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Province backs Point Lepreau as N.B. site for small modular nuclear reactors

Officials push Point Lepreau as home for N.B. small modular nuclear reactor
WATCH: Officials say Point Lepreau is the perfect footprint to host small modular nuclear reactors. Andrew Cromwell reports.

The New Brunswick government has thrown another level of support behind the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology in the province.

The news come after the province invested $10 million in the two companies looking to advance the technology in the province and just a week after New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on developing SMR technology.

READ MORE: Ontario, Saskatchewan, N.B. premiers to announce nuclear reactor deal

ARC Nuclear Canada, one of two companies looking to build SMRs in New Brunswick, recently completed Phase 1 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s vendor design review.

The province feels the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is an obvious choice should the company make it all the way to the construction phase.

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Conservative Premiers Ford, Moe, Higgs to consider implementing new nuclear reactor technology

“The footprint … has the track record as it relates to generating nuclear electricity, although this is a slightly different technology,” New Brunswick Energy Minister Mike Holland said.

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“That’s the key area, and it makes the most sense to be the footprint for where we go forward with SMR technology in the future here in New Brunswick.”

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READ MORE: New Brunswick Greens skeptical of small modular reactor memorandum of understanding

ARC Nuclear Canada’s Norman Sawyer says as his company looks to the feds for financial support, his company has had significant private-sector backing.

“For every $1 the government has put in, we’ve got $3 in private investment,” Sawyer said.

“We also now believe that when the federal government invests into our company, we’ll even get more.”

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ARC Nuclear Canada is hoping for approval from the federal Strategic Innovation Fund as it moves forward in advancing the technology.

While nuclear power doesn’t enjoy universal support in New Brunswick, at least one former opponent of nuclear energy has changed his mind and feels the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is best to ensure a safe product.

“I can assure you nothing is going to pass [the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission] unless it’s safe, so the question of whether or not this is going to be safe is not one that I lay awake at night worrying about,” explained Gordon Dalzell, an environmentalist in Saint John.

READ MORE: Premiers Moe, Ford, Higgs to collaborate on development of nuclear reactors in Canada

Meanwhile, Holland said he’s been told the industry could create tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs if successful.

If all goes according to plan, the first SMR is expected to be up and running by 2028.

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