A bylaw made almost 30 years ago after a town referendum saw 64 per cent of residents vote in favour of declaring Smithers a nuclear weapons free zone will not affect plans for a small scale nuclear power plant on the edge of town according to Mayor Taylor Bachrach.
“Our 1986 bylaw made Smithers a nuclear weapon free zone, but thankfully it seems to be silent on nuclear power plants. If that bylaw had included power plants, I’m not sure what we would have done. Amend it, I suppose?” said Bachrach last week.
A site owned by the town near the Fall Fair grounds has been chosen, with construction expected in the summer.
Nuclear waste is expected to be delivered to a Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako property near Telkwa after a contract is negotiated with Smithers and the investment company out of China.
“I’ve said before that waste management is our number one expense. This is a chance to turn it into a revenue stream,” said Electoral Area A (Smithers rural) director Mark Fisher.
“It’s about economic development. One man’s trash — or nuclear waste — is another man’s treasure.”
Bachrach compared the plant, which will use Bulkley River water for its cooling tower, to run-of-the-river hydro electric dams — considered more environmentally friendly. He also described the facility as “artisanal.”
“I’m glad the proponents have agreed to incorporate the town’s alpine theme in the design of the reactor. We understand it is going to be the first nuclear power plant in the world to feature an alpine mural and timber-frame entrance,” said Bachrach.
Despite a possible meltdown from nearby residents on such a radioactive project, the mayor believes there is a sort of destiny in having a nuclear power plant in Smithers.
“For a town to be named after a character from the Simpsons and not have a nuclear power plant seems a real shame,” said Bachrach.
“This development brings a certain sense of completeness.”
Happy April Fools’ Day!