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September 27, 2000
Medical Officer urges conversion of plants from coal; calls $250M OPG plan misguided
  
Toronto Public Health - Toronto's Board of Health reviewed a report at
its September meeting calling on the provincial government to immediately
introduce regulations to ensure the conversion of coal-fired plants to natural
gas.

The report, submitted by Dr. Sheela Basrur, Toronto's Medical Officer of
Health, describes the recent decision by Ontario Power Generation to spend $250
million to install pollution control devices on three of its coal-fired
generating stations as "misguided."

"The province needs to come clean on whether it is serious about conversion,"
said Dr. Basrur. "The OPG decision could jeopardize negotiations between Canada
and the United States for an international agreement to reduce transboundary
air pollution. The allowable nitrogen oxide emissions under the OPG plan will
be far greater than those established for U.S. coal plants," said Dr. Basrur.

The report notes that nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions from
coal-fired plants are major contributors to poor air quality in Southern
Ontario.

"The negative impacts on the health of the population caused by burning coal
are well-documented. Spending a quarter billion dollars for cleaner coal plants
is not the answer and may make it more difficult to implement a conversion plan
for these plants," said Dr. Basrur.

Recent reports by both Toronto Public Health and the Ontario Medical
Association have documented the negative health and economic impacts resulting
from premature deaths and hospitalization caused by air pollution. Both the
Board of Health and Toronto City Council have urged the province to adopt a
conversion plan for Ontario's coal-fired plants.


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