Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Lepreau re-start should wait until earthquake studies complete - CCNB

CCNB Action is calling on NB Power to delay the re-start of its nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau until the public utility has completed its earthquake hazards studies and made them public.

On February 17th, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) renewed NB Power's license to operate the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant and granted permission to re-start its nuclear reactor.  As a condition of its decision, the CNSC ordered NB Power to carry out site specific seismic hazard assessments and make them available to the public.  NB Power's license renewal application relied on earthquake assessments that were decades old.

CCNB's Saint John Chapter argued at the regulatory hearings in December that  Point Lepreau could not withstand a serious earthquake in the area, a point of controversy when Point Lepreau was originally constructed.

"We brought forward evidence from Ken Burke, a seismologist and expert on the history of earthquakes in New Brunswick that the next significant earthquake in southern New Brunswick would be in the Passamaquoddy Bay region," said Sharon Murphy, a CCNB Director who chairs the organization's Saint John chapter.  "We used NB Power's own data to demonstrate that Point Lepreau is not adequately designed to withstand tremors from a significant earthquake in the Passamaquoddy Bay region," she said.
CCNB's intervention before the CNSC convince  the nuclear regulator to require NB Power to carry out new site-specific seismic assessments. 
"It makes no sense to re-start the nuclear reactor until the earthquake assessments are completed and released to the public,"  said Murphy.  "We are asking NB Power to err on the side of caution and delay the re-start of the nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau until they have assessed the earthquake risks," she said.