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Opinions differ on safety of possible nuclear plant

Opinions differ on safety of possible nuclear plant
Last Updated: Monday, May 28, 2007 | 11:42 AM MT
CBC News

A sustainable energy advocate is warning about the possible safety drawbacks of building a nuclear power plant in Alberta, but an engineering expert said the risks are small.

"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," said Mark Winfield of the Pembina Institute.

He hopes more questions are answered before Alberta decides it's in favour of building its first nuclear power plant, even though many people in Whitecourt and Peace River — two potential sites for a plant — appear to like the idea.

But John Luxat, who specializes in nuclear safety analysis at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., believes that nuclear plants are so safe that the possibility of an accidental release of radioactive material is one in a million.

"I would be happier to live on the boundary of a nuclear power plant than I would be to live near a chemical plant which has gaseous products," he said.

Energy Alberta Corp. has been lobbying industry, government and the public in Alberta to raise awareness about the benefits of a nuclear plant.

The company plans to file a preliminary application for the project with the federal Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in mid-June, starting a review process that would take at least 10 years.

Representatives from both Whitecourt and Peace River have said they like the idea.

A nuclear plant could provide power to extract oil from the oilsands.

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