A Quebec coalition of politicians and activists is calling for the permanent closure of the province's lone nuclear facility in light of the crisis in Japan.
The group says maintaining Quebec's Gentilly-2 power plant is dangerous, given the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Japanese workers are scrambling to cool reactors at the tsunami-damaged plant to prevent radiation leakage.
The Quebec coalition – which includes the Parti Québécois, Québec Solidaire, scientists and environmentalists – met in Montreal to discuss their mutual goal of ending any further investment in the Gentilly-2 power plant.
The coalition's opposition to the power plant in Bécancour predates the Japan tsunami disaster, and is timed with a deadline for submissions to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
'It's not necessary to refurbish the plant at such an elevated price when Quebec has the means – through energy efficiency, renewable energy and its hydro electricity – to avoid nuclear.' —PQ Leader Pauline Marois
But the drama unfolding at Fukushima Daiichi is a stark reminder of what could happen in Quebec, said coalition spokesman Michel Duguay.
The risk of a tsunami hitting Quebec is "very low," he said.
But any other kind of accident, for example, a pipe break, he said, "could happen tomorrow" with dire consequences.
The CNSC is planning hearings on a $2-billion refurbishment project at Gentilly-2. The commission will also consider a proposal to build two nuclear reactors in Ontario.
Gentilly-2 currently delivers about three per cent of Quebec's overall need for power. Hydro-Québec announced in 2008 it is willing to spend $2 billion to ensure the facility's viability until 2040.
The Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire say there are greener options than nuclear energy.
The PQ said it would immediately close the plant if it were elected.
"It is raising many questions and concerns in terms of health and safety," PQ Leader Pauline Marois told reporters Monday.
"But the principal argument is that it's not necessary to refurbish the plant at such an elevated price when Quebec has the means – through energy efficiency, renewable energy and its hydro electricity – to avoid nuclear."