Point Lepreau lawsuits may finally go to trial this year

A pair of multi-million dollar lawsuits involving NB Power, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and seven insurance companies over who should pay for mistakes and delays during the refurbishment at Point Lepreau nuclear plant are taking longer than the refurbishment itself, but may finally be ready to go to trial later this year, court records show.

NB Power, AECL suing insurance companies over Lepreau refurbishment overruns

NB Power and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. are suing 7 insurance companies over cost overruns during the Point Lepreau refurbishment. (CBC)

A pair of multi-million dollar lawsuits involving NB Power, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and seven insurance companies over who should pay for mistakes and delays during the refurbishment at the Point Lepreau nuclear plant are taking longer than the refurbishment itself, but may finally be ready to go to trial later this year, court records show.

Last week, Saint John court clerk Amanda Evans sent a notice to AECL's Toronto lawyer, Paul Ivanoff, requesting an update on the case. Last year Ivanoff assured the court it would be ready to proceed this year.

"The Plaintiff expects to be in a position to enter the matter for trial in the spring of 2016 for a trial in either September 2016 or in Q4 of 2016," he wrote.

The Point Lepreau refurbishment went three years longer than planned and over $1 billion over budget.
AECL and NB Power are individually suing the same group of seven insurance companies to recover money from the troubled refurbishment of Point Lepreau, which took three years longer than expected and went more than $1 billion over budget.

NB Power is seeking $320 million plus interest and costs, while AECL is looking for $204 million.

Each lawsuit is separate but are proceeding through the courts together.

Insurance companies refused to pay

The insurance companies, all operating under the banner of Lloyd's Underwriting, are being sued because they refused to pay for damage to the reactor's outer shell, known as the calandria, when it was improperly polished using coarse wire brushes during the refurbishment.

The polishing caused microscopic scratching and when new tubes were fitted into the calandria the scratches led to large numbers of the tubes flunking critical air leak tests.

All 380 tubes had to be removed and replaced, a setback that cost the project 22 months and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The insurance companies refused to pay, instead blaming AECL's and NB Power's negligence for the delays. (CBC)
The insurance companies rejected claims the calandria had been "accidentally physically damaged" by the polishing mistake and instead blamed AECL and NB Power's negligence.

The lawsuits were filed four years ago in February and have generated enormous amounts of paperwork and legal bills.

AECL says all sides have produced 100,000 documents for inspection.

Last year NB Power disclosed at the Energy and Utilities Board it had paid its legal firm Stewart McKelvey more than $1.5 million during a 12 month period in 2013 and 2014, although it did not specify how much of that was specifically for the Lepreau lawsuit.