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[cdn-nucl-l] N.B. MP to vote against bill helpful to Point Lepreau
Posted New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal in November 5, 2002 and at:
N.B. MP to vote against bill helpful to Point Lepreau
BY RICHARD ROIK
OTTAWA - A New Brunswick Liberal MP is challenging his own government
over a bill that could make it easier for private investors to help
refurbish the Point Lepreau nuclear power station.
Charles Hubbard has already voted against Bill C-4 at second reading and
he is vowing to do so again as he questions letting money lenders off
the hook in the event of a nuclear accident or cleanup.
"It's my firm conviction that nuclear plants (and) these major nuclear
activities should be owned by the provinces," Mr. Hubbard said in an
interview Monday. "They can't be put out to private interests that may
be in a good economic position this week, but maybe next year are having
Bill C-4 would change only seven words in the Nuclear Safety and Control
Act, but it would absolve private investors of potential environmental
liabilities by limiting the exposure solely to anyone who has
"management and control of" the affected lands.
It's a significant change given that the nuclear industry has long
complained that it is the only energy sector faced with such a liability
issue when trying to court private capital.
Jeffrey Carleton, a spokesman with NB Power, confirmed Monday the
utility's nuclear division has already identified the issue as a
potential stumbling block to the province's plan to solicit investors.
"The passage of the bill would certainly be of some value to our
situation here," Mr. Carleton said.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal has already defended
the bill as a way to encourage increased private-sector partnership in
"Companies with nuclear operations need access to the same financial
instruments available to other companies," Mr. Dhaliwal told the House
of Commons last month.
But environmentalists question the bill that comes as owners of nuclear
reactors already enjoy the protection of limited liability under
"This is one step further along, which is saying we're not only going to
limit the liability of the owners to a pittance, but we are going to
remove any liability from investors," said David Coon, policy director
with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
"One has to ask why the federal government is affording such special
protection to the nuclear power industry and placing the public at risk
of limited financial recourse in the event of damage from an accident.
"What are you supposed to do in the event of an accident, sue the
federal government?" Mr. Coon added.
Mr. Hubbard said there are also long-term consequences in the storage of
spent nuclear fuel.
"It's not just a today and tomorrow issue," Mr. Hubbard said.
"Regardless of any tragedy or any great misfortune, the long-term
implications deal with the nuclear waste problem."
He said a case in point is a recent news report suggesting the parent
company of Bruce Power, which privately operates the Bruce nuclear power
plant in Ontario, is teetering on bankruptcy.
"We've had a lot of companies that have looked very good and have been
involved in major activities and they walk away," Mr. Hubbard said, "and
the government of Canada is left with the cleanup costs."
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