Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Whitecourt, used as a 'thin wedge', begins consultations with Nuke Proponents

Whitecourt is a small town near massive (mock) oil development. It's also a town known for helping establish the "precedent" of industrial development. If the nuclear proponents get one reactor approved somewhere to feed their insatiable drive for (tar sands mock) oil, then it will grow politically available ten thousand times higher, and our job gets worse.

What shall we do?


Energy Alberta talks nuclear power with Whitecourt residents
Hundreds of community residents gathered at the Whitecourt Community Centre on May 17 to hear a presentation from the Energy Alberta Corporation—the company proposing to build a nuclear reactor in the area.
Nicole Quintal

Star Staff
Wednesday May 23, 2007
The meeting with the nuclear company was scheduled by the town of Whitecourt and Woodlands County in order to give members of the public more information about the controversial structure that would power oil extraction operations in the province.
"We know that this is a huge opportunity for the town and Woodlands County," Mayor Trevor Thain said in an opening statement.
Energy Alberta Corporation president Wayne Henuset lead the forum and provided the public with figures regarding the need for a nuclear plant in Alberta with the increasing demand for oil and gas. He said there were many reasons as to why Whitecourt was on the list of ideal spots for the structure.
"You have a great infrastructure in the community, we’re going to bring about 870 jobs, so you have to have an infrastructure that can handle the added population base," Henuset explained. "You’re accessible to the grid--there’s a power grid that goes through your community, and as well is you’ve got great transportation in the community and out of the community for the access of employment."
He added that community involvement and input would be crucial to the fate of the reactor.
"We have to inform you. We have to let you know about nuclear power," Henuset said during his presentation. "I’m not a nuclear guy, I’m an oil and gas guy. Been an oil and gas guy all my life. So this is all new to me as well. I had to be educated, I got myself up to date on it, got informed, and we’re doing this through involvement with all of you people at the same time."

John Ferguson, a city councillor who lives near a nuclear reactor in St. John, NB, also spoke to residents about his experience living close to the facility and how he was never negatively effected by it.
"I wholeheartedly believe that nuclear power is safe," Ferguson announced to the audience, adding that the refurbishment of that reactor was highly supported in the maritime community, while support for energy generated by oil and gas was highly questioned--the opposite of what was happening in Whitecourt.
Patrick Moore of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., formerly of Greenpeace, made a similar presentation during the forum that boasted safety and environmental benefits of the technology.
However, the question and answer period following the presentations was met with mixed reviews from community residents. One man wondered why the forum only featured speakers that represented one-sided views on nuclear power. Other residents worried about how radioactive material could affect water and land, and what would happen if a potential accident occurred. Some residents on the other hand were in complete support of the project, such as Brian Elko.
"I’m in favour of the nuclear plant. I brought up the subject of free electricity (during the question and answer period) for residents of Whitecourt and the reason I did that was because hopefully these people are community minded. They’re also looking for our support," he said. "If they give us support by giving us a discount on electricity, everybody will raise their hand up and say ‘we’re in favour.’"
Even if Energy Alberta Corporation does decide to build the reactor here, it will take at least four years for the government to approve the project and another four to five years to build the structure, Henuset announced. He added that potential workers would have to undergo a five to seven-year training program.
Size-wise, the reactor would be comparable to the ANC paper mill, and would only require 15 acres of space for accommodations. The facility would also need a 900-metre radius around it for safety and radiation reasons, Henuset said.
A majority of those in attendance voted in favour of holding more public information sessions about the proposed technology.
Peace River is the other potential location for the reactor. Energy Alberta Corporation has not yet given any public presentations in that community.

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