Thursday, November 27, 2008

Public barred from Bruce Power news conference in Saskatoon on company’s nuclear feasibility study

The door to the William Pascoe Room where the Bruce Power
news conference took place. Only invited guests were allowed beyond this point.

For a company that is hoping to get the public on board for its plans to possibly build a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan, Bruce Power LP has gotten off to an abysmal start.

On the morning of Nov. 27, 2008, The StarPhoenix posted a story announcing that Duncan Hawthorne, the nuclear power generator’s president and CEO, would speak at a news conference at 2 p.m. at the Delta Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon about the findings from its nuclear feasibility study for Saskatchewan.

The private, Ontario-based company announced in June plans to initiate a study into whether or not Saskatchewan would be a good candidate for nuclear power. Hawthorne said at the time the study would likely be complete by the end of the year.

“We made a commitment that we would have this study done by year’s end and it’s important to us,” said Bruce Power spokesman Steve Cannon. “We’ve reached a point now where we have information we can share and some sound findings, so we want to do that and fulfill our commitment.” [Nuclear feasibility study results to be released (StarPhoenix, Nov. 27, 2008)]**

What The StarPhoenix failed to mention, though, is that the public wasn’t welcome. As it turned out attendance was by invitation only. Anyone showing up hoping to get in, but weren’t on the guest list, were turned away.

Arriving shortly before 2 p.m. was Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison and Richard Florizone, the chair of the province’s Uranium Development Partnership (UDP), which has been given a mandate to identify, evaluate and make recommendations on opportunities for value added development of our uranium industry. Part of the UDP mandate is an evaluation of nuclear power generation. The group’s objectivity has been called into question, however, since nine of the twelve members appear to be pro-development.

Moments later, Hawthorne, surrounded by an entourage of suits, strode into the William Pascoe Room. As soon as the press conference got under way the door was closed and officials stood outside making sure no one that wasn’t invited got in.

The news conference concluded at approximately 3 p.m. When asked if the public could have a copy of the feasibility study, or any other information that might have been distributed during the conference, one of the officials guarding the door said no. If the public wants information it’s apparently supposed to check the Bruce Power website.

According to a schedule posted in the hotel’s lobby Bruce Power had the Cypress Room booked for a meeting from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. It also had the Terrance Lounge booked for a meeting from 1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

In a news release issued later Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart and Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said the Government of Saskatchewan is pleased that Bruce Power concluded nuclear power generation could be feasible in Saskatchewan.

“Our government supports adding value to our raw uranium resources here in Saskatchewan to support the long term prosperity of our province and our people,” Stewart said. “We will undertake a thorough evaluation of the conditions identified by Bruce Power that would be necessary for a nuclear power plant to be feasible in Saskatchewan and will provide a response to both Bruce Power and the people of Saskatchewan within six months.”

In a follow-up story The StarPhoenix said that Bruce Power has identified a region in Saskatchewan spanning from Lloydminster that includes the Battlefords and Prince Albert as the most viable spot in the province for a nuclear facility.

The site would likely be somewhere along the North Saskatchewan River between Lloydminster and Prince Albert, and would be between 1,200-1,300 acres. However, the company is saying it won’t be until 2011 that it will announce whether a specific site within the region has been identified or even if it will go ahead with building the plant.

The next step for Bruce Power is to meet with community and aboriginal leaders. Following that, the company may select a suitable location for an environmental assessment. That assessment could take up to three years to complete. [Saskatchewan region ID’d as viable spot for nuclear plant (StarPhoenix, Nov. 27, 2008)]

The manufacturing of consent is already well underway.

Hawthorne was in Saskatoon on Nov. 14, 2008, to speak at a North Saskatoon Business Association luncheon in the Delta Bessborough Hotel. He told the business crowd of more than 230 that a Saskatchewan nuclear power plant would contribute $4 billion to the economy and generate 20,000 direct jobs during its construction.

Hawthorne said the plant would cost $8 billion to $10 billion in total to build, and would ultimately employ 1,000 people full-time, many of those university graduates. It would also contribute about $240 million annually to the provincial economy.

“We’re talking about a very, very significant impact to Saskatchewan’s economy.” [Nuclear plant report due soon (StarPhoenix, Nov. 15, 2008)]

It seems obvious Hawthorne knew then that his company’s plans would be moving on to the next phase, otherwise why would he be in Saskatoon promising jobs, jobs and more jobs. This appears to be a big part of the Bruce Power strategy. Make it sound so good, that to say no would be considered crazy. The huge financial and environmental costs will be pushed to the background.

**Note: The original article Nuclear feasibility study results to be released appears to have been removed from The StarPhoenix website and replaced with Saskatchewan region ID'd as viable spot for nuclear plant.


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