The sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to SNC-Lavalin should not affect the troubled refurbishment project at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, Energy Minister Craig Leonard said Tuesday.

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Energy Minister Craig Leonard said the sale of AECL should not impact the province's fight for compensation over Point Lepreau's cost overruns. ((CBC))

The federal Conservative government is anticipated to announce the sale, that would include the Candu reactor business but not the Chalk River, Ont., nuclear reactor unit that makes medical isotopes and does research.

A sale announcement could come as early as this week, although final details are still being worked out.

AECL designed the Point Lepreau nuclear plant and is now refurbishing the only nuclear reactor in Atlantic Canada.

The refurbishment project was supposed to be finished in October 2009, but a series of AECL delays has pushed the timeline back until fall 2012.

Leonard said he still plans to pursue compensation from Ottawa for delays on the project.

"That obligation doesn't go away if there's a transaction between AECL and SNC," Leonard said.

"Certainly, the federal government we feel are responsible, that there is an obligation there for compensation for New Brunswickers and that's not going to go away by any sale of AECL to any entity."

Leonard said he's not surprised by news of the imminent deal considering the federal government has been trying to get out of the nuclear business since 2009.

The delays refurbishing the Lepreau reactor are costing about a million dollars a day for replacement power.

Leonard has said the New Brunswick government expects full compensation for the cost overruns.

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The Point Lepreau refurbishment project was supposed to be completed in 2009, it has been delayed until 2012.

However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said the federal government would only pay the penalties outlined in the refurbishment agreements.

Requests for comment by AECL from CBC News regarding the proposed sale were not returned on Tuesday.

Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin is the sole remaining bidder in a process that saw Bruce Power walk away in January.

AECL has had a troubled decade. The supply chain that supports it has been laying off workers, as sales and profits dwindled.