“As a nuclear plant-hosting municipality, we have depended on it in terms of finance and employment…. Our village may have reaped benefits for 30 or 40 years. But if we lose our homeland in return, what’s the point?.. What a lowly, sad people we are to think that way…”
These are the words of Tatsuya Murakami, Mayor of Tokai Japan after the Fukushima accident. Tokai has twelve nuclear establishments and about eight thousand of its inhabitants depend on them for their livelihood. I’ve been to the Tokai area on five or six separate occasions before Fukushima and found it to be a pleasant and prosperous place. Murakami was a strong early booster of the nuclear industry but now is the leader of the Japanese municipalities trying to stop the restart of their shut-down reactors.
This is just a cautionary note because, as one might expect, there were several project boosting interventions at the Darlington hearings based on economic benefits to communities including lots of well paying jobs. The essential messages were that the proponents loved all things nuclear and especially the associated money which they insist must be kept flowing. They were right to say that thousands of new high quality jobs were bound to be created by the refurbishment project.
Politicians at all levels pushed this message as did reps of the nuclear unions and companies in the industry. There were even a couple of presentations from the newly fledged local university, one consisting of a lame plea from engineering students that they needed the jobs the project would create.
While it’s not within the mandate of the CNSC to consider job creation, we can be sure that this aspect is glowingly reported to what used to be called “the Centre” of the federal government (PCO or PMO?) as yet another triumph of the administration’s Economic Action Plan.
OPG was portrayed by many as a strong supporter of the communities around Darlington. Apparently this included lots of money in addition to briefings to local municipal councils. It seems that for many years the OPG cash fairy was flitting around sprinkling money on all sorts of no doubt worthy organizations; they in turn showed up to sing OPG’s praises at the hearings.
Support was also given by towns hosting other nuclear installations far from Darlington. Closer to home the Mayor of Clarington gave a fulsome endorsement to OPG including thanking them for providing funding so that their Council could hire consultants to review the OPG submission to the Environmental Assessment. He didn’t say but I’d guess that such a review might be done for something like $50,000 or less. I thought it was a pity that the municipality with an annual budget of more than $60 million (as far as I could tell on the net) couldn’t afford to do this with its own funds especially since as the Mayor said it was so important to the town. But then who could refuse the OPG cash fairy?
Let’s hope for all of our sakes that Darlington’s local politicians don’t find themselves in the future with the same regrets as the Mayor of Tokai.