Wednesday, March 28, 2007

To the editor:

I am writing in response to a proposed nuclear generating plant being located in Nanticoke. Several years ago, my wife and I decided to build a recreational property just outside of Dunnville, near the shore of Lake Erie. We could have chosen to live anywhere in Canada, but we chose Haldimand County - drawn to the area by family ties, beautiful scenery, friendly people and a strong sense of community. From the beach near our cottage, we can see the smokestacks of the Nanticoke power plant to the west of us. We definitely see why this plant is considered one of the most polluting plants in North America, both by the exhaust coming out its stacks, as well as the health effects on my in-laws who live next door to us.

While we are both strong supporters of lowering pollution and carbon emissions, we feel the current pro-nuclear stance of Haldimand Council is misguided. nuclear power is by no means environmentally friendly, and in fact uses a tremendous amount of energy during the uranium enrichment process. Not to mention the very serious issue of handling nuclear waste and the potential for accidents, which could irreparably damage the agricultural landscape around us. Given the unprecedented interest in alternative energy solutions, we feel Haldimand County is uniquely positioned to be a world leader in green energy. For example:

Haldimand & Norfolk County have a rich history in agriculture. Who is better suited to help develop and refine crops for Biofuels than farmers with generations of knowledge?

Haldimand and Norfolk counties have an abundance of wide open, flat terrain, making it very suitable for Solar Power farms.

Lake Erie's shallow depth and prevailing winds makes it an ideal location for the latest in offshore Wind farms

Technologies exist which could be retrofitted to the existing Nanticoke coal plant to dramatically lower it's CO2 and particle emissions.

Programs to encourage energy efficiency and self generation among home owners could really showcase the potential for co-generation along the grid.

On Feb. 13, MP Diane Finley posted a press release on her web page announcing the interest in a Nanticoke nuclear plant. In the press release, Ms. Finley stated: "The economic impact locally of a nuclear facility could mean 1,200 full time jobs and a $2 billion investment. These would be good, well-paying jobs with significant spin- off benefits to local businesses. This investment would help our kids stay and raise their own families here." Perhaps instead of spending $2 billion on a single employer whose workforce could be deeply affected by any interruption in service or change in political direction, the money would be better invested in incentives and grants to startups specializing in alternative energy production. Why not attract dozens or even hundreds of new business ventures to the county, thereby allowing for real career choice and ongoing economic benefit. My wife and I plan to raise our kids in Haldimand County. Do I want a future where their career opportunities are focused on a single employer or where they have a real choice - either in agriculture, high- tech or environmental stewardship? What do you want for your children? The hard reality is the world is running out of its traditional oil and gas resources. Those countries that support and encourage new power technologies will be the Saudi Arabia/Alberta of the future. I hope the leaders of Haldimand and Norfolk would consider this an opportunity to position us as just such a world leader.

Sean Barry, Dunnville