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Environmentalists Say Small Nuclear Reactors Aren’t A Climate Change Solution

SAINT JOHN – Environmentalists in Saint John are raising concerns over the province’s investments in small modular reactors.

Two companies are hoping to develop the new nuclear fission technology at Point Lepreau.

But David Thompson of Leap4ward says the technology is too new and won’t be implemented soon enough to have an impact on climate change.

Thompson says the province shouldn’t be investing in “speculative technology” and should instead be focusing renewable energy sources that have been proven to work in New Brunswick, such as wind, solar and hydro.

“The renewable sources of energy that we’ve talked about to the premier, some of them can be put in place and operating in maybe three, three and a half years,” he said.

Thompson says in comparison, SMRs could take 10 years or more to perfect.

“We haven’t got 10 years for something that might work, and another 10 years to build it after it’s proven to work, or even longer than that to put in place enough of it so that it’ll make some kind of difference,” he said.

“At the end of it we still have the problem of nuclear waste and we will have the problem of radiation.”

Interest in SMR and nuclear energy has been growing in recent months as a green energy alternative, but the modular reactor technology is still in the very early stages.

Thompson says climate change is a growing issue and more needs to be done sooner rather than later.

“Climate change can’t wait for something that might work, and what if it doesn’t work? What if it isn’t economically feasible after 10 years?” he said.

He says not only have wind, solar, and hydro been proven to work, but they’re low-cost and easy to implement.

Thompson has sent a letter to Premier Blaine Higgs outlining his concerns and asking him to pull funding from SMRs.

“We applaud him for the decision he made to cut all funding to the speculative Joi [Scientific] hydrogen fuel project, but we’re even more concerned about these companies who are getting government money—and attempting to get more—to build these modular reactors,” he said.

“By not putting renewable energy in place now in New Brunswick, we’re not doing the right thing. We need action on climate change now.”