Local nuclear expert Paul Thompson Receives Award for Industry Contributions
July 21 2020, 10:03 AM
Whether he’s presenting a safety case to the nuclear regulator, or showing kids how nuclear power is generated, Paul Thompson is in his element. Combine his extensive technical knowledge with his cheerful personality and great sense of humour, and you’ve got one of our region’s most trusted experts on nuclear power.
Over his 40 plus-year career, most of which at the Point Lepreau Generating Station (PLNGS), Paul has made important contributions, both technical and non-technical, to the nuclear industry. Respected by his peers for his passion for everything related to nuclear safety and nuclear asset management, Paul continues to be an invaluable part of the NB Power team.
He recently received the Harold A. Smith Outstanding Contribution Award by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) for his extensive contributions to the Canadian nuclear industry. The award highlighted his work involving nuclear power plant safety, plant life extension, and the development of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) here in New Brunswick.
“I am truly honoured to be recognized by my peers and am humbled when I look at current and past award recipients,” said Paul. “I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career to work in such a great industry at such a wonderful company. I’ve been able to work on exciting and interesting projects alongside so many amazing energy experts. As they say, it really is not work if you enjoy your job!”
Paul started his nuclear journey graduating from the Engineering Mathematics program at Queen's University, specializing in the fields of Thermal Sciences and Nuclear Engineering.
Paul has led many successful teams at NB Power, including Nuclear Safety, Regulatory Affairs, Emergency Preparedness, Security and Fire and Performance Improvement. A real team player, he has always found time to support other projects and working groups both within the company and the industry.
Paul has also been a regular point of contact with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission at hearings and meetings, has served as a Board Member for the CANDU Owners Group (COG), as well as a Board member for the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research - a research arm of the University of New Brunswick. He also remains an active member and contributor to the CNS, authoring and co-authoring several papers to assist his peers. He has also held the position of CNS President twice and has been involved with the organization of numerous conferences.
“Throughout my years at Lepreau, one of my main objectives has always been to ensure that our values of safety, quality, diversity and innovation are reflected in all aspects of nuclear in New Brunswick,” says Paul. “I believe that this is being demonstrated every day by the dedicated nuclear team at Point Lepreau. Collaboration, teamwork and the expertise of my peers all play a significant part in the successful operation of the station on a daily basis.”
Most recently, Paul was the Station’s Deputy Chief Nuclear Officer, prior to his retirement in 2019. Paul has remained a key part of the team as a Senior Strategic Advisor responsible for assessing the development of Advanced SMRs.
“I believe that nuclear energy has a key role to play in our vision of sustainable energy for future generations,” he indicated. “New Brunswick is well positioned to benefit from new opportunities thanks to the know-how of our people and the tremendous asset we have in Point Lepreau.”
Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, community members and nuclear peers for leadership, dedication, and passion for nuclear power.
More information on this year’s recipients is available in a joint news release issued in June.
All of us at NB Power would like to congratulate Paul on a remarkable career in the nuclear industry here in New Brunswick and this well-earned award.
Kathleen Duguay Receives National Award Recognizing her Contributions to Nuclear Education and Communication
July 7 2020, 11:44 AM
Ask anyone in the communities around the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station (PLNGS) who their go-to person is for questions about the plant, and 99% will point you to Kathleen Duguay.
As NB Power’s Manager of Community Affairs and Nuclear Regulatory Protocol, she is often the “face” of the Station and has fostered many important relationships with nearby residents, First Nations communities and stakeholders.
Kathleen was recently awarded with a national Education and Communication Award from the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) to recognize her outstanding career.
During her 32 years at NB Power, Kathleen has demonstrated a sustained and unwavering commitment to external education and communication about nuclear power and the operation of PLNGS. Her work has created and maintained the “social licence” for the generating station. Through Kathleen’s natural ability to actively listen and connect with people, she has put a friendly face on the nuclear community in New Brunswick.
This strong capacity for relationship building with a diversity of groups and individuals has allowed her to build trust and respect with various stakeholders and rightsholders at the local, provincial, national and international levels throughout the years including First Nations, special interest groups, the local community, the general public, workers, contractors, government, regulators and the media.
She is an industry leader in community relations who has cultivated deep roots throughout New Brunswick. By being transparent, trustworthy and accessible, Kathleen has developed lasting relationships with everyone from the lobster fishermen who work the waters near Point Lepreau to members of First Nation communities in all corners of the province.
A great example of her strong commitment to transparency and nuclear education is the establishment of a Community Relations Liaison Committees at Point Lepreau. The Committee has served as a vehicle for two-way information sharing in the communities around the Station for the past 25 years. The fact that Kathleen has co-chaired this Committee for more than two decades is an accomplishment on its own.
