Safety of Point Lepreau plant called into question
The Point Lepreau nuclear station is seen in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, CNB
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 7:20PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013 7:21PM AST
New Brunswick’s Conservation Council claims an earthquake is 40 times more likely to cause a disaster at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant than the public utility would suggest.
But NB Power says their math is bad and the statement is flat out wrong, as well as dangerous.
“I think they took the statistics and data they saw and they wanted to use it to their particular agenda,” says Brent Staeben of NB Power.
One thing that can’t be denied is that seismic activity does happen around the region’s only nuclear plant.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is doing an assessment of the earthquake risk at Point Lepreau. A final report won’t be completed until 2014 but preliminary numbers are out.
“They’ve grossly underestimated the earthquake risk to Point Lepreau,” says Chris Rouse, a member of the Conservation Council of NB.
He says the organization has made their own calculations of the data, that Point Lepreau no longer meets national safety requirements and that the chances of a core meltdown are one in 7,825 years.
“It kind of sounds like a lot but it’s not really,” says Rouse. “The annual probability of dying in a car crash is one in 6,000 years. There’s really a good chance of a severe accident happening here.”
NB Power is pushing back, saying the group took highly technical information and came up with conclusions that aren’t true and aren’t scientifically sound.
“We certainly know how they feel about nuclear power. We’ve had an ongoing dialogue with them,” says Staeben. “But then they start to try and undermine public confidence in this facility, undermine the public confidence in nuclear safety in Canada, we feel we need to step out.”
NB Power says preliminary numbers show Point Lepreau continues to either meet or exceed national standards, adding that upgrades were made just recently at the plant on seismic safety.
“The seismic risk was taken into consideration when Point Lepreau was built, again taken into consideration with specifications and improvements made when it was refurbished,” says Staeben.
But Rouse says the Conservation Council is standing behind its numbers.
“We really need to shut it down immediately before an accident does happen.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore