 12 and 3:30 to 6. The House leaders will all be advised of their agreement that the members of this committee will be available.
Mr Laughren: Sorry, what was the Wednesday schedule?
The Chair: Wednesday is 10 to 12 and 3:30 to 6.
Mr Laughren: Well, there is conflict with at least one committee that I'm aware of.
The Chair: I'm sure there's a conflict with more than one committee. Unless there's a problem, all the House leaders had given an undertaking that for this select committee members would be subbed so they could continue with their responsibilities.
If anybody wants to make a suggestion -- for example, altering this time -- I'm open to your suggestion now, but I'd like to get it locked in, before we go, for the week of --
Mr Galt: Go through it again just so I can click in.
The Chair: All right. Monday, 3:30 to 6 and 7 to 9; Tuesday, 3:30 to 6; Wednesday, 10 to 12 and 3:30 to 6; Thursday, 10 to 12 and 3:30 to 6.
Mr Laughren: Could that be contingent, that this schedule will be in effect only if we're not debating back-to-work legislation for the teachers?
Mr Conway: That's provocation, Mr Chair.
The Chair: I didn't rise to yours, Mr Conway, and I won't rise to Mr Laughren's.
If that's agreeable, we will use this, assuming each one is at the call of the Chair and any other calls necessary. I appreciate your generosity of spirit for the day. It has been a long day and we're now prepared to adjourn. Any other business? No. Then the committee will stand adjourned until the call of the Chair or if the subcommittee meets or on Monday the 17th.
The committee adjourned at 1840.