A lot of what you read in the papers about the so-called ‘nuclear renaissance’ is spin.
If a government minister says she or he would consider building a nuclear reactor, the nuclear lobby’s spin doctors somehow manage to turn such a non-committal statement into a headline proclaiming “Province to Build Reactor.”
Take New Brunswick. When the Shawn Graham was elected Premier of New Brunswick, his government started talking about building a second reactor at Point Lepreau.
(It is worth noting that Premier Graham is closely connected to the nuclear industry. He worked for five years in the 1990s as the executive assistant to his dad, Alan Graham, who, at the time, was the Energy Minister of New Brunswick (responsible for the Point Lepreau nuclear station). His dad has since been appointed a Commissioner to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.)
Lots of headlines followed in New Brunswick, and across Canada, that New Brunswick was going nuclear.
The New Brunswick Telegraph’s Rob Linke reports in today’s paper, however, that, despite all the hype about New Brunswick buying a CANDU reactor, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) fails to mention such a contract in its five year business plan.
Why? Well, it’s probably because the provincial government has said that for a second reactor to be built the private sector will need to take on all economic risks. Otherwise put, it won’t happen. The nuclear industry (and AECL) will never assume the full economic or environmental risks of building a reactor.
If the New Brunswick government sticks to its word and the private sector must assume the risks of building Lepreau II, it won’t happen.
This doesn’t stop the nuclear lobby, however, from getting some good press in the meantime.