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Some, but not all, First Nations support small nuclear reactors in New Brunswick

Moltex CEO says company has full support of all 15 First Nations in N.B. to develop SMRs

Jennifer Sweet · CBC News  Feb 15, 2023

Companies trying to develop small modular nuclear reactors in New Brunswick are getting some support from an unlikely source.

An energy crisis is looming large, and SMRs have better potential than renewables in the short term, said Chief Terry Richardson of Pabineau First Nation, near Bathurst.

Richardson said he sees nuclear power as consistent with his cultural values.

“As First Nations, we are stewards of the land. Well, when we look at nuclear technology, it’s not a carbon emitter. So it’s not going to cause a problem. It’s going to actually solve the problem of carbon.

“If we don’t do something, we all know what’s happening with climate change.”

Pabineau has signed memoranda of understanding to work with two companies that have SMR projects under way at Point Lepreau — Moltex and ARC, said Richardson.

He describes the MOUs as “non-contractual, binding documents” that state a willingness to work together on development.

Details of exactly how his community and potentially other First Nations in the province may take part in SMR projects have yet to be negotiated, said Richardson.

“There’s going to be an opportunity to be involved on the equity side and that’s where we have to sit down and talk and discuss it and see where we’re going to go.”

After the initial development at Lepreau, ARC is talking about installing more SMRs in Belledune, Richardson noted, which could mean job opportunities in northern New Brunswick.

He also likes that Moltex is looking at reusing spent fuel rods, which it says would reduce the amount of toxic nuclear waste that already exists.

Study looks at SMR waste

A Canadian peer-reviewed study that came out last summer found the volume of waste from SMRs would be between double and 30 fold that from a typical reactor and that its chemical complexity would make it more difficult to manage.

Richardson said he is satisfied that plans are in place to deal with nuclear waste and added that maybe in the future there will be a way to recycle it…..

Moltex CEO Rory O’Sullivan told the legislative committee Wednesday that his company has the support of all 15 First Nations in the province to develop SMRs. 

However, some other Indigenous leaders addressed the committee who have concerns about the SMR plans and the public investment in development.

Chief Hugh Akagi represents the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, which doesn’t have official recognition as a First Nation in Canada.


February 15, 2023 - Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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