Nanticoke eyed as site for nuclear plant

NANTICOKE, ONTARIO - Nuclear power-plant operator Bruce Power signaled to Queen's Park and the federal regulator that it intends to build a new nuclear plant in the small community of Nanticoke, next to the massive coal-fired generating station that's slated for shutdown in 2014, the Star has learned.

Duncan Hawthorne, president and chief executive officer of Bruce Power, made the announcement at an event near Nanticoke, along the north shore of Lake Erie, that his company is seeking a site preparation licence from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The application would start an approvals process likely to take five years before construction can begin. "I can't provide you with any details at this time," said company spokesperson Steve Cannon.

There's no guarantee such a plant will get built. The Ministry of Energy recently selected Darlington as the site of the province's newest nuclear plant in 20 years, to be operated by Ontario Power Generation.

Bruce Power lost its bid to construct and operate that first plant next to its existing facilities near Kincardine. Sources say Hawthorne is betting that the province will need more reactors.

Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman could not be reached for comment.

Industry experts say Nanticoke is considered an ideal site for a nuclear plant because of its location, lakeside access and ample access to high-voltage transmission lines.

The community is also used to having a power plant in its backyard and is worried about the loss of 600 jobs after the coal plant is shut down – though there would likely be a five-year gap between the shutdown of the coal plant and the first operation of a nuclear plant.

Hawthorne has spent two years courting the small communities in the region. In February, Norfolk and Haldimand counties sent letters to Premier Dalton McGuinty asking for the go-ahead to file for a site application, which triggers an environmental assessment.

Some area residents are cool to the idea of a nuclear plant. "Just because our mayor think it's a good idea doesn't mean the community members do as well," Victoria Smith, 24, told the Star. "I can assure you that's not the case."


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