JOHN NEWCOMB: B. C. Hydro president Gordon Shrum supported Atomic Energy of Canada’s plan for ‘a $150-million, 500 megawatt nuclear plant at Cowichan Bay’



Victoria came close to getting its power from a nuclear plant, promoted vigorously by B. C. Hydro president Gordon Shrum between 1968 and 1970.

At that time, electrical energy was in tight supply on Vancouver Island, as population and economic development was sucking up every available electron.

Even though then-premier W. A. C. Bennett opposed a nuclear option, Shrum was able to keep the nuclear option on the table by bringing outsiders to bang the drum on behalf of a nuclear plant.

One of Shrum’s big catches was to set up a lunch in late-November 1970 at the Empress Hotel featuring Atomic Energy of Canada chief Lorne Gray.

Shrum introduced Gray by repeating the mantra that B. C. wouldn’t be going nuclear anytime soon, but then gave the floor to Gray who laid out an inviting game plan that would see a $150-million, 500-megawatt nuclear plant being built at Cowichan Bay.

Gray promised that there would be no radioactive waste, apart from bundles of spent fuel rods that could be sent to Europe for disposal.

According to a reporter at the lunch, Gray saw his Cowichan Bay nuclear plant as being in the “anti-pollution league, because virtually noting goes up the stack.”

However, nobody appeared to have ventured any question when Gray then said, “The air from the plant can get radioactive, but this is not a major problem.”

Nor when he stated that the plant would use 360,000 gallons of cooling water per minute which would be returned to the bay some 15-20 degrees warmer.

As things turned out, Victoria didn’t get the nuclear plant.

But shortly after, Sooke’s Jordan River hydro dam was repowered from 26 MW up to 175 mw, and and this now-century-old 1911 dam is still a very useful part of the B. C. Hydro electricity grid.


CCC Reprint:

John Newcomb, Victoria

Victoria Times Colonist

‘Island came close to getting nuke plant’

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Page A11



2 Responses to JOHN NEWCOMB: B. C. Hydro president Gordon Shrum supported Atomic Energy of Canada’s plan for ‘a $150-million, 500 megawatt nuclear plant at Cowichan Bay’

  1. albe says:

    Some possiblities of Geo thermal generation may be in the future. Meager Creek hot steam plant north of Vancouver ,within 200 kms I’m told, would have a capacity of potentially providing enough MW’s to for 200,000 homes.
    Being on the Pacific ring of fire , quite likely that a geo thermal plant on the island could be developed, transmission from the mainland always seems costly. Distance I’m lead to believe degrades some of the power in the transmission.

  2. Diane Dillon says:

    The article above regarding Grays ideas is blatnely obvious , radio active iar and then all the use of water per minute and then it goes into the ocean heated and will this water be good for anything else. I suggesst a clean and efficiaent source of energy also reduce use and fine ways to do things using less energy. what did people do 50 years ago, 100 years ago maybe we should rethink all of it. Stop producing energy sucking product and all that plastic and extra packaging. this planet is not a garbage dump

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