Saturday, July 30, 2005

New Brunswick nuclear power plant to get second life | N.B. nuclear power plant to get second life

In the end, the province decided to take the financial risk and move forward with the $1.4-billion overhaul.

Updated: Fri. Jul. 29 2005 11:44 PM ET

The aging New Brunswick Point Lepreau nuclear power plant that was set to be closed in 2008 will have its life extended.

The province has picked Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to carry out the refurbishment, which could keep the nuclear reactor operating for another 25 years.

A deal with Bruce Power was rejected because the company would have sold electricity back to N. B. Power. David Hay, the president of N.B. Power, told the Canadian Press the deal would have cost New Brunswick an additional $450 million.

The 22-year-old Lepreau plant is located near the city of Saint John, and gives the province 30 per cent of its power.

The plant has 700 workers, whose jobs would have been in jeopardy if the plant had closed.

Saint John Mayor Norm McFarlane told CTV News that the majority of the plant's employees live in the city and that the loss of the plant would have hurt the city.

Earlier this month, the federal government refused to pay for the plant's much-needed refurbishment, saying it would set a costly precedent.

Premier Bernard Lord had threatened that he would build a coal-burning plant in place of the nuclear reactor, if Ottawa refused to help pay for the refurbishment.

When federal officials denied the province funding, Lord said he would consider whether the province could pay for the refurbishment itself.

In the end, the province decided to take the financial risk and move forward with the $1.4-billion overhaul.

"We acknowledge that New Brunswick is taking on more risk than we had originally intended,'' Lord told a news conference Friday. "I think it's important for everyone to realize that.''

Steve Carson of Enterprise Saint John applauded the decision, saying it will fuel the economy of the area for decades to come.

Greenpeace, the environmental protection organization, had earlier applauded Ottawa's refusal to help fund the project.

"Point Lepreau should be replaced by green energy that is cleaner, cheaper and safer. Nuclear power leaves a deadly legacy of radioactive waste that is toxic for a million years," Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Canada, had said in a press release.

There are several other nuclear power plants in Canada that were built around the same time – about 25 years ago – that also need refurbishments. Three of them are in Ontario, and one in Quebec.


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