New Brunswick's Point Lepreau Nuclear Power Plant Reports Second Spill in Six Months

About 300 liters of radioactive heavy water spilled at New Brunswick Power's Point Lepreau plant on Monday, making it the second spill at the site in less than six months.

The spill occurred during a test when when a relief valve opened prematurely, according to spokesman Rod Eagles.

"Unfortunately, the amount of water was greater than what we expected and overflowed to the floor and the test was ceased immediately," he said in an interview Thursday.

Eagles said workers left the area immediately and did not show any signs of radioactivity exposure in later testing.

In December, a similar event occurred when four to six liters of radioactive heavy water spilled because of a leak at the plant. However, the company was quick to distinguish a difference between the two accidents.

"This event is fundamentally different than the event that occurred in December 2011," New Brunswick Power said in a statement. "There were no requirements to evacuate the reactor building as the spill occurred in a room that was designed to contain and collect heavy water."

Point Lepreau has been out of service since March 2008 for a major refurbishment and is scheduled to return to service this fall. The refurbishment is expected to extend the plant's lifetime by 25 years. However, the project is about three years behind schedule and $1 billion over the original $1.4-billion budget.

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