CNSC response to the article Point Lepreau : attention, danger! published on May 20, 2011 in LAcadie Nouvelle
To the Editor-in-Chief:
I would like to respond to the article “Point Lepreau : attention, danger !”, which claims that the Point Lepreau nuclear plant is a major threat to New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy.
Point Lepreau is a robust plant, built and operated to withstand natural phenomena and outside attacks that have the potential to cause major damage, such as floods, hurricanes, high-magnitude earthquakes and terrorist attacks. The reactor is designed to shut down quickly and automatically in any conditions that may pose a risk.
CANDU plants such as the New Brunswick plant are equipped with reliable security systems. System features include redundant emergency shutdown systems, thick enclosures and reactor core cooling that does not require electrical power.
The current plant refurbishment involves additional safety systems, including the addition of hydrogen recombiners, which ensure that the plant is equipped in a manner that exceeds international best practices.
Mr. Duguay, who is quoted several times in the article, is trying to spread unfounded fears by claiming that Ontario plants are dumping large quantities of radioactive material into the Great Lakes. In fact, there is a minimal amount of discharge, and it has never been a significant threat to the public or the environment.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) strictly monitors and controls nuclear plant discharge. Accidental spills of radioactive material, however small, are reported to our organization and are subject to public examination at open meetings.
Following the example of other nuclear regulatory organizations in the world, though we are certain that Canadian plants operate safety, the CNSC is conducting a thorough examination of the safety of the facilities that it monitors.
This examination will help us make sure that the lessons learned from the Fukushima incident are applied to the activities at the various nuclear sites across the country.
Following the examination, operators will be required to take all measures deemed necessary by the CNSC to continue protecting the public and the environment.
New Bruswick Power has already taken all immediate actions requested by the CNSC, which were specified in a letter sent by the CNSC on March 17, 2011. New Bruswick Power continues to implement the necessary long-term measures.
Your readers can rest assured that the CNSC would never grant a permit to an applicant if it had doubts about the safety of its facilities. Readers can also visit the CNSC Web site (nuclearsafety.gc.ca) to learn more about the safe operation of nuclear facilities in Canada.
Ramzi Jammal, Executive Vice-President
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission