No Nukes group should be heard

Simcoe Reformer: Daniel Pearce - May 12, 2009

Tiny step by tiny step, the battle over whether or not Haldimand and Norfolk counties will host a nuclear power plant is ratcheting up.

A citizens group opposed to plans by Bruce Power to build two reactors at Nanticoke say they are getting more and more requests for their yellow "No Nuke" signs while their petition is garnering at least 1,000 signatures a day.

As well, Grand Erie Energy Quest says local organizations are calling them asking for speakers as the public seeks to get both sides of the story.

Bruce Power has been lobbying residents in both counties to be open to the idea of a nuke plant for some time. The company has treaded carefully, saying they won't locate here unless the public backs them. Each step it takes, it has cautioned, is just a step; don't be alarmed -- it doesn't mean the plant is going ahead.

The reality of the situation remains that Bruce Power has applied for a site licence and has undertook an environmental assessment: a close examination of how the plant would affect the land, water, air and wildlife in the area. The reactors may or may not ever go ahead, but they are definitely on the road to getting approval.

The environmental study, it was reported this week, will go in front of a third-party panel of experts for review.

With its ear to the ground, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said it ordered the panel hearing to ease public concerns.

So the energy quest people will get their day in court. The catch is that while the panel will be open to the public, it will sit in Ottawa. To comment, you have to travel to the nation's capital and appear in front of them.

"It's very easy for a multi-billion dollar company to be able to send a representative. But it will be very difficult for a grassroots group to find the money to send a representative to Ottawa," noted energy quest chair Jim Elve.

Elve's group is concerned the public is not being told the truth about nuclear power, particularly with regards to disposal of the waste it produces.

Many a sober engineer and scientist have lined up behind nuclear power, insisting it has been proven clean and safe, and -- crucially -- emits no greenhouse gases. Opponents to nuclear energy, meanwhile, are often accused of succumbing to irrational fears of the unknown.

Residents in Norfolk County in particular are known for digging in their heels and opposing change. This tag is misleading, however. We dig in when we feel we're hearing echoes of hucksterism and are being sold a bill of goods.

There is no harm, and every good reason, for being skeptical about Bruce Power's plans at Nanticoke. Let the company prove its case down to the last detail.

What's important now is for Elve and his group to get to Ottawa, whether it's paid through government funding or through donations from citizens who share their concerns, and appear before the panel.

It is of the utmost importance that energy quest gets to ask their questions and make their points. Whether or not we get a nuke plant, let us at least be satisfied that due process was followed.

Article ID# 1563869

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