A Teaser from On Borrowed Time by Gregor Craigie
On Borrowed Time
Goose Lane Editions
Tsunamis can do more damage than the earthquakes that trigger them, but we know more about the land under our feet than the floor under the waves. The data discrepancy between land and sea is especially concerning right along the coast. The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy is a good example. In a licence-renewal hearing in 2017, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission considered all sorts of hazards that could conceivably cause trouble at Canada’s only nuclear plant on an ocean coastline, from meteor strikes to plane crashes to dam failures. Earthquake and tsunami hazards were also taken into account. A moderate earthquake, estimated as magnitude 5.9, shook St. Stephen, centred about ninety kilometres down the coast and at the border with Maine, in 1904. The nuclear facility is built only fourteen metres above the Bay of Fundy, which, as any New Brunswicker worth their salt will tell you, has the world’s highest tides. NB Power, the electric utility that owns Point Lepreau, insists the plant can endure a large earthquake and is high enough to withstand a tsunami. Nuclear critics are skeptical: fourteen metres is roughly the same height as the tsunami wave that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant. NB Power argues the Bay of Fundy is more protected than the open coast, because Nova Scotia and Sable Island will act as natural breakwaters and protect the bay from a tsunami’s worst effects. But Ronald Babin, a Université de Moncton social scientist and nuclear critic, notes that Japanese nuclear officials believed Fukushima was safe, too.
–Excerpted from On Borrowed Time by Gregor Craigie. © by Gregor Craigie. Published by Goose Lane Editions. gooselane.com