Bencancour officials fight to keep Gentilly-2 open
Published Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:42PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 5, 2012 7:14AM EDT
Some business leaders and politicians are vowing to do whatever it takes to convince the Parti Quebecois to keep the Gentilly-2 nuclear power plant.
Nearly 800 people will lose their jobs in the town of Becancour following the official decision Wednesday by Hydro-Quebec to shut the plant down. The decision comes shortly after newly elected Premier Pauline Marois also announced the Parti Quebecois would shut down Gentilly-2.
Many fear the closure will cripple the local economy.
“Just to compare to Montreal, it's like closing a factory of 60,000 jobs all at once,” said Patrick Charlebois of the Trois-Rivieres Chamber of Commerce. “That's a lot of people, a lot of jobs. We are very worried about our future.”
The mayors of Trois-Rivieres and Becancourt, as well as the head of the chamber of commerce, are joining forces to demand a meeting with the Parti Quebecois.
They feel they've been ignored so far, said Trois-Rivieres Mayor Yves Levesque.
“At least have the decency to wait and sit down and discuss. We're not just closing the park here, we're closing a building that has 800 families, and 4000 people are impacted. It's incredible,” he said.
The group is seeking a parliamentary commission on closing the plant, something they say Marois herself had called for in 2008.
They also want to know how the government came up with the $200 million figure to revitalize the area’s economy.
“Why 200 million dollars? Why not 150 million, why not $1 billion?” said Charlebois.
They group has prepared a petition with more than 4,000 names, hoping their voices will be heard.
“We have hope they will really listen to us,” said Becancour Mayor Gaetane Desilets. “That's what we want.”
Residents of the town, however, are divided on the decision to close the plant.
“I'm not happy with the decision to close the plant,” said one woman in Becancour. “Too many jobs are on the line.”
“It's not necessarily good for our health,” said Becancour resident Benoit Pellerin. “I think it’s the right thing to shut it down,”
Within the next few weeks, the city of Becancour will organize a public information meeting to galvanize citizens in an effort to fight for their livelihoods -- even though many say they fear the decision to close the plant is irreversible.