Darlington expansion years away

PORT HOPE, ONTARIO - Change would have to occur for Wesleyville to be considered for future energy production, an Ontario Power Generation (OPG) official told Port Hope council recently.

In response to a question by Coun. Karen O'Hara, Patrick McNeil said various events must occur and needs must increase significantly before the federal government would consider constructing a new site.

"Wesleyville is well known as a potential site, but the federal government is focused on existing sites," he said. "OPG is quite willing to entertain the Wesleyville site, if government policy changes."

The senior vice-president of nuclear generation development for OPG, Mr. McNeil was at the meeting to share plans for expanding the Darlington nuclear site, which includes up to four units capable with up to 4,800 megawatts of electrical capacity.

"We don't know the number of units or what size they will be," Mr. McNeil told council. In June 2006, the energy minister gave OPG the go-ahead to begin the federal approvals process, including the environmental assessment (EA), for siting potential new nuclear generation at Darlington.

The size and number would depend on future power needs, and is estimated for completion in 2018 to 2025.

Mr. McNeil said it seems a long way away, but the EA process alone could take up to five years. It includes studies of the impacts of the generating station on human health, safety and security, adjacent water, the economy, climate change and more, and all within a 60-kilometre radius.

The next stage, site preparation and construction, would employ between 2,000 and 2,500 people; it is estimated for completion no later than 2025. Between 700 and 1,000 full-time workers would be expected to be employed at a plant that is up and running.

Public consultation is part of the process and Mr. McNeil said a round of community information sessions are slated in various communities beginning November 7 and ending November 22. A session will be held at Port Hope's Town Park Recreation Centre on Monday, Nov. 12, from 3 to 9 p.m. with a presentation at 7 p.m.

"We are working very hard to be open and transparent," he said. "We want to involve the people and want their support as we move forward. And we go out of our way to give people that opportunity." As for the Wesleyville site, a recent notice for a rezoning request for proposed gun ranges there had one resident expressing concern.

"The fate of Wesleyville is in your hands," Port Hope resident Sandford Haskill told council. "If you allow the shooting range, you can say good-bye to Wesleyville."

The rezoning request for a portion of OPG land stems from a seven-year agreement between OPG and Durham Regional Police Services which ends in 2013. The company is now looking at its own employees to provide the security, with training on two proposed weapons firing ranges.



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