Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bruce Power: Information sessions to utilize inferior open house format; online presentation doesn’t appear to mesh with feasibility study

Bruce Power ad in Prince Albert Daily Herald, Mar. 7, 2009

Bruce Power online presentation

The drive to convince residents in central Saskatchewan that nuclear power is something they can’t live without and will lead the province to untold riches shows no sign of letting up as Bruce Power continues to buy advertising in local newspapers.

The Ontario-based private nuclear generating company took out full-page ads in the Prince Albert Daily Herald on Feb. 14 and Mar. 7 with the most recent one offering what appears to be a free meal to anyone willing to come out and listen to its spiel.

“We want to give you an update of our plans and get your feedback at our upcoming Community Information Sessions,” the ad states.

The company is planning three sessions: March 18 at the Travelodge in Prince Albert, March 19 at the Best Western Wayside Inn in Lloydminster, and March 20 at the Don Ross Centre in North Battleford. The ad notes that all sessions are 3 to 8 p.m. A light meal will be served between 5 and 7 p.m.

Those wanting more information were asked to visit Bruce Power’s website or contact the Saskatoon office of Golder Associates at 1-888-665-7989 or email at

According to its website Golder is an international group of companies that provides ground engineering and environmental consulting services in support of environmental, industrial, natural resources, health, and civil engineering projects. Golder’s 2006 annual report states that Bruce Power is a client and that the firm has conducted several environmental assessments for the company. The firm’s work for Bruce Power included creating a “communications strategy” for local First Nations and community at large that involved open houses, workshops, newsletters, direct mail and library materials.

Golder is also a contributor to the Saskatchewan Party. Since 2004 the company has donated $4,719.92 to the political party.

In response to a request for additional information Golder staff said on Mar. 9 that the upcoming information sessions will be “an open house format. There will be displays set up showing the current status of the project and representatives from Bruce Power available to answer any questions” that the public might have.

Unfortunately, open houses can be inferior to town hall meetings where the public can ask questions or make comments and everyone attending can hear what’s being said including the answers. At an open house discussions are generally scattered around a room and isolated involving only a few individuals at a time with people coming and going throughout. This format favours Bruce Power since any troubling questions or concerns would be confined to a few people.

It wouldn’t be at all surprising if some time down the road Bruce Power started waving around the results of its open houses saying that public support for nuclear power in Saskatchewan is growing. If the company truly desires open and meaningful dialogue with communities it should consider town hall meetings where transcripts are taken and made available free of charge to anyone requesting them.

Bruce Power might also want to make a point of attending meetings sponsored by others. The Meridian Booster reported on a meeting held in Paradise Hill near Lloydminster on Mar. 9 that was attended by more than 400 people. The event was organized by a group called Save Our Saskatchewan, which “was formed last month by residents concerned about the prospect of a Bruce Power nuclear plant being stationed somewhere in the region along the North Saskatchewan River.” No representatives from Bruce Power attended the meeting. [Nuclear reaction (Meridian Booster, Mar. 11, 2009)]

On Feb. 26, CBC News reported that Bruce Power representatives have been approaching some farmers in the Rural Municipality of Britannia, northeast of Lloydminster, expressing interest in buying their land.

According to the CBC, Bruce Power spokesperson Steve Cannon said no land has been purchased and no options have been signed.

Cannon says the company has been speaking to many land owners in the province, including some in Prince Albert.

He said the company is trying to educate landowners about nuclear power.

“Our approach has always been to really be up-front with landowners, tell them who we are and why we’re asking questions,” Cannon said. “It’s all just part of the process of trying to narrow it down to a site selection where we can someday conduct a full environmental assessment.” [Debate over nuclear power warms up in Sask. (CBC News, Feb. 26, 2009)]

We can only imagine what Bruce Power are telling people as they “educate” them about nuclear power. If the full-page ads in local newspapers are any indication it’s all about jobs and the boatloads of money that can be made.

At least one Saskatchewan Conservative MP is on board and officials from the affected communities have visited the Bruce plant in Ontario.

In the Meridian Booster earlier this year Battlefords–Lloydminster MP Gerry Ritz lashed out at critics of nuclear power saying, “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for Saskatchewan and there are always the naysayers out there, nothing based on scientific fact, just on fear-mongering,” he said. “To have that here in this area, the jobs it creates, the long-term stability it creates, I think it’s a tremendous opportunity.” [‘Tremendous opportunity’ with nuclear: politicians (Meridian Booster)]

Ritz’s past eneavours listed on his website include sales, co-ownership of a community newspaper, general contracting as well as grain and ostrich farming. No sign of a scientific background here.

Apparently Ritz is unaware of the numerous fact based columns and op-eds on the pitfalls of nuclear power that have appeared in The StarPhoenix over the years by environmental columnist Paul Hanley and Dr. Jim Harding, a retired professor of environmental and justice studies at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan.

