Tue Jul 3 2012
SOUTHAMPTON – More than 500 residents and tourists marched last weekend to protest a potential nuclear waste facility in this Lake Huron tourist town.
It is the largest protest to date in any of the 19 communities across Canada that are vying to host an underground repository that will store all of the country’s high-level nuclear waste, said Mike Krizanc, spokesperson for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which is overseeing the selection process for the nuclear waste site.
Last week, the Township of Arran-Elderslie in Bruce County became the latest community to put its name forward.
There are now five communities in Bruce County interested in having this nuclear waste facility, including Saugeen Shore, which includes the towns of Port Elgin and Southampton, popular summer destinations for Waterloo Region residents.
Bruce County has close ties to the Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations, the county’s largest employer.
That plant produces 40 per cent of Canada’s used nuclear fuel which means Bruce County would be impacted in terms of transporting the spent fuel rods to wherever the deep geological repository is located
Carrying signs and chanting “No Nuke Dump”and “Protect Our Lakes”,seasonal and full-time residents as well as tourists marched on Saturday along the town’s main street and on the boardwalk gracing the lake to raise public awareness of the issue.
“I am absolutely appalled. Totally appalled and surprised,” said Jan Nicholson, a visitor from Burlington who hadn’t heard about the proposal until the march.
“Who would want to visit or live beside a nuclear dump?” said Nicholson, who has been vacationing here for years with her family.
Dennis O’Leary, a seasonal Southampton resident, said it’s sad to see how this issue has divided this town of 3,000 between full-time residents who want the jobs created by the nuclear site and the cottagers and tourists who fear it will hurt tourism and property values.
“It is all about the stigma,” added John Wolf, another seasonal resident.
Krizanc said there have been other protests – including last summer’s march by a group of northern Saskatchewan residents – but none that have been as large as Southampton’s.