By Jim Elve
The biggest hurdle facing Bruce Power's bid to build a nuclear power plant in Nanticoke is to obtain the consent of the community. Yet, this is not what you'll hear if you ask most of our local councillors. Back in 2007 when the idea of a nuclear plant seemed far-fetched to those few Haldimand and Norfolk residents who were aware of such rumblings, both Haldimand and Norfolk County councils passed unanimous resolutions endorsing an Enviroinmental Assessment (EA) for a nuclear plant in Nanticoke.
Despite the fact that 97% of EAs result in an approval, Norfolk's mayor and some of Norfolk's councillors feel they've absolved themselves of responsibility by endorsing the assessment. Most are adamant that their endorsement of an EA did not indicate that they were endorsing the construction of a plant or that they were indicating that Norfolk is a willing host. Yet, Bruce Power has been portraying the endorsements for an EA as indications that they'd jumped their biggest hurdle. Here's how they categorize those resolutions:
Both Haldimand County and Norfolk County have indicated they were willing host communities through resolutions to the Minister of Energy favouring proceeding with an environmental assessment at this time.There's nothing open to interpretation in that statement. Bruce is stating that the endorsements of the EA indicate willing host communities. It's plain English.
(Pages 27 and 28, http://www.brucepower.com/uc/GetDocument.aspx?docid=2817 )
Yet, when the issue of this blatant misrepresentation of Norfolk council's resolution was brought up at a council meeting, Deputy Mayor Jim Oliver stated that he is "not offended by any information that's been published." Furthermore, he said "I don't interpret the material as implying we are willing hosts."
They're not implying it. They're stating it outright. How can the statement be open to interpretation? It's very clear and nobody needs read anything into it that isn't there in black and white.
Yet, when contacted by the Simcoe Reformer for a comment on the matter, Bruce Power spokesman Steve Cannon said, "I think they're reading into it a bit too much."
No. Anyone with a grasp of simple English can understand exactly what the statement says.
Why is the "willing host community" label so important? It's simple. Nearly all EAs result in a recommendation for the projects to be approved. The EA process may cost $30 million but it will not stand in the way of getting the plant built. Indeed, spending $30 million ensures that all environmental obstacles addressed by the EA will be surmounted.
One thing that can stop the juggernaut is an unwilling host community. That is why it was so important for Bruce Power to declare victory before the battle had even begun.
In talking with local residents, gathering some of the 1400+ signatures on the "Not so fast" petition and making presentations to local groups, I've found myself in agreement with MPP Toby Barrett. Barrett has surveyed both Haldimand and Norfolk counties three times over the past three years and his surveys indicate that 76% of residents are opposed to a nuclear plant in Nanticoke. That sure doesn't sound like a willing host community to me.