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Nuclear Free North will present to Atikokan council on Monday

A draft resolution on possible nuclear energy projects merely “floated an idea” for Atikokan council to mull over, according to the town's mayor.
Atikokan Mayor Rob Ferguson

ATIKOKAN – A draft resolution on possible nuclear energy projects merely “floated an idea” for Atikokan council to mull over, says the town’s mayor.

An anti-nuclear group will get a chance to present its position to council on Monday.

We the Nuclear Free North is scheduled to make a deputation to Atikokan councillors at a committee of the whole meeting that starts at 4:30 p.m.

The deputation is in response to a staff report and resolution that Jason Young, the town’s chief administrative officer, presented to council on May 13.

The report touted small modular reactors as an example of “innovative and environmentally responsible energy projects” that the town should support.

A small modular reactor is a factory-assembled nuclear reactor that can be transported to a location to produce up to 300 megawatts of electricity.

The report also recommended the town endorse the underground nuclear waste repository proposed by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization for possible construction between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake.

The accompanying draft resolution supports “exploration and development” of small modular reactors and other nuclear energy projects, as well as support for the waste repository should the site near Ignace be selected.

“The resolution floated an idea just so council could digest it,” Mayor Rob Ferguson said in a recent interview.

A resolution that passed in council more than 30 years ago declared Atikokan a nuclear-free zone, he noted.

“What we want to do is just update that resolution,” he said.

“We don’t want to close any doors,” he said. “All we’re saying is, we’re open to discussing any possibilities.”

Atikokan supporting the deep geological repository would be “a step backwards,” said Charles Faust, a founding member of We the Nuclear Free North who lives in Thunder Bay.

Hosting a small modular reactor at the Atikokan Generating Station would be “the wrong way to go,” he added.

Faust won’t be in the delegation to Atikokan council; instead the anti-nuclear position will be presented by North Bay resident Brennain Lloyd and former Atikokan council member Sally Burns, a longtime resident of the town.

“I think our position is quite clear,” Faust said. “We are opposed to the creation of a DGR in Northern Ontario and the transportation of nuclear waste across Northern Ontario.”

At the May 13 meeting discussing Young’s report and resolution, Ferguson said the old nuclear-free zone resolution “can be seen as an impediment” to landing economic opportunities related to nuclear power.

Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After working at newspapers across the Prairies, Mike found where he belongs when he moved to Northwestern Ontario.
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