Ontario nurses say shut down of coal-fired power units will save lives. RNAO urges government to close all remaining units this year
TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2010 – People in Ontario will have safer and cleaner air to breathe thanks to a government decision to close four coal-fired generating units, nurses say after an announcement by the province’s Minister of Energy in Toronto.
“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).
Although the province has pledged to end its reliance on coal by 2014, RNAO has joined physicians and environmentalists - the Ontario Clean Air Alliance and Canadian Physicians for the Environment - in saying waiting would only lead to more deaths. “Closing the 11 remaining coal units now instead of four years down the road would save 1,000 lives,” adds Grinspun.
Ending the use of coal in Ontario would be the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road, says RNAO’s President. “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.
McNeil adds that the government could easily offset the power gap by placing more emphasis on conservation and cleaner, energy efficient alternatives such as natural gas, solar and wind power. Since clean energy is more expensive to produce, RNAO says it is important that government create mechanisms to compensate low income families for the resulting increase in energy costs.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
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