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Estevan, Elbow regions identified as potential nuclear reactor sites: SaskPower

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The Estevan and Elbow, Sask. areas have been identified as two future potential sites for small modular reactors (SMR), according to a news release from SaskPower.

“The Estevan study area includes the areas around Boundary/Rafferty Dam and around the Grant Devine Dam. The Elbow study area encompasses the area around Lake Diefenbaker, from Gardiner Dam to the Diefenbaker Dam,” the release said.

SaskPower said the two areas gained interest due to their proximity to a suitable water supply, existing power infrastructure, workforce, nuclear regulations and standards and learnings from past generation siting projects.

“Two areas rose to the top in terms of technical suitability and the lowest regulatory risk,” said Rupen Pandya, SaskPower’s president.

“Both study areas are close to a suitable body of water, existing transmission infrastructure and a population centre to support workforce.”

SaskPower is considering construction of a 300 megawatt power plant using small nuclear reactor technology. The cost would be about $4 billion, a step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A final decision on whether to build an SMR in Saskatchewan won’t be made until 2029. However, to keep nuclear power a realistic option for Saskatchewan in the future, SaskPower said significant planning and regulatory work must be completed in the present time.

SaskPower expects to choose one of the two sites by the end of 2024 and then five more years to evaluate the feasibility. The NDP opposition said consultation will be key.

“This is a huge project as we talked about as well as potentially a huge economic boon for communities and there is significant public consultation that needs to be done,” said Aleana Young, NDP MLA.

SaskPower also said that discussions and formal consultations with Indigenous Peoples who are rights holders in the two selected areas is underway.

“Understanding perspectives and obtaining feedback is a priority for SaskPower, and the utility is committed to engaging with Saskatchewan throughout this project,” the utility said in a release.

Small modular reactors use fission to create heat which then generates energy. 

They are designed to be smaller than a traditional reactor, but still vary in size and the amount of power they produce.

Estevan is located about 200 kilometres southeast of Regina, while Elbow is about 140 kilometres south of Saskatoon.

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