Security key issue for nuke station

Simcoe Reformer: Monte Sonnenberg - March 20, 2009

Safety, the management of radioactive materials and procedures in the event of an accident have emerged as top issues surrounding a proposed nuclear installation in Nanticoke.

The findings are contained in a recently-published document titled Round One Community Information Session Report. It was prepared by the consulting firm Golder Associates after public meetings in December and January in Port Dover, Jarvis, Simcoe, Cayuga and Dunnville.

The public meetings are part of a three-year, $30-million environmental assessment undertaken by Bruce Power of Tiverton. The utility has optioned 2,000 acres in the Nanticoke Industrial Park west of US Steel's Lake Erie Works.

The Golder report says 597 people attended the five sessions. Of these, 281 filled out feedback sheets. By a margin of 90 per cent, respondents identified the following three questions as "very important."

- "How safe would a nuclear power plant be for workers and the community?"

- "How will used fuel and radioactive waste be managed?"

- "What happens if there is an accident?"

The survey will be used to refine the focus of the second round of pubic meetings, which will be held in Dunnville, Cayuga, Port Dover, Jarvis, and Simcoe between March 30 and April 4.

"The format will be similar, but the content will be based on what we've heard so far," said Peter Brown of Golder Associates. "Now we're drilling down deeper into elements of the environment that are important to people. We are changing the format. There will be new content. That will be partly based on the information we've heard so far."

Safety and security issues discussed in the first round included the potential for terrorist attacks. Nuclear generators have been considered targets since the 9/11 terrorist attacks eight years ago in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Bruce Power takes the occasion of these meetings to boast of its readiness in the face of all threats.

"Following the events of 9/11, security was stepped up around all critical infrastructure," Bruce spokesman James Scognack said last week. "You could say we led the industry in this focus on safety."

Scognack would not divulge the size of the armed security force. However, in an e-mail, he said "We are equivalent in size to a large municipal police department -- that is, (like) Kingston. We have also stated that we have an armed 'nuclear response team' which is equivalent to a SWAT team on 24/7/365 which only the very large police departments -- that is, Metro Toronto -- have."

Scognack added that Bruce Power keeps 114 firefighters and paramedics on staff.

The Golder document says a similar safety and security team would be stationed in Nanticoke if Bruce Power moves ahead with construction. The tactical unit in Nanticoke would have marine capabilities, given the plant's proposed location on the shores of Lake Erie.

"It would be fully trained to deal with an unexpected armed assault and be led by experienced, former senior-level police and military officers," the report says.

The Golder report adds that new design standards adopted in the wake of 9/11 minimize the possibility of airborne attacks dispersing radioactive materials at installations such as the one proposed for Nanticoke.

Bruce Power will hold four rounds of public meetings. The Round 2 summary will be published before the end of April. The Round 1 summary is available at Hard copies are also available at public libraries in Norfolk and Haldimand.

Article ID# 1487507

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