Experts to review nuclear proposal

Simcoe Reformer: ASHLEY HOUSE - May 10, 2009

A third party expert panel will review Bruce Power's environmental assessment of a nuclear power plant in Nanticoke.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission asked the federal Minister of Environment for a review panel, last week, to analyze Bruce Power's environmental assessment of constructing two nuclear reactors in Nanticoke that could provide 2,200 and 3,200 megawatts of electricity.

"This is the next step," said Steve Cannon, spokesperson for Bruce Power. "This is the highest level of review conducted. The review panel is entirely appropriate in a situation like this."

Not all of Bruce Power's projects go through a review panel, Cannon said, but when a new reactor hasn't been built in years, a review panel is to be expected.

In a statement issued last week, the safety commission said public and stakeholder concerns "warrant an early referral" to a review panel.

Bruce Power applied for a site licence last October. While the Ontario government does not endorse the project, both Haldimand and Norfolk county councils passed resolutions supporting the start of an environmental assessment. Bruce Power has taken these resolutions as an indicator the two counties are "willing host communities."

The panel, made up of third party nuclear experts, will allow the EA to be open to "full public scrutiny," Cannon said. "The panel ensures that there has been enough analysis done as possible."

The panel will hold hearings, allow public comment and make recommendations to the ministry.

Jim Elve, chair of Grand Erie Energy Quest, a group that opposes nuclear power in Nanticoke, expected last week's announcement a month ago.

"What's disconcerting is that in order to comment you have to appear in front of the panel in Ottawa," the Waterford area resident said. "It's very easy for a multi-billion dollar company to be able to send a representative. But it will be very difficult for a grassroots group to find the money to send a representative to Ottawa."

There may be some funding available for the public to comment but that information has not been forthcoming, Elve said.

Still, support for the small grassroots group continues to grow.

The petition asking for a moratorium on nuclear in Nanticoke is gaining momentum everyday with well over 1,000 signatures everyday.

"And that's not even canvassing," he said, adding the petition is available for downloading on their website. "Everyday I open my mail and see more petitions coming in."

Their No Nukes yellow lawn sign campaign has also gotten the word out.

The grassroots group feels there is a lot of misinformation swirling about nuclear power and not enough disclosure of what exactly will happen with the nuclear waste. They hope to hold public meetings in the future to heighten the community's awareness.

"We've been asked to speak to groups like the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise because they felt they were only getting one side of the story so that's encouraging," Elve said.

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