“Making sure our neighbours know what is happening at the Station is one of our most important jobs,” said Kathleen. “The relationships we have built with our Committee members are based on trust, respect and transparency. Members know that they can count on us for honest and timely updates on the things that matter to them. Through this Committee and other activities, we demonstrate our personal accountability to community engagement.”
Her work played an important role in bringing an outside perspective into the nuclear industry, to improve awareness and understanding, and to influence the way business is performed. As part of Point Lepreau’s public communication program, she developed various newsletters, brochures, school age-specific materials, plant updates and videos that showcase the power plant throughout its lifecycle, with a strong focus on the safety of workers, the community, and the environment.
For many years, Kathleen was the Media Relations Manager and the voice of NB Power, sharing the utility’s story with the local, provincial and national media. In that role, she also led communications and community relations efforts during the refurbishment of PLNGS.
She has managed community relations programs for other NB Power initiatives and projects across the province. Kathleen is no stranger to the inside of the nuclear plant where she began her career with Point Lepreau and has acted as a Radiation Protection Assistant and Human Performance Manager. She is also a seasoned member of the Station’s Emergency Response Incident Command Team.
A New Brunswicker through and through, Kathleen is also an active volunteer in her community, and she has brought her communication skills and love of New Brunswick to a host of important initiatives of benefit to her community.
Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, community members and nuclear peers for leadership, dedication, and passion for nuclear power. More information on this year’s recipients is available in a joint news release issued earlier this month.
All of us at NB Power would like to congratulate Kathleen on this well-deserved award and an exceptional career serving New Brunswickers, employees and the nuclear industry.
Gaëtan Thomas honoured with national award for contribution to advancement of nuclear energy
June 29 2020, 15:06 PM
NB Power’s former President and CEO, Gaëtan Thomas, was recently honoured with a national award to mark his leadership at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station and his contributions to positioning NB Power as a national leader in the development of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
He received the Ian McRae Award, which is presented every year by the Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA), to recognize the contribution of an individual to the general advancement of nuclear energy in Canada through management, administration, public service, medicine, communication and the arts.
“I have always believed that excellence starts with love and a passion for what you do,” said Mr. Thomas. “I am honoured to receive this award, but I want to acknowledge the hundreds of dedicated nuclear employees at NB Power who, through hard work, leadership and expertise, have helped position New Brunswick as a world leader in the nuclear industry. I have always been a proponent of teamwork because together everyone achieves more, and we have become a leader in our field because of the dedicated New Brunswickers who work hard every day towards achieving excellence.”
Throughout his 38-year career at NB Power, Mr. Thomas has advanced nuclear energy in many ways through different roles. Before his 10-year tenure as NB Power’s President and CEO, he held the role of Chief Nuclear Officer and Vice President Nuclear. In 2018, he was also appointed as the Chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO)-Atlanta Centre Regional Governing Board.
In recent years, he has been instrumental in positioning NB Power as a leader in the development and deployment of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). He has successfully worked with the New Brunswick Government to encourage investment in SMR technology.
“I am very proud of the work that has been accomplished during my time at NB Power to position New Brunswick as a leader in the future of nuclear energy in Canada as well as here in New Brunswick,” said Thomas. “Small modular reactors are the next generation of nuclear technology because of their potential to generate low-carbon electricity safely, reliably, and inexpensively. They offer great flexibility for a number of uses within the province’s power grid.”
A New Brunswicker through and through, Mr. Thomas was born and raised in the small northern New Brunswick community of Tilley Road. His first job at NB Power was at the Eel River High Voltage Direct Current Converter Station. Throughout the years, he became a leader known for engaging with staff at all levels of the organization, facilitating a culture of innovation and excellence and has always demonstrated well NB Power’s values of safety, quality, diversity and innovation.
He led his team through the completion of many major projects, including the Point Lepreau Refurbishment, extending the Station’s life by 30-plus years. In 2019, under Mr. Thomas’ leadership, Point Lepreau also achieved the highest industry standards as assessed by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO).
Point Lepreau and its employees continue to be part of the fabric of New Brunswick - living and working in communities around the province, while driving the economy and producing energy that supports day to day life in New Brunswick.
Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, community members and nuclear peers for leadership, dedication, and passion for nuclear power.
More information on this year’s recipients is available in a joint news release issued earlier this month.
All of us at NB Power would like to congratulate Mr. Thomas on this well-deserved award and an exceptional career serving customers and the industry.
