Nuclear jobs jackpot

HIGH-STAKES BATTLE: Ontario is to announce within days the chosen site of the province's next power reactor

London Free Press: JOHN MINER - June 9, 2008

The high-stakes battle for Ontario's next nuclear reactor -- and the thousands of jobs that'll come with it -- has come down to two communities, with an announcement expected within days.

The privately operated Bruce nuclear station, north of Kincardine, and Ontario Power Generation's Darlington plant, in Durham Region, are the two contenders for Ontario's first new reactor to be built in 15 years.

Groups in both centres are competing to convince the Ontario government the project would be welcomed with open arms by their area.

A spokesperson for Ontario Energy Minister Gerry Phillips said community support is one of the factors being weighed in the selection.

Others are the regulatory acceptability of the site and transmission capabilities.

Haldimand County, with OPG's giant Nanticoke coal-fired generating station, also has pushed to be considered for the new reactor, but appears to be out of contention under a government decision to look at only sites with existing reactors.

"Rather than saying, 'not in my backyard,' we are saying 'in my backyard,' " said Doug Mullaly, who co-chairs Citizens for Bruce C, the community group lobbying for the reactor in Bruce County.

The group has gathered more than 12,000 community signatures and the endorsement of civic councils supporting a new nuclear reactor.

"We aren't saying they shouldn't look at these other locations at all, that this county is the only location.

"We are just saying we should be the first new build because of the strong community support here and the history we have of nuclear in the area," Mullaly said.

"People are very comfortable with it here."

If the Bruce site is selected, Mullaly said the project would pump $484 million a year into the area economy during construction and $238 million a year when it's operating.

At present, work on refurbishing reactors at the Bruce station has brought 2,000 construction workers to the site.

"We'd like to keep those jobs here," said Mullaly.

In Durham, an alliance of 48 groups including energy companies and municipalities has been working since 2006 to convince the government to put the reactor at Darlington.

"The community has been very supportive," said Michael Angemeer of the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance. "There doesn't seem to be any opposition at all."

Besides community support, the Darlington site has an advantage of having a shorter distance than Bruce to transmit its power to market, Angemeer said.

Last week, Ontario announced three companies have been given a satisfactory rating to bid on building the new reactor -- AREVA NP, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and Westinghouse Electric Co.

The final selection is expected by year's end.

Slightly more than half of Ontario's electricity is supplied by nuclear reactors.

<< Back to Previous Page