The core will definitely not melt down
April 21, 2012
Reply to the letter of Michel Duguay entitled “Definitely, the core will melt” published in the Courrier Sud on April 13, 2012
I feel the need to respond to a letter from one of your readers, Michel Duguay (en français seulement), who accuses me of “providing incorrect information.” Mr. Duguay continues to persist in disseminating erroneous information about the seismic resistance of the Point Lepreau Generating Station, located in New Brunswick, and its sister reactor, Gentilly-2.
Contrary to Mr. Duguay’s assertions, the core of the reactor would definitely not melt down if an earthquake of 6.2 on the Richter scale occurred near either plant. Nuclear facilities were built to withstand earthquakes of this magnitude; new analyses conducted as part of rehabilitation projects have confirmed this fact.
For no apparent reason, Mr. Duguay insists on changing the remarks made during a public hearing by Greg Rzentkowski, a seasoned specialist and part of my team, regarding the seismic resistance of the Point Lepreau Plant. Mr. Rzentkowski was answering a highly hypothetical question asked by the Chair of the Commission on the consequences of a powerful earthquake on the core of the reactor. In formulating his response, Mr. Rzentkowski made it clear he was referring to the unlikely event of an earthquake similar to Fukushima. I invite those interested to read the transcript of the hearing (pp. 214-215 (PDF)), which is available on our Web site.
Shortly after the accident at Fukushima, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission confirmed the safe operation of Canadian nuclear power plants and their ability to withstand external hazards. I would also like to inform your readers that the CNSC has introduced a comprehensive action plan to further improve the safety of these facilities taking into consideration all lessons learned from the Fukushima event. Going forward, Canadian operators will have offsite equipment to guarantee the safe shutdown of the reactors, no matter how serious the accident. A public meeting of the Commission on the action plan will be held on May 3.
Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission