Lepreau retrofit likely – response

Tom Adams
Telegraph – Journal
June 4, 2003

Letter to the Editor:


Before New Brunswick commits to a megaproject overhaul of the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor, take a look at the mess with AECL’s MAPLE reactor projects and the commercial disaster happening with the Ontario government’s Pickering A project.

AECL’s MAPLE reactor projects are now over three years behind schedule due to major safety deficiencies and shoddy construction.

During the period 1983-1989, the four reactor Pickering A station underwent the same retubing that NB Power is planning for Point Lepreau. Although the project went over budget and came in behind schedule, the most important lesson from the retubing was that the reactors operated poorly afterwards. Design flaws and operator error resulted in a 1991 reactor accident, one of the worst ever in a CANDU reactor. Production was low but the repair work consumed enormous resources, draining the rest of Ontario Hydro. Eventually Ontario Hydro’s inability to meet safety requirements lead to the station’s closure in 1997. The failed Pickering A retubing was a leading cause of Ontario Hydro’s bankruptcy and break-up in 1999.

The Ontario government started trying to get Pickering A running again in 1998. The original estimate was $800 million for the first of the four reactors to be running by December 2000 and the last to be running by June 2002. The current estimate is that the first reactor will be running in August 2003. The government is considering pulling the plug on some of the others. Meanwhile, the government has already spent $1.2 billion and counting on just one reactor and some common service systems for the other three reactors. The government refuses to even estimate the final cost. The failed Pickering A restart is now the leading factor that has Ontario facing a significant risk of rolling blackouts this summer.

Tom Adams
Executive Director, Energy Probe

To read the Telegraph-Journal article Tom Adams is responding to, please see:


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