Ontario company's green ads promote nuclear power in Alberta

Environmental groups think 'that it's extremely misleading'

CBC News: March 16, 2009

Ontario-based Bruce Power has erected billboards in four Alberta communities positioning itself as a provider of green energy, as it prepares to launch its latest proposal for a nuclear power plant in the northern part of Alberta.

"Exploring opportunities for growth in Alberta," the billboards read. "Next generation nuclear. Hydrogen. Wind. Solar."

The billboards are up in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie, and one will soon be in Peace River, the closest town to the proposed location.

"The intent is really twofold," said Albert Cooper from Bruce Power Alberta. "One is to introduce Albertans to our company, and the second is to indicate what we're interested in, which is the emission-free power production."

The billboard campaign comes as the company prepares to hold open houses next week in Peace River, Manning, Fairview and Grimshaw, to give people a look at a brand new location for the plant.

In early January, the company withdrew its proposal for a plant on the shores of Lac Cardinal, about 30 kilometres west of Peace River, partly over public concerns about the site's proximity to the freshwater aquifer that supplies the region with drinking water.

The company shifted its focus to a site 30 kilometres north of the town, on the banks of the Peace River, but the preferred location won't be revealed until a report on the proposal is released next week, Cooper said.

Green or not?

Environmental groups believe the company is adding more favourable energy sources like solar, wind and hydrogen to make the nuclear proposal more accceptable.

"We think that it's extremely misleading," said Brenda Brochu, president of the Peace River Environmental Society. "They're trying to portray themselves as green when, in fact, they really aren't and we'll be stuck with radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years."

However, Cooper said the company has planned to build wind, solar and hydrogen generation as part of its proposal for the Peace Region for some time.

In Ontario, Bruce Power has a wind farm as well as nuclear reactors, Cooper said, and the company is looking at a simliar setup in Alberta.

"We believe very strongly that Alberta, Canada and in fact the world needs all forms of energy in order to meet the needs of the future" he said.

Many people in Alberta aren't familiar with nuclear energy, so there are a lot of questions out there, Cooper said. But he thinks people will support the technology once they learn more about it.

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