January 16, 2001
Fredericton – Environmentalists are turning up the heat in New Brunswick to head off a possible multimillion-dollar overhaul of the aging Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear reactor.
“We’re urging New Brunswickers to tell Premier Bernard Lord they want a ‘do not resuscitate order’ posted on the Lepreau plant,” David Coon of the New Brunswick Conservation Council, an environmental watchdog, said Monday.
“The nuclear power industry is in its sunset in most parts of the world. This isn’t the time for heroic and costly measures to keep Lepreau operating.”
The Lord government is expected to decide next year whether it will give the go-ahead for a major refurbishment of the 17-year-old Candu reactor located on the Bay of Fundy in southern New Brunswick.
Cost estimates range from $500 million to $700 million. NB Power, the provincial Crown utility that owns and operates the plant in southern New Brunswick, is holding information sessions to gauge public reaction to the proposal, which could add 25 years to Lepreau’s life.
“To extend the lifespan, we need a number of groups on board,” said Rod White, vice president of nuclear operations at NB Power.
“Obviously, we need the government on board; we need our board of directors and, ultimately, I think you need the public on side. So far, reaction from the public seems neutral to positive. It’s not an issue with them, basically.”
But it’s a hot button issue with environmental groups in New Brunswick and in other parts of Canada. Tom Adams of Energy Probe, a national environmental organization based in Toronto, said it’s time New Brunswick started looking at post-nuclear power sources.
“Lepreau is old, it’s in bad shape and the prospects for fixing it up, based on the track record, are not good,” Adams said.