Thursday, July 2, 2009

Haldimand "Threat of Nuclear Plant is Hurting Local Economy"

Threat of Nuclear Plant is Hurting Local Economy
by Jim Elve of Waterford

On June 28, the Ontario government suspended plans to deploy two new nuclear reactors at Darlington. Even with a bottomless public purse, the costs were deemed too high.

On July 1, the largest energy company in the US, Exelon, dropped plans to build a two-reactor plant in Victoria, Texas. The costs were too high.

In April, another large American energy company, St. Louis-based AmerenUE suspended work on a reactor in Missouri. Costs were too high.

On July 2, New Brunswick revealed that the refurbishment project at the Point Lepreau nuclear station was eight months behind schedule and more than $100 million over budget.

On June 8, secret papers left at a CTV studio revealed that the refurbishment of reactors at Bruce Power’s Kincardine plant is over a year behind schedule and between $300 and $600 million over budget.

On June 11, Prime Minister Harper's chief spokesman, Kory Teneycke, said Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. is a "dysfunctional," $30-billion "sinkhole" that will not get any more federal funding.

As of July 1, Areva’s Olkiluoto nuclear energy project in Finland was 42 months behind schedule and 60% over budget.

The new generation of nuclear development is proving to be a lot like the previous generation: too costly to deserve either private or public investment. The much-touted “nuclear renaissance” is proving to be just so much hype from a highly polished and well-heeled sales force intent on lobbying for a dubious, if not absurd, new round of fruitless investment.

Here in Haldimand-Norfolk, we are being lured with the same empty hook. Bruce Power’s bid to build a two-reactor plant with private capital is every bit as financially ill-advised as the aforementioned projects. The pie-in-the-sky promise of 1000 high paid jobs is as believable as the promises that the new generation of reactors would be built on time and on budget.

About three weeks ago, Ontario Energy Minister George Smitherman reiterated in no uncertain terms that Ontario is not supporting Bruce’s Nanticoke proposal and that the province has no intention of purchasing any electricity that might be created at a possible Nanticoke nuclear plant. We simply do not need it. Ontario already has a surplus of baseload nuclear energy and on over 200 occasions in 2009, we’ve actually paid industrial customers to use it… after we paid the nuclear plants to produce it.

Last week, a Bruce Power spokesperson told Saskatchewan residents that a nuclear plant could not be built in their province without the support and stability offered by a firm provincial government commitment. Indeed, no nuclear project has ever been built without massive taxpayer support.

Despite the lack of financial backing and the strong probability that no plant will ever be built at Nanticoke, Bruce Power continues to press on with the Environmental Assessment it began last November. The nuclear Sword of Damocles continues to damage our local economy by scaring away potential new residents and driving away long time citizens.

Surveys taken by MPP Toby Barrett over a three year period indicate that 76% of H-N residents are opposed to a new nuclear plant. New residents echo the same sentiment over and over; if they’d been aware that a nuclear plant was being proposed 6 km from downtown Port Dover, they would have bought their retirement homes elsewhere. Instead of helping our local economy with future jobs, jobs, jobs, the threat of a nuclear plant is stifling growth and curtailing employment for our existing local tradesmen and businesses.

Both Bruce Power and Premier McGuinty have assured us that they will not pursue nuclear development in anything but a “willing host community”. We can permanently remove the growth-inhibiting threat of a nuclear plant by urging our municipality, through resolutions by Norfolk and Haldimand County Councils declaring that we are not a willing host.

Haldimand and Norfolk residents can contact their democratic representatives on county councils and tell them to remove this threat that is already damaging our local economy. The hollow promise of future jobs relies on nuclear investors being hoodwinked into investing here when they are dropping the nuclear hot potato everywhere else. If it won’t happen, let’s make it clear to real investors that were driving unprecedented growth in Port Dover before the spectre of a nuclear plant loomed on the horizon.


  1. If I understand Jim's last sentence properly, a good barometer might be to ask Alliance Homes (who are new to Port Dover) how their new promotional drive (radio, press and magazine) worked. In their sales pitch, do they mention, oh by-the-way, once you've purchased this wonderful bungalow on the beautiful Dover Coast, that in a few short years, you'll also have this lovely cement nuclear monolith to stare at and enjoy from your own back yard back yard.

  2. Nuke power may be clean in smoke-stack output (CO), but those pesky nuclear fuel rods, contaminated with deadly radiation for a million years, have to be stored somewhere, deep in the ground.

    Our saving grace is supposed to be alternate sources such as wind, river and waste converted to electricity systems.

    If governments really wanted to get people off the grid, give them free technology to do so, economic stimulus at it's best.

    What would a "carbon-zero" house look like?

    Could a 40 year old house (like mine) get close to that goal with today's technology?

    Ontario is in a recession and the government of the day is digging a hole your children will have a hard time climbing out of.

    And there is a company that markets self-contained "mini-nukes" that they can install in your back-yard, thereby any extra energy you put back in the grid makes you money to eventually pay for your system while your hydro bill becomes zero, you're off the grid as a drain and on as a producer.

    Thanks for a thought provoking good read Donna.

  3. Good comments. I suspect Alliance is downplaying or not mentioning the potential nuke plant in such close proximity to their development. Like many recent new residents, perhaps Alliance would not have been as keen to move into Dover had they been aware of the possibility of this deal-breaker.

    MAW, you're right, of course. It's not just the pesky deadly spent fuel that's unclean. The uranium mining tailing ponds are a big dirty problem, too. Lucky for us, we can ignore the problem since it is hundreds or thousands of KMs away on First nations territory in northern Saskatchewan and eastern Ontario. Out in the western US, the Navajo are finally starting to get some compensation for the cancers and other adverse health effects resulting from living with and working at uranium mines. I guess we can just apologize someday down the road and claim that we didn't know that uranium mining could cause cancer. Apologies seems to be all the rage in Ottawa these days.

    The "saving grace" is not only renewables. Much of the new capacity we need can be attained through efficiency. I'm not talking about "freeze in the dark" conservation but getting more bang for our energy buck. We've already seen how switching out our old incandescent light bulbs for CFBs can save up to 80% on energy use. The same can happen in many other areas.

    I'm not very optimistic about backyard nukes but rooftop solar and even rooftop wind have the ability to take quite a bit of the load off of the grid. Efficiency initiatives like energy-saving appliances, HVAC, better insulation, better doors and windows are all ways to take more load off the grid. Additionally, those energy efficiency efforts are things that can be supplied by our existing local trades and businesses... today, not ten years from now.

    The flat roofs of nearly every school in Ontario are perfect for solar panels. Even if those panels only supplied the energy for the school, they'd be taking a load off the grid. Schools mainly operate during daylight hours, too, making storage less of an issue.

    Conservation does play a role. How many times have we walked into a shopping mall on a hot day only to feel like we should have worn a sweater or jacket? Millions of cubic meters are routinely over cooled and over heated. Simply checking back on this obvious form of waste will help enormously.

    All of these little savings add up and free up the grid to supply industry with its energy needs. Have a look at the chart and accompanying material at:

    We can do without nuclear and do without coal. We just have to start questioning the big myths that nuclear is clean and necessary.

    Jim Elve

  4. Conservation! Solar film [now made in California, but WE COULD do it] on EVERY government, industrial, commercial, residential building in Canada, exchange of excess energy with Quebec etc. etc. etc.

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone.

    Jim I see that your letter was printed in a few papers, good for you!

    Jordan University