The new Quebec government's decision not to refurbish the province's only nuclear power plant — which will force it to shut down by the end of the year — has workers peeved and the leader of the Opposition crying foul.

Hydro-Québec employees were expecting the Gentilly-2 reactor to be closed because it was a plank of the PQ's recent election platform, said their union's vice-president, Ginette Paul. But they didn't think it would happen so fast.

The Parti Québécois announced on Sept. 11 that it would shut down the nuclear plant, located in the Mauricie region across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières. That was a week after it unseated the Liberals in the provincial election, and still eight days before party leader Pauline Marois and her cabinet were sworn in as ministers.

"During the election campaign, Ms. Marois promised a consultation with the unions and the region's economic entities before making a decision," said Paul, of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Interim opposition leader Jean-Marc Fournier said the move to scrub the reactor without first having some kind of dialogue with local authorities shows the PQ's dogmatism.

"You have to be able to meet people and enter into dialogue with them. It's not just 'my way or the highway' in Quebec. There's people in Trois-Rivières, in the Mauricie, who expect respect from the government

François Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec party, concurred, saying Marois has shown a tendency to make decisions without first examining things in depth.

Risk of cost overruns

The former Liberal provincial government decided in 2008 to rebuild Gentilly-2 at a projected cost of about $2 billion, but stopped work after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

The reactor has been in commercial operation since 1983, and its operating licence runs out at the end of the year. Refurbishing it would extend that by up to 30 years.

But the costs could be much steeper. Only two other Candu-6 nuclear reactors have ever been refurbished. The first, New Brunswick's Point Lepreau generating station, was supposed to take 18 months but suffered three years of delays and more than $1 billion in cost overruns, and still isn't back online.

There are also concerns about the health effects of the Quebec reactor. The recently premiered film Gentilly Or Not To Be cites data from the Mauricie and Central Quebec public-health authority showing an increase in tumours in people under age 20 living in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, a Trois-Rivières community 13 kilometres upriver from the nuclear plant.

Still, Michel Bibeault, the union's Quebec director and a former Hydro-Québec employee, said that financial considerations aside, it would be safer to keep the plant running than to shutter it.

"Every day our members take care of security for 15,000 spent uranium fuel rods," Bibeault said. "What's going to happen if we close the reactor? Are you going to put three or four Pinkerton agents and a chain-link fence?"

The union says Quebec doesn't have the technology to safely shut down Gentilly-2. It would first have to develop expertise and spend time planning how to decommission the reactor.

But Yves-François Blanchet, Quebec's minister for the Mauricie, said the government has made up its mind and the region needs to look to the future and work toward economic diversification.

The vast majority of Quebec's electricity, nearly 95 per cent, comes from hydro power. Gentilly-2 has an output of 635 megawatts — about 1.5 per cent of Quebec's total capacity — and generates around three per cent of the province's electricity.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Members of the media, wearing protective suits and masks, visit the Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactor buildings of tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station of Tokyo Electric Power Co., during a press tour escorted by TEPCO officials, in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Kimimasa Mayama, Pool)

  • A radiation monitor indicates 131.00 mSv per hour near Unit 3 and 4 reactor buildings at Tokyo Electric Power Co.,'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • A journalist checks radiation level with her dosimeter near stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., during a press tour led by TEPCO officials, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • Damage of tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station building is seen through a bus window during a press tour led by officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Kimimasa Mayama, Pool)

  • A journalist visits stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., during a press tour led by TEPCO officials, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • Stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant buildings of Tokyo Electric Power Co., are seen in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • Trucks are overturned before the Unit 4 reactor building of stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co workers stand near stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant buildings during a press tour in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • Damaged Unit 3, left, and Unit 4, right, reactor buildings are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co.,'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Kimimasa Mayama, Pool)

  • Takeshi Takahashi, center, head of Tokyo Electric Power Co.,'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, speaks to journalists at the emergency operation center of the crippled nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • A worker takes a rest at the emergency operation center of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)

  • Debris is seen scattered near the Unit 6 reactor building of stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP)


