Sounding Danger

in and around the Bruce Nuclear Power Facility

Megaprojects New Media

This site presents four interview-based audio compositions highlighting different aspects of living and working near the Bruce Nuclear Power Facility and Heavy Water Plant in Kincardine, Ontario.

The interviews were conducted with nearby residents and workers in the plants by Joy Parr in 2000-2001. The compositions were arranged by Jon van der Veen in 2007.

In passing on knowledge about radiation and hydrogen sulphide gas to residents and plant workers alike, managers and trainers resorted to more familiar analogies that would resonate well with the townspeople. 

Equate Things

The nuclear and heavy water plants challenged residents’ knowledge structures in several ways. 


Overnight camping at Inverhuron Park was deemed too risky by Ontario Hydro due to the heavy water plant's emissions of hydrogen sulphide gas.

Inverhuron Park

Vern Austman.  Alberta born, began at Chalk River 1953, worked on Douglas Point preparations from 1962; moved to Kincardine in 1964; a senior engineer and manager with Ontario Hydro; seconded to India in the 1970s.

Eugene Bourgeois.  From Kitchener Ontario; undergraduate philosophy degree from University of Waterloo; father-in-law a Cambridge University physicist with experience at Chalk River; he and wife huronAnn to farm on border of Bruce Nuclear and Inverhuron Park site in 1974; begin to raise sheep and buy wool from other Huron Shore sheep farmers; run a yarn and knitting pattern business called Philosopher's Wool; their troubles arise from the hydrogen sulphide releases from the heavy water plant. Bourgeois is knocked down by gas in the spring of 1985 and 1988; from 1985 his lambs fail to thrive; with support from University of Alberta and Cornell scientists establishes that the H2S plumes are trapped over his fields and buildings in times of temperature inversion by the steep cliff back from the lake shore; from 1994 has agreement from Ontario Hydro to limit gas releases in times of temperature inversion. Trouble ceases when heavy water plant closes in 1997.

Paul Carroll.  Huron County native, teacher in Goderich, reader of Amery Lovins, with group of  Huron County professionals and farmers form CANTDU in mid 1970s to resist the expansion of nuclear sites along Huron shore; appear before Porter Commission; group publishes Half Life: Nuclear Power and Future Society (1977).

Ben Cleary.  Atlantic Canadian, stationary engineer, began in petroleum refineries in Newfoundland; in  1967 moved to Deuterium of Canada, Glace Bay and then Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia heavy water plants; to Bruce to work as production operator at heavy water plant January 1970; returned to Kincardine to retire.

Keith and Lola Davidson. Moved to Kincardine 1960 when Keith becomes area manager and recreation director of the town; keen campers as a family at Inverhuron Park; children have summer jobs at nuclear site; active in community.

Dick Joyce.  Chemical technologist trained at St Clair College, after time at Deep River to Bruce site in 1971; works in radiation protection training through until early 90s, then as Municipal Emergency Coordinator for Bruce Township.

Lorne McConnell was Vice-President of Ontario Hydro and responsible for the commissioning of nuclear power generation in Ontario. 

Dave McKee.  Chalk River native, to AECL as trainee operator in
1955; worked on NRX; qualified as a first operator in 1963 on NPD; in
1964 went to Kincardine as control room operator on Douglas Point reactor;
active in the union; worked in later years as an admired and effective
instructor in radiation protection.

Robert Mackenzie.  Grew up in Tiverton and Inverhuron, BA in social science, in 1980s
adviser to farmers during agricultural debt crisis; active in Inverhuron
Ratepayers opposition to closing of Inverhuron Park and after closure to
overnight camping keeps park and Little Au Sauble salmon stream in
public eye through annual runs and work parties;  bee-keeper.

Charles Mann.  Decorated soldier in Italian campaign, WWII, returned to Canada and joins AECB in 1946; works as an operator on the NRX, an early National Research Experimental reactor which melted down in the early 1950s. Worked on the NRX clean-up, and continued with AECB at Rolfton and Chalk River until 1960 when transferred to Ontario Hydro and moved to Kincardine. On school board, and council in town and for 14 years between 1968 and 1994 was mayor.

Barry Schell born on farm in North Bruce, began work at age 18 in 1979 at Bruce A nuclear plant as a service maintainer, then worked as scaffolder at heavy water plant, and returned to Bruce nuclear site after heavy water plant closed.



Part of Lorne McConnell’s nuclear project was a philosophy that all workers, from plant managers to janitors, have knowledge about their own safety requirements within the facility rather than rely on specialized safety personnel.

The McConnell System

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© Jon van der Veen, 2009

photo: Bruce Nuclear Power Facility courtesey of John Charlton