High flying work aims to keep migratory birds safe
December 23 2019, 10:06 AM
It’s not every day you find yourself hovering hundreds of feet in the air, strapped to the side of a helicopter.
But for a group of NB Power powerline technicians, this has been part of their job for the past two weeks.
The task? Installing two types of bird diverters on 25 km of transmission lines stretching from Memramcook to Sackville, New Brunswick. The first diverter is yellow and coiled, and the technicians twist it onto 138 kV lines. The second type looks more like a small black and yellow tent, and it gets snapped onto the highest point on the larger 345 kV lines.
When migratory birds, like ospreys are flying near powerlines, these diverters help keep them safe by helping them see the powerlines easier. By installing these at the highest point, we can divert the birds higher up so they fly over these much taller lines.
It’s not an easy job. But the team are highly skilled and hyper focused on the task at hand. They’re harnessed in to keep them safe while attaching the diverters to the lines.
“It takes a bit of getting used to – especially the first five or 10 minutes … but after that you just go about your business,” says transmission powerline technician, Shawn MacKinnon.
The pilot uses a steady hand to keep the helicopter as still as possible for both the pilot and the powerline technician’s safety. The talent and precision of the pilot makes a big difference in how well the work goes, and in this case, the NB Power crew gave two thumbs up for Mike Maurice of Vortex Helicopters who was at the stick.
“One of the biggest surprises was the size of the skid we stand on. It is not much bigger than the sideboard you would find on a pick-up truck,” MacKinnon said. “But you get use to it. We were lucky in that it’s usually very windy on the Tantramar marshes, but not when we were there. And the downdraft from the rotors wasn’t bad at all. It couldn’t have gone much better.”
Want to see what this work looks like from the sky? Check out the video below.
Last week the team wrapped up installing 3,200 of these diverters in addition to inspecting and maintaining 28 transmission towers. Doing this work by air instead of land minimizes the impact to these wetland areas, while allowing the team to work quickly along the lines to install the diverters.
Other line technicians who worked on the project were Hunter Smith, Grant Donnelly and Jason McKellar. Supervisor Pat Daigle was pleased with the work and noted the crews saw bald eagles, golden eagles and osprey when they were on the job.
NB owners see bright future for electric vehicles
October 22 2019, 10:19 AM
Betty and Veronica are not rivals in the Burgess household.
Instead, they’re the peppy Chevrolet Bolt and Volt that take Bob and Darwin Burgess wherever they need to go.
Since taking the plunge and purchasing the first Chevrolet Volt in New Brunswick in 2012, you’d be hard pressed to find bigger cheerleaders for owning an EV.
After realizing they had only spent $1000 in gas after five years of driving their Volt, they doubled down their investment and brought their fully electric Bolt home in 2018.
These two enthusiasts take every opportunity to promote the benefits of electric vehicles and charging stations to other drivers as well as to business operators like car rentals, hotels and restaurants. Electric vehicles can play an important role in building a more sustainable energy future for New Brunswick- and passionate owners like Bob and Darwin are helping to lead that charge.
But they’re not alone.
Ellen Horsman, gets stopped a lot while charging up her Nissan Leaf at charging stations. When asked about her EV, her face lights up and her passion shines through as she talks about all the cool features her car offers, and shares her advice for picking the right car.
After 20 years driving her Saturn, the retired teacher from Moncton needed a new vehicle. That’s when her son came to her rescue with the gift of a fully electric Nissan Leaf.
“I had an interest in getting an electric vehicle (EV) and my son had good things to say about his experience. My environmental conscience told me it would be the right choice,” says Ellen.
She hopes by sharing her experience with others, she will encourage potential buyers to look at the total life cycle costs of EV ownership.
Fully electric cars don’t require oil changes, transmissions or exhaust systems. The average driver can save hundreds of dollars per year just on maintenance. And the fuel savings? The Burgess’ typical daily commute is about 50Km round trip. And it only costs them about $1 per day.
It’s those kinds of savings that drove Maurice Brun to consider making the switch to an EV six years ago to help him manage costs in his retirement. He spent 3 years researching how an electric vehicle (EV) operates and has now been a very happy owner of a Nissan Leaf for 3 years.
“If I had known more about EVs long ago this would have been such an easy decision.”
Maurice would never go back to a gas-powered vehicle because the savings are too good. He says his car needs little service and there is no downside now that charging stations are popping up everywhere.
“I see a bright future for electric vehicles,” says Maurice. Prices are coming down and the driving range keeps going up. They’re quiet, handle well, and are very cheap to operate. What’s not to like?”
Read more from these New Brunswick EV enthusiasts here.
Are you ready for an EV? You can receive between $2,500 and $5,000 incentive from the federal government.