October 3, 2012
Quebec's only nuclear plant to close by December
By QMI Agency
QUEBEC CITY — Gentilly-2, Quebec's only nuclear power plant and one of five in Canada, will close by December, affecting 736 workers.
Quebec's Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet told a news conference that it would be too expensive to refit the plant, located 150 km northeast of Montreal.
She says Hydro-Quebec recommended the 49-year-old facility be shut down.
The utility says dismantling the plant would cost $1.8 billion, compared with $4 billion to upgrade the facility.
"We have to take lessons learned by extra costs ... during the refit of Point Lepreau, in New Brunswick ... and the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe," the minister said, referring to New Brunswick's problem-plagued plant and a recent Japanese nuclear disaster.
Some Gentilly-2 workers will be offered retirement packages while others will be transferred to other departments, the government says.
Labour unions had vigorously opposed the closure, suggested by the Parti Quebecois when the party won the Sept. 4 election.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission renewed Gentilly-2's five-year operating licence last year.
But the commission added that Hydro-Quebec must shut down the plant for refurbishment no later than Dec. 31 "and obtain approval from the commission before reloading fuel in the reactor after the refurbishment."
Ouellet said Quebec's energy surplus makes a refit unnecessary.
The Parti Quebecois government said it will create a $200-million economic development fund aimed at offsetting the closure.
Gentilly-2, built in 1963, was to reach the end of its lifespan in 2014.
Canada's four other nuclear power plants are located in Pickering, Darlington and Kincardine in Ontario, and another near St. John, N.B.