FREDERICTON – An environmental group is demanding NB Power and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission publicize the results of their inspection of the reactor housing at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.
“There’s no question the inspection will be thorough and comprehensive,” said David Coon, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
“The question in our mind is will they release the results publicly?”
Coon said it’s a matter of maintaining public confidence in the safety of the facility.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has now completely dismantled the nuclear reactor allowing for the interior’s first inspection.
Officials are trying to determine whether the welds in the housing, also known as the calandria, are in good enough shape to allow another 25 years of operation.
“These welds have to be in excellent condition, and if there is any question whatsoever then they need to err on the side of caution and call a stop to it,” Coon said Wednesday.
NB Power spokeswoman Heather MacLean said safety has been a top priority at Point Lepreau and will continue to be in the future.
She said the utility will keep the public informed.
“This is another milestone we will be talking about once we have the information, and of course this is still very, very early into the inspection stage as we won’t have the results until we’re into September,” she said.
MacLean explained once the inspection is complete, the results will be checked and subjected to a peer review.
Coon noted that a former power utility executive told public hearings into the refurbishment of the plant that the discovery of faults could seriously impede renewal work, already seven months behind schedule.
The calandria shell is designed to contain the enormous amount of radiation created during nuclear fission.
MacLean couldn’t say how detailed their report to the public will be, but added that anything submitted by the utility to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is public information.
The first refurbishment of a Candu-6 unit is intended to extend the life of Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear reactor by 25 years.
The project was originally expected to cost $1.4 billion and was supposed to have the reactor back online by September.
However, the removal of radioactive tubes took much longer than expected.
The province is paying about $1 million a day for replacement power while Lepreau is shut down.
Last week, Energy Minister Jack Keir estimated the delay could cost ratepayers an additional $150 million.