Company applies to build Alberta’s first atomic power plant
Plans have been set in motion to have a silhouette of nuclear reactors loom over Alberta’s northern skyline after an application was filed to build a massive power plant.
Bruce Power is proposing the province’s first nuclear facility to be built near Peace River with four reactors capable of producing 4,000 megawatts of power — four times the output of the infamous and accident-plagued Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania.
Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Bruce, a consortium of Canadian power companies, said they will begin extensive consultations with the public next month. The plant could be operational within nine years if they receive regulatory approval, supplying enough power for two million households.
But the prospect of introducing nuclear power in Alberta faces strong, vocal opposition. A group of Peace River landowners near the proposed site staged protests in November and plans further demonstrations this year.
The Alberta Liberals and New Democrats both oppose nuclear power and have expressed outrage that such controversial proposals are now before regulators.
Leila Darwish of the Sierra Club’s Prairie chapter says a variety of energy sources are already available in the province that don’t share the risks or have the same drain on the water supply associated with nuclear plants.
"We’ve been hearing that nuclear energy is clean and it’s green, but it’s none of those things," she said. "We have a lot of other energy options that are safer and don’t leave a toxic legacy for future generations."
The province currently has no written policy on nuclear energy, but Premier Ed Stelmach committed yesterday to form an expert panel to review nuclear power by the end of the year. He had hinted at striking such a committee for the past 10 months.
Energy experts from around the world will lead the panel, he said, later making their recommendations on nuclear options to government. Albertans will then be consulted based on their findings.