Protesters fighting proposed nuke plant bring petition to Alberta legislature

Simcoe Reformer/CP: Lisa Arrowsmith, - November 25, 2008

Residents fighting a proposed nuclear power plant in northern Alberta took their concerns to the legislature yesterday, demanding the province keep its promise to hold public hearings.

"Let's have consultations, let's have public consultations throughout Alberta where Albertans can come and present their views and their concerns," said Brenda Brochu of the Peace River Environmental Society.

Adele Boucher Rymhs of the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Alberta said there are environmental and health concerns that need to be addressed.

"Our concern is, when one plant is in and opens the door, how many more would come?" she said.

The groups, which brought a 2,500-name petition opposing nuclear power in Alberta, held a joint news conference with opposition NDP legislature member Rachel Notley.

Notley pushed Energy Minister Mel Knight on the issue during question period, asking why the government hasn't released a panel report on the issue this fall as promised.

"The Ontario government has handed billions of dollars over to the nuclear industry to subsidize this unviable, short-term energy source," Notley said, demanding to know whether Knight would do the same in Alberta.

He said the economics of nuclear power is one of the questions the panel will answer.

Knight scolded Notley when she asked whether the provincial government would drop the idea of nuclear power, which creates toxic waste, in favour of renewable alternatives, like wind power.

"The members opposite just clearly don't pay attention when we say anything about the energy industry in Alberta," said Knight.

He said Alberta has and will continue to work with "all options" to produce energy for the province.

Ontario-based Bruce Power is looking for approval to build a $10-billion four-reactor plant near Peace River to provide 4,000 megawatts to help power the province's multibillion-dollar oilsands industry and the public at large.

John Peevers, a spokesman for Bruce Power, said it's crucial for the company to know where Alberta stands on nuclear power.

But he said it's more important for the panel to take its time and do a thorough job than to produce the report quickly.

"Government support is key for this kind of thing. They would be a partner in this as much as the community is," Peevers said in an interview.

/ from the company headquarters in Tiverton, Ont.

"We're not going to push a technology on the province unless the people there are comfortable with it."

He said if the provincial government came out strongly against nuclear power, it could force Bruce Power to reconsider.

Bruce Power operates six Candu reactors at its electricity generating stations about 250 kilometres north of Toronto.

The company is also in talks with the Prince Albert Grand Council in Saskatchewan about a potential nuclear power plant there.

The company is a joint venture of Saskatoon-based uranium giant Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO), TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) of Calgary and other partners.

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