Nanticoke no longer an option for reactors


Bruce Power has scrapped its application to build new nuclear reactors in Nanticoke.

The power giant said declining Ontario demand for power has prompted the move.

Instead, the company said in a statement yesterday, Bruce Power will focus on the refurbishment of its remaining Bruce A and B units rather than building new reactors at its current Bruce County site or elsewhere.

The company has notified the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency that it will withdraw its site licence applications and suspend its environmental assessments in Bruce County and Nanticoke.

Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer, who was informed of the decision in a conference call between Bruce Power and members of Haldimand and Norfolk councils Wednesday night, said the decision is "unfortunate."

The project would have meant many jobs and tax dollars flowing into Haldimand and was supported by the councils of both counties and Conservative MP Diane Finley.

Now Haldimand County hopes Ontario Power Generation will upgrade or retrofit its Nanticoke generating facility to use natural gas instead of coal and keep the power jobs in the county, Trainer said. Nanticoke is set to close in 2014.

Trainer said Bruce Power cited diminished power demand in Ontario as the driving reason for its decision.

The company announced last year it would put $30 million into a three-year environmental assessment to study the feasibility of putting two reactors in a vacant field west of the U.S. Steel plant near the Haldimand-Norfolk boundary.

"These are business decisions unique to Ontario and reflect the current realities of the market," Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"Our focus has always been to find the best way to provide Ontario with a long-term supply of 6,300 megawatts. For more than five years, we've examined our options and refurbishing our existing units has emerged as the most economical."

These decisions have no impact on the current process to introduce nuclear energy to Alberta and Saskatchewan, where both provincial governments are expected to release policy statements regarding nuclear's role later this year.

The Bruce Power move comes just weeks after the Ontario government announced an unspecified delay in its own plans to build two new reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.

Not everyone in Haldimand and Norfolk was in favour of a nuclear power plant. A community group called Grand Erie Energy Quest formed last year to oppose it. Spokesperson Jim Elve said last night his group was "elated."

"We're very relieved and we think this is best for the community," said Elve, who runs a web development business in Waterford.

He said Grand Erie had about 100 members, with the largest number around Port Dover. It will push to see if a wind turbine manufacturing plant can be built in Nanticoke.