Bruce Power License Renewal Hearings Underway

CNSC Hearings Kincardine, April 14, 2015 Photo by Jordan McKinnon.

Bruce Power was the recipient of support and some concern during the first full day of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission hearings into its operating license renewal request.

Kincardine Mayor Anne Eadie presented the support of her community to the application, providing detail on Bruce Power’s efforts to keep the community informed and up-to-date on activities at the Bruce nuclear site.

She says there’s no concern in the community about safety at Bruce Power, pointing out the municipality and Bruce Power actively work together on emergency plans.

It was suggested during the hearings that nuclear emergency preparations in the community are potentially incomplete, something Eadie disputes.

“That is not true. I have attended meetings on emergency preparedness, they are constantly updating their plans. Due diligence is, in my viewpoint, very very thorough,” says Eadie.

The Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce also appeared before the commission to put its support behind the Bruce Power application.

General Manager Joanne Robbins says Bruce Power has improved safety at the site in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, adding the company was up front and transparent in the wake of the disaster, providing updates to the community as the event was unfolding.

She says the Bruce Power site itself has become a tourist draw for the area, pointing out the Visitors Centre near Underwood has become an attraction for visitors to the area.

“It is now… on our list of rainy day things to do, and it is very well attended by people from all over Ontario and upper Michigan,” says Robbins.

Support was less unanimous from Saugeen Ojibway Nation, who are voicing concern over potential impacts to the Aboriginal fishing industry.

Former Saugeen First Nation chief Randall Kahgee told the CNSC they have yet to see convincing evidence that would assure Saugeen Ojibway Nation that Bruce Power does not have a negative impact on Lake Huron or the fishery.

He says their way of life requires a definitive answer.

“We don’t have the luxury of what-ifs. We need to know with absolute certainty, the best we can, the best precision we can, whether or not the [Bruce Power] facility is having a negative impact on that [Aboriginal fishing] right or not. So there’s a real sense of urgency to this issue for our people and for our communities,” says Kahgee.

Bruce Power President and CEO Duncan Hawthorne says the company is more than willing to participate in a study of fish populations in Lake Huron, but requests for Bruce Power to fund the entire study are unreasonable.

“For a decade, I’ve been asked to fund a full Lake Huron survey to characterize the fish population of an entire lake. We will not do that. That is not a requirement of our facility. We are happy to participate with other things, it goes far beyond the requirements and it’s not a reasonable request of us,” says Hawthorne.

Hawthorne says Bruce Power continues to meet the requirements of its environmental assessment, adding he believes Bruce Power has a strong relationship with Saugeen Ojibway Nation and they will continue to work together on issues.

The CNSC is scheduled to hold hearings in Kincardine through Thursday, with Bruce Power seeking a five-year renewal of its operating licenses for Bruce A and B stations.