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article imageFour coal-fired units to be shut down in Ontario

By KJ Mullins     Oct 1, 2010 in Environment
The Canadian government announced that they will be shutting down four coal-fired units today applauded by The Green Energy Act Alliance (GEAA), nurses, farmers, First Nations, trade unionists, environmentalists and builders of clean energy.
The shutting down of the units is a step in the right direction to replace coal with clean energy sources. Since 2003 when coal-fired electricity use peaked the Ontario Power Generation's emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are down 81 and 77 per cent. The plant's carbon dioxide emissions are down 71 per cent from 2003.
"Coal is history is Ontario," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, the coordinating organization for the GEAA in a press release. "Ontario can't afford the costs of coal any longer - the smog, human illness and global warming that coal-fired energy brings. Replacing coal with renewable energy is a bargain by any measure."
In 2009 generation by Ontario's coal plants was at the lowest levels in 45 years. In 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Energy estimated that when the health and environmental impacts are factored into the cost of electricity, coal costs 16.4 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 9.6 cents for wind. The 2008 report by the Ontario Medical Association, "Illness Cost of Air Pollution" found that air pollution was a factor in almost 9,500 premature deaths each year in Ontario. In 2005 smog was a factor for over 16,000 hospital admissions.
"Nurses are pleased with today's announcement because it will save lives. We know up to 250 deaths each year are directly related to the burning of coal. That's why we are calling on the government to keep moving forward and accelerate its plan to shut down all coal plants," says Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) in a press release.
The RNAD is pleased that the four units are shutting down but would like the 11 remaining units that are running to also be non-operational.
"Closing the 11 remaining coal units now instead of four years down the road would save 1,000 lives," adds Grinspun.
Coal plants add toxins like mercury and lead to the air we breathe. By ending the use of coal in Ontario it would be like taking seven million cars off of the road.
"Getting rid of toxins such as mercury and lead would also reduce the estimated 100-thousand asthma attacks and other illnesses that people suffer as a result of pollution from coal," says David McNeil, RNAO's President.
More about Coal-fired energy, Air pollution, Ontario
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