NDP leader alleges pact struck with oilsands company



An oilsands company has struck a secret deal to have a nuclear power plant fuel their continued expansion, opposition critics charged yesterday.

Their comments came after Energy Alberta admitted that 70 per cent of potential future output from a proposed nuclear power plant in the province has already been committed to a single source.

Company president Wayne Henuset refused to reveal the secret customer for the $6.2-billion project, but called their contract “as solid as it gets.”

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said he’s completely opposed to building a nuclear facility in the province, especially if the public is left in the dark.

“I’m not prepared for a moment to support a nuclear power plant going ahead if it’s being built for some kind of secret customer,” he said. “This power plant will be here for decades, if it’s built, and the nuclear waste will be around for thousands of years. To think we would take that kind of a risk to provide electricity to somebody that we don’t even know is crazy.”

Energy Alberta has purchased roughly 580 hectares of land near Peace River, Alta., around 400 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, but faces years of governmental approvals before the plant can be built.

New Democrat critic David Eggen is convinced the company’s secret customer is an oilsands company hungry for a dedicated power source to fast-track development.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone else with that kind of power demand,” he said. “The whole idea of having this as a big mystery is totally wrong.”

The NDP now plan on making a nuclear oilsands project an election issue, he said.

Jason Chance, a spokesman for the province’s energy department, said it’s unclear if the company will be forced to reveal their customer during the approval process.

“It’s a very lengthy and detailed regulatory process, at both a provincial and federal level,” he said. “That’s why public input as well as safety and environmental assessments are important parts of that process.”