Residents stage anti-nuclear protest

SIMCOE REFORMER: Daniel Pearce - April 22, 2009

Opposition to a nuclear power plant proposed for Nanticoke came to the surface in the form of pickets outside the community centre here last night.

Four people stood outside the centre's doors holding signs reading "No nukes." They handed out literature and asked people to sign a petition while inside officials from Bruce Power met with the public as part of a series of open houses.

Carol O'Dwyer, who lives east of Port Dover "one field" from the proposed site, said the public mood is for "green power" alternatives and questioned the motives of Bruce Power, which is looking at building a nuclear reactor at Nanticoke.

"There's a lot of money to be made on nuclear power. That's what they're here for -- to make money," said O'Dwyer, who led the protest. "They don't care about this community."

O'Dwyer said there are a number of reasons to oppose the plant (which is a long way off from getting approval), citing the cost and the impact of living close to the site among other things.

"We're all going to be within the 30-kilometre zone, which is an evacuation zone. If there's a problem, you are evacuated. There's not an insurance company in the world that will insure you against it."

Bruce Power is trying to gauge local opinion on building the plant -- it has said it won't go ahead if the public is against it -- while going through the first step of getting approval from regulatory agencies: an environmental assessment.

With the coal-fired plant at Nanticoke slated to be closed in 2014, the nuke plant is being touted as a possible economic saviour for the area.

Officials say it would employ 1,000 people.

Some members of the public, however, are skeptical. A local group, Grand Erie Energy Quest, is opposed and O'Dwyer said her group has joined forces with it.

As people left the meeting, they talked with O'Dwyer's group. Some signed the petition.

"I really think this is too fast," said Ingrid Zyma-Irvin of Port Ryerse. "I think there is alternative energy available. I think this is premature.

"I'll be able to see this from my house," she added.

John Hopkins, who lives within a mile of the site, said support for the plant is coming from people living in outlying areas and suggested a plebiscite granting approval be taken but only of people living in the immediate Nanticoke area.

"If people in Simcoe and Dunnville are so in favour of it, ask them if they'd like to have it in their backyard," said Hopkins.

"A nuclear power plant doesn't bother me so much as that I bought in the country for peace and quiet. I don't want to listen to them build it."

Derek Burrage, who lives near Selkirk, said he is "skeptical" about the proposal not because of safety reasons but because of economics.

"I don't think we can afford it," he said. "The power station we have there now is incredibly efficient. I don't know why we would want to change it."

The environmental study is being carried out by a Mississauga firm.

Since November, it has studied the water quality of nearby streams and the lake, taken soil samples, and drilled 170 metres deep into the ground.

"We found competent rock all the way down," said Terry Winhold of Golder Associates Ltd.

This spring, archeologists will walk the site looking for evidence of early European and First Nations settlements.

The earliest construction would start is around 2011 and generation could start as early as 2018.

Article ID# 1506988

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