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Conservation group calls for action after radioactive leak in N.B.

Between four to six litres of radioactive water has leaked from the Point Lepreau nuclear facility

FREDERICTON—A conservation group is calling on government officials to release more information about radioactive spill at Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant.

David Coon, policy director at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says there are too many unanswered questions about the spill Dec. 13 at the Point Lepreau nuclear facility.

“They need to release the actual information on the radiation levels and exposures that might have resulted in this case,” he said. “Simply giving us the volume of the spill doesn’t tell us anything.”

Earlier in the day, provincial Energy Minister Craig Leonard said four to six litres of radioactive heavy water was spilled.

He said the spill was cleaned up by staff and there are no health or environmental concerns.

“The radiation monitoring equipment is designed to sound an alarm immediately in response to even the smallest sign of radiation and that is what occurred,” Leonard said.

But Coon said the public needs to know more about what happened, such as whether the spill was the result of human error or if there are leaks.

Kathleen Duguay, a spokeswoman for NB Power, said the spill happened due to a leak.

“As the water is flowing through the system, there was a little leak out of a piece of equipment,” Duguay said.

The heavy water system was being refilled to restart the generating station, which has been undergoing a lengthy and expensive refit.

People were evacuated from the reactor building, but Duguay said there was no danger to staff.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick has opposed the refurbishment of the aging Candu-6 reactor at Point Lepreau, which is intended to extend the life of the reactor by another 25 to 30 years.

The refurbishment is already three years behind schedule and $1 billion over the original $1.4 billion budget.

And although the provincial government has asked Ottawa to cover the cost overruns, the federal government has yet to step in.

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