NB Power is refusing to explain why the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is not producing electricity for the province, six months after the reactor was put back together.
The nuclear refurbishment project has been beset by three years worth of delays. But the one deadline that has remained consistent is that the reactor would be back generating power for the province four months after the unit was reassembled.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. finished its share of the refurbishment six months ago but Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear reactor is still not fully producing power.
NB Power won't say why Point Lepreau hasn't been able to go online early since reconstruction of the plant finished two months ahead of schedule.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced last month that Point Lepreau could increase reactor power above 0.1 per cent of full power.
The utility still requires regulatory approval before upping reactor power above 35 per cent.
NB Power is continuing to run tests on the reactor as it increases power. The CNSC is also continuing to provide on-site inspections and reviews.
"In parallel, we will gradually increase reactor power to pre-determined levels as the team progresses throughout the final phases of restart, running up the turbines and synchronizing the generator to New Brunswick’s electricity grid," Paul Pasquet, site vice-president of NB Power Nuclear, said in an Aug. 28 statement.
3 years of delays
NB Power and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. teamed up on the refurbishment project in 2005. It was the first time AECL had refurbished a Candu-6 reactor.
In 2011, AECL finished the refurbishment of a Candu-6 reactor in Wolsong, South Korea, a project that was started after Point Lepreau.
The Point Lepreau refurbishment ran into a series of delays that caused the refurbishment project to pass its original 2009 restart date.
The main reason for the delay was the installation of the reactor’s calandria tubes.
Along with the three-year delay, the project is roughly $1 billion over budget.
The provincial government has said it is seeking financial compensation from the federal government for the cost overruns.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has consistently said the federal government would only pay its contractual obligations.
Earlier in 2012, NB Power and AECL started legal action against an insurance company for some of the costs related to the delayed refurbishment. NB Power is seeking $320 million in damages and AECL is after $204 million in damages.
NB Power and AECL allege their insurance policy with Lloyd's of London covers the reactor tubes that were damaged during the rebuild.
NB Power and AECL also claim that the insurer should pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs caused by delays. The insurance company denied a previous claim by NB Power and AECL last year.