Study shows severe nuclear accident at Point Lepreau 40 times more likely than initially thought

For Immediate Release

On Friday, January 18, 2013, NB Power released the preliminary results of a study that showed that NB Power has grossly underestimated earthquake risk. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) ordered a new site specific seismic hazard study be completed as a result of CCNB’s intervention at the licensing hearings for Point Lepreau on December 2, 2011.

For refurbishment in 2007, the CNSC told NB Power to show that there was only a 1 in 10,000 years chance of core meltdown and a 1 in 100,000 years chance of a large release of radiation if earthquakes were added to its probabilistic safety analysis. In 2007, NB Power reported to the CNSC that the chances of core meltdown and a large radiation release at Point Lepreau from earthquakes were 1 in a million years. Using data from the new study, CCNB calculated that the chances of core meltdown are 1 in 7,825 years. For a large release of radiation, chances are 1 in 25,000 years, an increase of almost 40 times the original NB Power submission.

CCNB’s Chris Rouse is not surprised at the results. “Whether or not Point Lepreau is able to handle earthquakes has been a controversy ever since it was built. The lead seismic engineer quit stating that the regulator was downplaying the seismicity of Point Lepreau, and that he recommended not building it at that location. Recently, we found many errors in NB Power’s technical assessments that we reviewed as interveners in the licensing hearings. We hope this study will alert the CNSC as to how dangerous Pt Lepreau really is and hope they start doing their job and shut it down before something serious happens.”

New data warns us:

  • Pt Lepreau no longer meets internationally accepted safety goals, as stated at the time of licensing.
  • the chance of a severe accident with a large release of radiation (1 in 25,000 yrs) is 4x more likely than the regulator believed at the time of licensing (1 in 100,000 yrs)
  • Pt Lepreau is now one of the most dangerous reactors in North America

CCNB’s Saint John Fundy chapter chair, Sharon Murphy, stated her group’s concern. “We know they seriously underestimated the costs and the time it would take to refurbish. Now, this new study shows that the risks have also been underestimated. Science not only shows that the next significant regional earthquake will likely be near Pt Lepreau, it now is clearly showing that Pt Lepreau won’t survive the shaking.”


Backgrounder on this study

For more information contact:
Sharon Murphy 506-639-9929
Chris Rouse 506-650-0007

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