The Meridian Booster reported a few months ago that civic officials from Lloydminster, North Battleford and Prince Albert toured a Bruce Power facility in Ontario at the end of October.

“We went down there to get information, because we knew there would be a lot of questions,” said Lloydminster Mayor Ken Baker. [A glimpse into our nuclear future? (Meridian Booster)]

This was long before Bruce Power’s feasibility study was released. It’s clear that part of the company’s strategy was to get local leaders on side as early as possible.

Bruce Power recently posted a presentation on its website outlining highlights of the feasibility study it released in Saskatoon on Nov. 27. The presentation, which runs approximately seven minutes, contains a few details not outlined in the study, or at least presented a little differently.

Similar to the newspaper ads the presentation completely avoids any discussion about the massive costs associated with building a nuclear reactor or the cost to taxpayers for infrastructure upgrades, cost overruns, refurbishing and decommissioning.

Comments made recently by Crown Investments Corporation Minister Ken Cheveldayoff regarding upgrades should be raising red flags but so far haven’t.

When Bruce Power presented its feasibility study on Nov. 27, The StarPhoenix reported Cheveldayoff telling reporters after that news conference that “SaskPower spends right now between $400 and $500 million on capital upgrades (in an average year); part of that will be towards the grid and we see that amount increasing in the future.” [Firm touts nuclear plant (StarPhoenix, Nov. 28, 2008)]

Then on Mar. 5 the CBC reported Cheveldayoff saying that “we’re looking at a capital expenditure of nearly $1 billion in each of the next four years in SaskPower.” [No rebates from $185-million Crown dividend, Sask. government says (CBC News, Mar. 5, 2009)]

It appears that SaskPower’s capital expenditures could be doubling and no one is asking any questions.

Bruce Power is no stranger to cost overruns. In the op-ed Public cost of nuclear power high (StarPhoenix, Mar. 6, 2009) Jim Harding points out that, “In Ontario, Bruce Power is behind schedule and over-budget in refurbishing two reactors. Its promise to have one reactor on-line by 2009 won’t be met. Ontario’s lucky electrical consumers get to pay half of the first $300 million cost overrun, which is already at $237 million.

“After that, they pay one-quarter of overruns. What a deal: a private corporation gets to profit by using the public grid, while it’s guaranteed public backing for going over-budget. Bruce already has raised the possibility of a partnership with the Saskatchewan Party government and/or SaskPower for its guesstimated $10-billion project and there’s no reason to believe economic risks similar to Ontario’s wouldn’t be borne by us.”

It’s a good bet that folks enjoying the free meal at the upcoming Bruce Power information sessions won’t hear any of this.

Bruce Power notes the following in its online presentation:

“Since 2006, we have been considering growth options for nuclear power throughout Canada. We believe that Saskatchewan has the potential to be the host of a nuclear power plant built and operated by Bruce Power.”

[In the legislature on Dec. 1 Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart said “All options could be on the table supposing we ever get to the stage of building anything . . . right from CIC doing it, a CIC-government partnership, a CIC-private sector partnership, a design-operate-build by the private sector or any combination of those possibilities.”

Outside the chamber, Stewart said he personally favours the private sector being responsible for the project.

Stewart also said Bruce Power is “open to anything,” but the only model he’s discussed with them would see them design, build, own and operate the nuclear reactors. [CIC could have nuclear role (StarPhoenix, Dec. 2, 2008)]

Judging by the presentation it would appear that Bruce Power intends build and operate the plant.]

Work force: “Our goal is to locate the project within 50 kilometers of a town of 10,000 people or more which would include any of the areas highlighted in green on the map.”

Work force: “Since the project would create many jobs some relocation and training of workers would be needed, however, we want to build a power plant in a place where the population and community services can support it.”

[Relocate from where? The feasibility study doesn’t mention relocation or training.]

Water source: “The second factor to consider is the water that is needed for cooling. An assessment of water sources in the province concluded that only the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers have sufficient water flow year round to meet the needs of a power plant. Of the two rivers, the North Saskatchewan River and the South Saskatchewan River downstream of Saskatoon seem to be the best choices at this point in our studies. This would avoid the area around Saskatoon and Lake Diefenbaker.”

Access to power markets: “A nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan could provide electricity for SaskPower and also for export to the growing Alberta market. The red lines on the map show existing power lines in the province. The yellow circles show existing and plant interties places where electricity can be exported to Alberta. Preferred sites within the region being considered are close to existing transmission corridors and also close to the plant intertie at Lloydminster.”

[SaskPower isn’t mentioned in the feasibility study. The report only states: “In addition to supporting Saskatchewan’s electricity needs, a nuclear facility could also be used to export electricity to Alberta.” It remains to be seen whether SaskPower will still be a Crown corporation by the time a nuclear plant opens.]

