Report says Mactaquac Power Station in trouble

New Brunswick's largest generating station at Mactaquac may have to be closed 55 years ahead of schedule, according to a study prepared for NB Power and obtained by CBC Television News.

The Mactaquac Dam and hydro electric generating station was built in the mid 1960's and was scheduled to operate for a century. But according to a report delivered to NB Power last fall by a panel of international engineering experts, the structure has deteriorated rapidly and may not last even half of its expected life.

Mactaquac has been plagued by problems almost since its completion. Concrete in the structure has been growing steadily, causing the dam to expand and crack.

Jim Brogan, an NBPower General Manager, says it's caused by a chemical reaction.

Concrete expert Webb Langley, who has worked on Hibernia and the Confederation Bridge, says the problem is significant.

N.B Power has had to face facts. The problem can't be overcome so the generating station will have to be shut down as early as 2013, according to the experts, 55 years ahead of schedule.

It's a huge operational decision and news to N.B Power critics such as lawyer Rod Gillis.

What it will cost and when it will show up on the utility's accounts, no one is saying.