Loading Slideshow...
  • A disabled man cries at the Chernobyl victims memorial in Kiev during a memorial ceremony on April 26, 2012. Ukraine launched construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. President Viktor Yanukovych pressed a symbolic button at the construction site, watched by workers and ambassadors from China, Japan and a number of other countries that contributed to the massive project, expected to cost 1.5 billion euros. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages)

  • General view of the construction site of a first element of protective containment structure in front of the shelter over the destroyed fourth block of the Chernobyl Power Plant on April 26, 2012. Ukraine launched construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. President Viktor Yanukovych pressed a symbolic button at the construction site, watched by workers and ambassadors from China, Japan and a number of other countries that contributed to the massive project, expected to cost 1.5 billion euros. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A young boy stands in front of Chernobyl victims memorial in Kiev during a memorial ceremony on April 26, 2012. Ukraine launched today construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Victims of Chernobyl nuclear accident's widows hold pictures of their late husbands during a memorial ceremony at the Chernobyl victims memorial in Kiev on April 26, 2012. Ukraine launched today construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych presses symbolic button in front of the shelter in front of the shelter over the destroyed fourth block of the Chernobyl Power Plant on April 26, 2012. Ukraine launched construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. President Viktor Yanukovych pressed a symbolic button at the construction site, watched by workers and ambassadors from China, Japan and a number of other countries that contributed to the massive project, expected to cost 1.5 billion euros. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Workers of Chernobyl nuclear power plant hold candles as they stand in front of the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 30 miles from the accident site, where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony early on April 26, 2012.

  • A general view of the sarcophagus over destroyed 4th block of Chernobyl power plant on February 24, 2011 ahead of the 25th anniversary of the meltdown of reactor number four due to be marked on April 26, 2011.

  • A worker of Chernobyl nuclear power plant holds a candle at the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 50 kilometres from the accident site, where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony early on April 26, 2012

  • A woman lays flowers at the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 30 miles from the accident site, and where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony early on April 26, 2012.

  • A woman cries as she looks at portraits at the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 30 miles from the accident site, and where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony early on April 26, 2012.

  • A picture taken on April 26, 2012 shows portraits at a monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 30 miles from the accident site, and where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony.

  • A man lights a candle at the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 30 miles from the accident site, and where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony early on April 26, 2012.

  • People light candles and lay flowers at the monument to Chernobyl victims in Slavutich, some 30 miles from the accident site, and where many of the power station's personnel used to live, during a memorial ceremony early on April 26, 2012.

  • Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych addresses media during a visit to exploded Chernobyl power station on April 20, 2011, few days ahead of the 25th anniversary of the 1986 nuclear explosion on April 26. International leaders pledged hundreds of millions of dollars at a conference in Kiev the day before to complete a permanent shelter to secure the ruins the station.

  • Employees of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant walk in front of the destroyed 4th block of the plant on February 24, 2011 ahead of the 25th anniversary of the meltdown of reactor number four due to be marked on April 26, 2011.

  • An employee of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant points out devices in the control room of the destroyed 4th block of the plant on February 24, 2011 ahead of the 25th anniversary of the meltdown of reactor number four due to be marked on April 26, 2011.

  • A memorial stands outside the Devasted Nuclear plant of Chernobyl on February 24, 2011 ahead of the 25th anniversary of the meltdown of reactor number four due to be marked on April 26, 2011.

  • A picture of a dog and cello are left in the ghost city of Prypyat, near Chernobyl nuclear power plant on February 24, 2011 ahead of the 25th anniversary of the meltdown of reactor number four due to be marked on April 26, 2011.

  • Flowers are placed on a sculpture dedica

    Flowers are placed on a sculpture dedicated to the memory of the men who liquidated the stricken reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Kiev during a memorial ceremony on April 26, 2012. Ukraine launched construction of a new shelter to permanently secure the stricken Chernobyl plant as it marked the 26th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear disaster. President Viktor Yanukovych pressed a symbolic button at the construction site, watched by workers and ambassadors from China, Japan and a number of other countries that contributed to the massive project, expected to cost 1.5 billion euros. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages)