Nuclear reaction

Simcoe Reformer: BARBARA SIMPSON - November3, 2008

November is the month of remembrance. A sliver of time to reflect on Canadian soldiers' past and current sacrifices to maintain all our freedoms. It's one of these freedoms -- the right to express and debate openly -- that will be put to the test this November with the announcement of a local nuclear power plant in the works.

On Friday, Bruce Power announced it would launch an environmental assessment in order to develop a nuclear power plant at the Lake Erie Industrial Park in Nanticoke. Although it is a recent announcement, there has been speculation swirling for a while about nuclear power in Nanticoke. In fact, MPP Toby Barrett acknowledged at the Friday announcement that he's been fielding calls from people -- mostly opposing -- the nuclear plant for two years now.

This shotgun reaction has come to be expected. When either a public or private organization brings forth a plan for development, the NIMBYs -- fist-shaking not-in-my-backyard activists -- are already armed with placards waiting in the wings. While Canadian veterans fought for our right to debate freely, this right also comes with a responsibility to be open-minded.

A nuclear plant in our region could generate an economic windfall. The construction of the plant could inject $550 million annually, while the operation of it could add $152 million annually into our regional economy, according to Trent University research. The nuclear plant -- tentatively set to start operating in 2018 -- could also bring 1,000 jobs to the region. This is promising news for both a suffering local economy and a job-starved workforce.

But while there are numerous economic benefits to a Nanticoke nuclear plant, these have to be balanced by both the environmental and health impacts. For example, there is justifiable concern over the practice of burying radioactive waste and used fuel in deep cement culvers in Bruce County. If there's a crack in the cement, a retired refinery worker pointed out, the waste could seep into our groundwater system. This concern -- in addition to countless others -- are valid.

However, the solution isn't to simply banish the thought of a local nuclear plant. The construction and operation of such a plant should be explored with both sides participating in a healthy dialogue.

But in order to have a constructive debate, both sides need to come to the table open-minded. We'll be the first to admit that this isn't as simple as it sounds. When we've made up our minds on a matter, it's difficult for most people to hear contradictory information -- and further -- to admit they might have been wrong.

Still, it's crucial that both parties act fairly in order to do what's in the best interest of both Haldimand and Norfolk counties. It's the least that our vets -- who laid their lives on the line for our freedom -- can expect during the month of November.

Article ID# 1278184

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