Public support: “An early poll conducted on behalf of Bruce Power shows a majority of Saskatchewan residents recognize that nuclear power is reliable, safe, and clean. We are optimistic that support for the benefits for nuclear power will increase as we are still in the process of communicating the facts about the safe, reliable, and affordable nature of nuclear power.”

[Bruce Power released this polling information in an Aug. 6, 2008 update. The same report indicated that “people in Saskatchewan overwhelmingly support the use of wind (94%) and solar (95%)” and “The top five reasons for opposing nuclear include concerns such as: safety, environmental impacts, health, waste and a general opposition to the technology.” The company’s newspaper ads and website presentation don’t include these items.]

Economics: “In addition to providing electricity a nuclear power plant would have significant economic benefits. According to our assessment the project would contribute approximately $5.1 billion dollars to the provincial gross domestic product over the course of the ten year construction period. Once in operation the project would contribute about $443 million dollars annually to Saskatchewan’s economy for sixty years.”

[Bruce Power appears to be monkeying around with its numbers. In the feasibility study the company said that, “During site preparation and construction the project would contribute about $4 billion to the provincial economy, including $1.4 billion in labour income.” The presentation, however, states that during the 10 year construction phase the project would contribute $5.1 billion to the province’s GDP and $2.2 billion in total labour income. The feasibility study states that the project will contribute almost $240 million annually to the provincial economy when the plant is operating. Yet the presentation says $443 million annually for sixty years. Which is it?]

Reducing greenhouse gases: “One of the benefits of developing a nuclear option in Saskatchewan is the impact it could have on reducing the growth of greenhouse gases. As seen in the graph nuclear energy produces fewer or very similar emissions to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro. This assessment considers the full life cycle for a nuclear power plant including uranium mining and processing.”

[In the column Nuclear power costly, no friend of environment (StarPhoenix, Dec. 2, 2008) Paul Hanley noted that “the most significant finding of Bruce Power’s Feasibility Study for a nuclear power plant in the province” is that it “would not result in the reduction of Saskatchewan’s overall emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).”

“As indicated in a graph included in the study, even after spending up to $10 billion on nuclear power, Saskatchewan would still be producing 16.5 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2035, slightly more than it does today. A standard goal for GHG reductions sufficient to ameliorate climate change is emissions 20 per cent below 1990 levels,” Hanley said.

“Even if we spend billions on nuclear power, the economy and energy use will continue to grow -- emitting more GHGs -- faster than the alternative nuclear power sources can replace them. This underscores the ineffectiveness of capital-intensive, high-cost climate strategies that involve nuclear power and clean coal.”]

Environmental assessment: “The environmental assessment process is an opportunity to engage with communities and aboriginal peoples before any decisions to build a plant are made. Feedback from the public as well as the results of our studies will be used to identify ways of avoiding or reducing negative effects of the project.”

Project schedule: “As you can see the planning and approvals process is currently underway. We expect that site preparation could begin by mid 2011. Construction of the plant would take about five years meaning the earliest that a nuclear power plant could become operational would be 2018.”

[The Saskatchewan Party government has repeatedly stated that no firm decision has been made on moving forward with a nuclear power plant, but you wouldn’t guess that after reading some of the statements that have been made by government officials over the last few months.]


At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found your site and really appreciate the info. Keep up the good work.

At 5:47 AM, Blogger JimBobby said...

Whooee! Hey Joe, we have the same dog and pony show going on here in the Nanticoke area. I've attended some of the "Community Information Sessions" and you're on the money a hunnert percent's worth. It's a one-sided disinformation campaign.

Bruce's paid spokesliar, Dr. Doug Boreham of MacMaster U., has stood before our local mayors and councillors and told them that in 200 years, a person will be able to stand in the presence of a spent fuel rod and receive the same dose of radiation one gets from a CT scan.

What he failed to mention was that a CT scan delivers between 400-600 times the radiation of a chest x-ray. He also failed to mention that fuel rods are welded into bundles of 37 and the welding job is designed to last 18 months at he core of the reactor. They will never be separated into a situation where an individual could stand in the presence of one rod. Additionally, he failed to mention that the spent rods are all kept in central locations with hundreds or even thousands of bundles in the same place.

Boreham flatly denies any knowledge of the German childhood leukemia studies. He told our county council that nuclear plants are never shut down due to a shortage of cool water. Not true and he had to have known it.

Golder spokesliar Duncan Moffat told our county council that 30% of Environmental Assessments result in a rejection of the proposal. In fact, only 35 are rejected.

Wait til they start telling you it's more dangerous to eat 4 bananas a day than to live next door to a nuke plant. I'm serious. They are saying just that.

We are in the same boat as you and we are fighting the same Goliath. It might be good if a few of the communities targeted by Bruce could get together and co-ordinate a defense. If you or any anti-nuke elements want to try working together, contact me at


At 5:48 AM, Blogger JimBobby said...

Typo: In fact, only 35 are rejected.

Should read: In fact, only 3% are rejected.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger RED said...



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