Nukes in Nanticoke?

SIMCOE REFORMER: Monte Sonnenberg - September 22, 2008

Reports are circulating in Norfolk, Haldimand and beyond that the Nanticoke Industrial Park is being eyed as the potential site of a nuclear reactor.

There has been speculation to this effect since the McGuinty government announced five years ago that it intended to close the coal-fired Nanticoke Generating Station. The Ministry of Energy has thrown cold water on the idea, saying new nuclear capacity in Ontario will be built at the site of existing nuclear installations. That means the only locations in play would be Tiverton, site of the Bruce Power generating facility, Darlington and Pickering.

However, at a meeting last week of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, Local 67 (UA67) in Hamilton, a business agent told union members to expect an announcement in two weeks that Nanticoke is under consideration for two reactors.

UA67 business manager Bob Bolan confirmed the report Friday, saying the meeting occurred Sept. 16. Bolan said business agents scour the continent for word of large industrial projects that might require the services of UA members.

"I have no confirmation of this," Bolan said. "But there are rumours on the street."

The reports have been so pervasive that Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer called Bruce Power last week to see if something was in the works.

Bruce Power CEO and president Duncan Hawthorne has visited Haldimand and Norfolk several times in recent years to tout the virtues of nuclear power. He has said that Nanticoke would be a good location for a reactor due to its proximity to the lake, its access to one of Ontario's most important transmission corridors and the fact that the electrical grid in southern Ontario needs a generating facility in this location to balance the load throughout the system.

Hawthorne did not return a phone call last week. However, Trainer did speak with James Scognack, Hawthorne's executive assistant.

"It's very delicate at this time, I am told," Trainer said. "I've been hearing this too. This is why I called them."

If an announcement happens, it would likely refer to the optioning of a large parcel of land and the commissioning of an environmental assessment. It takes about 10 years to get a reactor off the drawing board and onto the grid.

In Trainer's conversation with Scognack, he would not say one way or another what was in store for Nanticoke. In an interview yesterday, Scognack maintained the same tack.

"We haven't made any decisions as to whether there is a business development opportunity there," he said. "We're not ruling anything in or out on this."

Scognack added that Bruce Power has had no direct talks with UA67 or its representatives about Nanticoke's development potential.

"There's no question there is a tremendous amount of excitement about the possibility," Scognack said, referring to the fact that both Norfolk council and Haldimand council have endorsed the concept of nuclear reactors in the Nanticoke Industrial Park.

Article ID# 1211211

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