Monday, November 19, 2007


I doubt that you know anyone who lives in northern Alberta. I mean, how many people are up there.

Well, however many there may be it turns out that a bunch of them are not interested in a proposed nuclear power plant in their neck of the woods.

Energy Alberta Corporation has chosen Peace River as the site for the plant.

Northern Albertans caravaned to the provincial legislature today to express their distaste for a nuclear neighborhood.

Trudi Keillor’s house in the Peace River Country is on an unassuming spit of land, vacant save for wildlife, water and weeds. The fact that its status might someday change scares the hell out of her.

“We do not want this. We don’t want it for the rest of Alberta or for Canada,” Keillor said, as she joined other Peace Country residents outside the legislature today, protesting a company’s plan to build a nuclear power plant. “I live six miles west of the proposed site. And this is all happening behind the scenes. Nothing is being done to keep residents informed.”

“It was all done hush-hush, and people were very upset when they found out. And a lot of the municipal councillors did not get voted back in that were involved in that. The people have not been consulted. Keller told the Sun.”

The Edmonton Sun reports Energy Alberta Corporation (EAC), which is owned by Calgary liquor magnate Wayne Henuset, has the only license from the Atomic Energy Company of Canada to built a reactor in Alberta. It sees 10 to 15 years of hearings, license applications and approvals before that can happen.

But the process is already moving too quickly for residents to keep up, said Keillor, and given that the company has met numerous times with government to push the deal already, they’re not taking EAC’s word on the issue.

The presence of drilling rigs on property designated for Alberta's first nuclear power plant has not helped quell residents fears that events are moving faster then expected. Amongst those who was outraged when the drilling rigs appeared was John Plett.

Plett, who lives in the county where the plant is proposed to be built, told the Edmonton Journal Albertans should first be allowed to vote on whether or not nuclear power can establish itself in the province.

While some polls have shown a thin majority of Albertans favor the building of the plant, they also show support is higherst the farther away from the site you get. People living in the small towns around the site are the least enamored with the idea. Further, the overall results showed the storage of nuclear waste was a huge concern with nearly nine in 10 Albertans, while the possibility of an accident was a worry with seven in 10 Albertans, the poll found.

Aboriginal leaders in Alberta also have told the company that plans to build the nuclear power plant that they don't like the idea either.

One such leader, Driftpile First Nation Chief Rose Laboucan says she totally rejects the idea of a nuclear plant. Laboucan says she has lived next door to toxic waste before, a reference to the province's waste treatment facility at Swan Hills.

Mark Winfield of the Pembina Institute warned about the dangers the plant presents to the area. "There are all sorts of different ways in which material can leave the plant under both normal operating conditions, accident conditions or the possibility of a security incident."

The plant has its supporters.

Energy Alberta Corporation recently flew Whitecourt Mayor Trevor Thain and a number of councillors from the area to the East Coast to tour a reactor. The trip seems to win over the mayor who now says he is feeling comfortable about the possibility of a nuclear reactor in his backyard.

The proposed site by the way is near the border with British Columbia (B.C.) and the province's New Democratic Party (NDP) leader says B.C. should say loud and clear that the province is opposed to a proposed nuclear power plant in the Peace River.

Carole James says she was surprised and shocked at news that the Alberta government may proceed with a $6.2 billion nuclear plant near northeastern B.C.

She says B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell must voice British Columbia‘s opposition to nuclear energy.

James notes there has been no consultation with people in B.C., despite the proposed project‘s close proximity to the provincial border.

James says the issue is one of basic safety and one people in B.C. have been clear about over and over again.

James says until B.C. residents are consulted, nothing should happen with the nuclear proposal.

NDP environment critic Dave Eggen pointed out the project was originally slated to be built further south, near Whitecourt.

"I found it interesting that once the people of Whitecourt started to learn a little bit about the scope of the plan and asked for more time and information, this company packed up and went to another place," he said.

Apparently not everyone in town were as "comfortable" as the mayor, eh?

The following is from CBC News.

Nuclear protest convoy dumps on Alberta reactor

A group of protesters drove almost 500 kilometres from northern Alberta to deposit fake leaky barrels of radioactive waste on the steps of the legislature in a demonstration Monday against a proposal for the province's first nuclear power plant.

However, the eye-catching convoy ran into a roadblock at the legislature's security gates when guards refused to let the fake barrels through. Despite the setback and the morning chill, about 150 people stayed for a rally, with many holding large protest signs.

The demonstrators, arriving in Edmonton from northern communities including Peace River, Valleyview and Slave Lake, oppose plans for a nuclear reactor to be built on private land near Lac Cardinal, about 30 kilometres from Peace River.

Calgary-based Energy Alberta Corp. embarked on the long licensing process in August. Pending approvals, the $6-billion project is slated to produce 2,200 megawatts of electricity when it opens in 2017.

Organizers of Monday's rally said they want to raise awareness about the dirty and dangerous impact of nuclear energy and to ask Premier Ed Stelmach to keep Alberta nuclear-free.

The group will present an anti-nuclear petition signed by 1,300 people in northern Alberta to the energy and environment ministers as well as the MLA for the Peace River region.

We have over 1,300 signatures, which is quite significant considering this is a sparsely populated, rural area and a lot of the signatures are concentrated in the 20or 30 kilometres right around the proposed site," said Brenda Brochu of the Peace River Environmental Society.

"So we hope this will cause the politicians to sit up and take notice and to start consulting with Albertans on energy policy instead of just rubber-stamping every economic development project that comes along."

Brochu says the proposed site is on a fault line that has a history of earthquakes, and she hopes the provincial government rejects the request to build the plant.

Trudi Keillor, who lives in Grimshaw, the town closest to the proposed reactor, is uneasy with an option for the plant to use reprocessed fuel from other countries.

"So do we really want that? We become the nuclear dumping ground for other countries," Keillor told CBC News.

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