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Old Posted May 8, 2008, 10:23 PM
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SaskPower prefers Lake Diefenbaker for nuclear plant
SaskPower report names site near Elbow as preferred location for nuclear reactor
Angela Hall and James Wood, The Leader-Post and Saskatchewan News Network
Published: Thursday, May 08, 2008
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Party government denied that the Lake Diefenbaker area has been picked as the home of any future nuclear reactor even as a 2007 SaskPower report naming a site near Elbow as the preferred location surfaced Wednesday.

The document, prepared under the previous NDP government, was leaked to CBC a day after Sask. Party Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said in Calgary the government would welcome development from private sector nuclear company Bruce Power LP, which has recently expressed interest in Saskatchewan.

But Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said Wednesday the SaskPower document prepared under the NDP was of limited relevance because it was based on the idea of the Crown corporation itself building and operating a nuclear plant, which the government has ruled out.

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A site near Elbow was named in a SaskPower report as the preferred location for a nuclear reactor.

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Font:****"It underscores some of the needs of a reactor and some of the places it would make sense in Saskatchewan. But on further examination it's a very preliminary study and I'm told before a reactor would be contemplated an extensive study would have to be done," Cheveldayoff told reporters.

He said there are numerous other potential sites for a nuclear plant in the province besides those mentioned in the report.

The 2007 report, which was prepared by Stantec Consulting, looked at potential candidates for a nuclear power plant either around Lake Diefenbaker or near Lac La Loche.

A site on the eastern shore of the Lake Diefenbaker was said to be the "preferred site," with the document noting it is easily accessible from Regina and Saskatoon and is near communities such as Elbow and Outlook, which would be helpful for potential employees.

However, the report also noted that the lake -- a "multipurpose reservoir" -- provides domestic water for about 40 per cent of Saskatchewan, including water drawn from the South Saskatchewan river downstream of the reservoir.

The report said the agricultural land in the area will "likely have no influence on the potential plant development and operation."

"The recreational areas, however, may be a potential constraint as these locations have campsites and the locations could be difficult to evacuate should that be required during an emergency event."

Elbow Mayor David Cross said he had been unaware of the SaskPower report and the fact his region had been named as a potential site for a nuclear plant.

"We would be interested in economic development here just like most places in Saskatchewan," Cross said.

But the area also relies heavily on tourism and wouldn't want to jeopardize that either, he said.

"There's a balance to be had here," he said.

"If the water from such a nuclear plant were going to warm the lake water to the extent where we had algae blooms or it was detrimental the fish stock or whatever else, I think that would generate concern for the community, too."

Cross said it's his personal opinion that there is "nothing innately scary" about the idea of nuclear power but understands a number of concerns about the technology would have to be addressed if it were to ever move forward in the area.

NDP Deputy Leader Pat Atkinson said she had never viewed the SaskPower document, but knew that the NDP ruled out proceeding with the idea of a nuclear plant because it did not make economic sense.

But Atkinson said that since the Sask. Party has acknowledged it talked with Bruce Power about a nuclear plant, the government is obligated to make public which sites in Saskatchewan are being considered. She called Lake Diefenbaker a "very problematic" potential location given its importance as a water source.

However, Boyd told reporters at the legislature that Bruce Power expressed only general interest in Saskatchewan -- not in any specific site -- in the recent meeting he had with company president Duncan Hawthorne.

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Font:****Hawthorne also said Wednesday the company is not eyeing a particular site.

Peter Prebble, manger of energy and water policy with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said the province should rule out the nuclear route altogether and focus instead on large-scale energy conservation efforts and on more renewable energy such as wind power.

Prebble, a former NDP MLA who did not run in the last election, said Lake Diefenbaker as a possible location raises particular concerns given the amount of people who rely on it as a source of drinking water.

"I think the risk of a serious accident is very low. But if it does happen the consequences are crippling," said Prebble, adding there are also day-to-day concerns about the impact on water.

He said a reactor would also "put Saskatchewan on the map as a potential high-level radioactive waste repository site."

Cheveldayoff said the SaskPower document had not been publicly released by the Sask. Party -- which has repeatedly promised to make public all government work on the province's nuclear potential -- because a confidentiality agreement had been signed under the previous NDP government.

The $60,000 report was partially funded by federal Crown corporation Atomic Energy Canada Ltd.
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