Why is NB Power hiding info about the ARC-100 nuclear project on the Bay of Fundy? Let’s find out with a federal impact assessment.

Summertime at the Bay of Fundy.

NB Power wants to limit public review of the ARC-100 nuclear experiment on the Bay of Fundy. They are hiding the real plans for the project. We need a federal impact assessment to put all the facts on the table.

Click here to write an instant support letter ! We need to show Minister Guilbeault that communities from across the country support impact assessment for this nuclear reactor on the Bay of Fundy!

Keep reading for more information and links to all the documents…

Four groups – the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, We the Nuclear Free North, Protect Our Waterways, and the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick – are asking federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to designate the ARC-100 project for a federal impact assessment. Read the full document HERE. (version française ICI.)

What’s at stake?

The ARC-100 is a first of its kind experimental nuclear reactor. NB Power wants to build it beside the Bay of Fundy, one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. The ARC-100 design is for what’s called a ‘fast breeder reactor.’ It will be cooled with liquid sodium metal. These kinds of reactors have never been successfully connected to a commercial electricity grid. Previous commercializing attempts in four countries – costing tens of billions of dollars – resulted in numerous fires. Liquid sodium metal burns or explodes when exposed to air or water.

The ARC-100 plans raise alarms for many of us, because they have never been shared with or reviewed by the public. For example, the hidden plan involves extracting plutonium from the used nuclear fuel. And the volatile sodium will be bonded with the reactor’s high-level radioactive waste, and there are no methods to remove it at commercial scale. Ontario communities and First Nations do not want the experimental used fuel from New Brunswick to be dumped to a proposed deep geological repository in Ontario. In other countries, sodium-bonded fuel has exploded decades after it was buried, distributing radioactive particles onto nearby lands.

A provincial assessment in New Brunswick cannot review the project’s most controversial aspects. Not having a federal impact assessment erodes public involvement and oversight of the project. There will be no full reckoning of the alternatives to the energy project and its impacts to Indigenous, social, economic and environmental values and rights.

We prepared a memo outlining some of the concerns about the ARC-100 nuclear reactor that we’re raising in the impact assessment request. Read or download it HERE.

Read an article published by the NB Media Co-op, “Shouldn’t a new and experimental nuclear reactor for New Brunswick deserve a federal impact assessment?” HERE.

It’s obvious the project needs a federal impact assessment. Why do we need to ask for one?

Pressure from the nuclear industry lobby changed our federal environmental assessment law in 2019, exempting proposed nuclear projects like the ARC-100 from undergoing a full environmental impact assessment (IA). 

We’re asking the federal government to order an impact assessment for this nuclear experiment which could have profound and lasting impacts on the Bay of Fundy, Indigenous rights, coastal communities and the marine life the Bay supports as well as the site in Ontario on Indigenous territory for the proposed deep geological repository for the used nuclear fuel.

A provincial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has a limited scope. In contrast, a federal IA is a “look before you leap” process allowing the public to weigh in on alternatives to the project, risks emanating from all stages of the project (from building to eventual decommissioning and oversight of the radioactive materials) and the project’s cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts. 

Read our FAQ on impact assessments (IA) HERE [version française ICI]

Wasn’t a previous request denied for a federal impact assessment?

Yes, in 2022, the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) requested a federal Impact Assessment for both proposed reactors in the “SMR Demonstration Project” at Point Lepreau on the Bay of Fundy. The Minister denied that request near the end of December. You can read the 2022 request HERE (version française ICI).

However since CRED-NB filed that request last July, new information has come to light from an Access to Information request and a new research report from the US that raises concerning new information about the ARC-100 project. This is information that should have been looked at earlier but was not, in part because NB Power did not disclose it at the time. That’s why the four groups filed a new request: to get all the facts on the table where they can be reviewed by the public.

How can you support our effort?

If you have a few minutes, we would really appreciate if you write a letter, using THIS TEMPLATE as an example [version française ICI]. If you’re in a hurry, click on the action tool link below to send a form letter of support to Minister Guilbeault. Or do both! Please do it as soon as you can! We need to show Minister Guilbeault that communities from across the country support impact assessment for this nuclear reactor on the Bay of Fundy!

Click here to use the action tool (provided by our friends the OCAA) to support our request for a federal impact assessment for the proposed ARC-100 nuclear reactor.

Your message will be sent to Environment Minister Guilbeault, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, other relevant members of the Cabinet, your MP and leaders of the federal opposition parties.

Thank you for your support, and please share this information with your networks!