Doomsday scenarios: Point Lepreau passes tests via CBC News

NB Power has applied for a 5-year licence renewal from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Earthquakes, dam failures, shipping disasters, plane wrecks, tsunamis, even meteor strikes were evaluated and found unlikely to cause public safety problems at the Point Lepreau nuclear plant, its licensing hearing heard on Thursday.

“We’ve conducted a comprehensive safety analysis and it has shown the likelihood of a serious accident remains extremely low,” said Michael Hare, Point Lepreau’s station director.

NB Power has applied for a five-year licence renewal for the generating station from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, so a group of the utility’s top nuclear executives attended a commission hearing in Ottawa on Thursday to make their case for the plant in person.


Large earthquakes in past

Mullin said most of those threats were found to be too remote to worry about, but others have been studied in depth, including internal failures that can lead to fires or flooding inside the nuclear facility or a significant earthquake event, which he acknowledged is not as fanciful a danger as space debris.

“The investigation did find evidence of large earthquakes having occurred in the past,” said Mullin, who listed three in the Lepreau area in the last 13,000 years, including the most recent sometime during the last 1,200 years.

He said best estimates put the magnitude of those earthquakes at between 5.5 and 7.0 and centred within at least 30 kilometres of the plant.


Lepreau was built more than 30 years ago, but all nuclear plants were required to undergo safety reassessments in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that was the result of a tsunami in Japan in 2011.

Safety upgrades at Lepreau, including what the utility says is $100 million spent on firefighting improvements at the station over the past five years alone, have increased its ability to withstand a variety of unexpected events, said NB Power officials.

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