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Opposition mounts against 25-year licence extension request from New Brunswick nuclear plant with no long-term waste disposal plan

By Cloe Logan National Observer May 20th 2022      Sitting on the Bay of Fundy, one of the seven wonders of North America, is the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. New Brunswick Power hopes it will remain there a good long time: the company has asked for an unprecedented 25-year licence extension, prompting pushback during a recent round of public hearings.

Coming into operation in the 1980s, the station is one of four in Canada and the only nuclear power station outside of Ontario. Consisting of a singular CANDU reactor, a heavy-water reactor that generates power, Point Lepreau’s current licence renewal is reaching a close, so the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is required to grant a new one. The current term is five years, as was the one before that.

The request to operate until 2047 has raised concerns from numerous people, who say a shorter licence should be granted instead, and during that time, NB Power should focus on a decommissioning plan. So far, the CNSC has suggested a 20-year extension but will release its final decision before June 30, when the current licence expires. If the commission deems more information is needed, it could grant a short extension while deliberating, a spokesperson told Canada’s National Observer.

Many environmentalists oppose nuclear plants of any sort, insisting they stand in the way of cleaner and more sustainable renewable energy, such as wind. Although the CANDU reactor doesn’t directly produce carbon dioxide like oil or gas, the process produces harmful nuclear waste, and opponents say the cost and risk make it a poor solution to the climate crisis.

The concern around waste is top of mind for one Indigenous community — the Passamaquoddy, whose traditional territory includes Point Lepreau where the nuclear reactor is sited. Chief Hugh Akagi said at a public hearing in Saint John last week that a three-year extension would be more reasonable. As an intervenor through the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group (PRG), Akagi is deeply concerned about the nuclear waste resulting from the reactors. Nuclear waste is currently stored at Point Lepreau but will need to be moved elsewhere in the future. He notes there is no plan for long-term storage; the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is currently responsible for finding somewhere to bury the spent fuel but needs to convince a community to take on the responsibility.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe spans across New Brunswick and Maine’s borders and are a federally recognized group in the States but not in Canada. Although they don’t have First Nations status, the Passamoquoddy in New Brunswick have a government and have been seeking recognition for decades.The nation wasn’t consulted about storing nuclear waste on its land, which goes against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), the PRG stated. It pointed to Article 29.2, which says: “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”…………………………    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2022/05/20/news/opposition-against-25-year-licence-extension-request-nb-nuclear-plant

May 21, 2022 - Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues

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