Hydro-Quebec to shut Gentilly-2 nuclear plant in December
Published Wednesday, October 3, 2012 9:22PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 4, 2012 8:41AM EDT
Hydro-Quebec has confirmed it will close the Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor by the end of the year.
The decision comes four years after the electric company came up with plans to refurbish the reactor at an estimated cost of between $2 and 3 billion.
That cost estimate to refurbish the province’s only nuclear reactor proved to be too low based on a new report of other similar refit projects, said Chief Executive Officer and President of Hydro-Québec Thierry Vandal Wednesday.
“We are tracking similar projects that started in New Brunswick and in South Korea, and what has come out of these other projects are significant cost overruns, and significant cost increases,” he said at a press conference in Quebec City Wednesday. “What we've seen since 2008 is an increase in the cost of refurbishing project at the same time as we've seen a decline over the overall value of electricity and in surrounding markets.”
Vandal now believes the best option is to close the plant, a 50-year process that will cost $1.8 billion and require a certain expertise.
The report comes at the same time as the newly elected Parti Quebecois government has followed through on an election promise to close the plant, a decision that draw cheers from environmental activists, but scrutiny from some residents of Becancour, where the reactor is located.
Vandal said the report took years to create and came out now because it was finished, and not because of the PQ announcement.
Some 800 employees of the plant will be out of work due to the plant closure. Hydro-Quebec said those nearing retirement will have the opportunity to do so, while Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet said the PQ government will help the remaining employees.
“We will be there to listen. We know that it's a big decision,” she said. “We will work with Hydro Quebec to ensure that employees who have the expertise will be able to do the decommissioning at the nuclear power plant.”
The Gentilly 2 nuclear power plant is due for a $2.2 billion renewal, money the PQ and other opponents would rather see used to develop renewable energy technologies.