Deliberations begin on Lepreau's bid for 25-year renewal

·2 min read
Three days of public hearings on the future of the Point Lepreau Generating Station wrapped up Thursday in Saint John. (Graham Thompson/CBC News - image credit)
Three days of public hearings on the future of the Point Lepreau Generating Station wrapped up Thursday in Saint John. (Graham Thompson/CBC News - image credit)

N.B. Power now has to wait for a verdict on the Point Lepreau generating station.

The utility is asking Canada's nuclear regulator to renew the operating licence on its nuclear power plant for another 25 years.

Three days of public hearings on that application concluded in Saint John on Thursday afternoon and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has started to deliberate.

If the Commission is satisfied with the information received, it will issue a summary decision before June 30, when Lepreau's current licence expires.

A detailed record of the decision will come out at a later date.

The commissioners have a lot to consider, including some 200 written submissions.

They also managed to hear more than 40 oral presentations on a schedule that ran all day and into the early evenings.

Speakers included citizens and community groups, Indigenous organizations, academics, labour unions, and industry experts.

Among the critics, a recurring theme emerged.

Opponents see the licence hearing as a critical opportunity for the public to get information and be heard by the licensee and the commission.

If Lepreau's locked in for a quarter-century, some opponents fear, that's how long the public will be locked out.

Graham Thompson/CBC News
Graham Thompson/CBC News

"We heard some feedback … some challenges in the interventions that they think we should have a five-year licence vs. twenty-five," acknowledged Jason Nouwens, N.B. Power's director of regulatory and external affairs.

But Nouwens says the utility has committed to keeping its door open.

Already, he said N.B. Power has opened up dialogues with Indigenous groups and community groups and is actively looking for more public engagement.

"We're more than happy to sit down with anybody and show them the material we have and actually have a face-to-face conversation with them to further understand their concerns," he said.

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