The NB Media Co-op sent the following email with questions on Jan. 8 to the NB Power. On Jan. 10, Marc Belliveau, Media Relations for NB Power, responded: “When I get feedback I will answer your email.” We updated this story with Belliveau’s responses that were received on Jan. 17.
The NB Media Co-op is an independent online media outlet. We recently published several stories and commentaries about small modular nuclear reactors (SMNRs), including the investment made by NB Power in SMNR projects in Saint John.
In these articles and commentaries, different authors raise important questions about the viability of the technology in the proposed small modular nuclear reactor projects. We are now developing a story about the extent to which NB Power has the ability to assess the viability of the technology of the proposed SMNR projects in an unbiased and appropriate manner.
Could you please respond to the following questions about Brett Plummer, NB Power Vice-President Nuclear & Chief Nuclear Officer. We understand that Mr. Plummer’s primary responsibility is the sustainable operation of NB Power’s Lepreau nuclear reactor.
1. The provincial government recently released its latest annual report of public sector salaries. NB Power President and CEO Gaëtan Thomas is included as the highest paid public servant in the report. NB Power has four vice-presidents. Three are listed in the report, along with their salaries, but Mr. Plummer is not included. Can you explain why Mr. Plummer is not included in the official government list of public sector employees and their salaries?
2. In January 2017, CBC published a story revealing that NB Power at that time paid Mr. Plummer a salary of $500,000 US annually, which was higher than the salary of the NB Power CEO. Can you confirm if Mr. Plummer’s salary continues to be higher than the NB Power CEO?
NB Power response: Mr. Plummer is under contract with the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. As such, his salary is reflected very much as it would be with a company, as he does not have the same benefits as a regular employee of NB Power.
3. In his NB Power role, Brett Plummer is listed as a team member of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA). The CNA identifies its primary objective as: “Create and foster a political environment and reasonable regulatory framework for advancing the nuclear industry in Canada.” Can you confirm if Mr. Plummer is working on behalf of NB Power to advance the nuclear industry in Canada?
4. The NB Media Co-op was informed that in 2019, Brett Plummer made a series of presentations promoting small modular nuclear reactors to communities across New Brunswick. Can you clarify the purpose of these community visits and provide us with a list of the communities visited? Is his presentation available for the public to review?
NB Power response: Point Lepreau is providing expertise on nuclear development in relation to SMRs and that was the spirit in which Mr. Plummer has participated in public meetings or meetings with stakeholders.
5. As an NB Power vice-president, what was Mr. Plummer’s role in the Joi Scientific project? The Telegraph Journal reported that three NB Power executives travelled to Florida to validate the technology before NB Power approved the project. Was Brett Plummer one of these three?
6. Mr. Plummer was trained in nuclear technology when he served with the US Navy. Does he have any continued relationship with the US military?
NB Power response: He is not affiliated today with the military and has no affiliation with the Joi project.
7. Mr. Plummer’s biography on the NB Power website lists several academic qualifications related to technology and nuclear technology that we were unable to confirm with the listed academic institutions:
“Bachelor of Science in Technical Business from New Hampshire College” – we contacted Southern New Hampshire University, formerly known as New Hampshire College, and requested the back catalogues to determine the requirements for this degree. After reviewing these, we were unable to find a degree program in “Technical Business” but there were degree programs with similar names. Could you clarify the year Mr. Plummer graduated and the exact name of his degree program?
“Associate of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology from the University of New York” – We contacted New York University who informed us that there is no “University of New York” but there are other similarly sounding names. Could you clarify the year Mr. Plummer graduated and the exact name of the institution that awarded his degree?
NB Power response: In respect to his credentials, they have been reviewed through federal processes prior to being hired at Lepreau.
8. Is there any other information you can share about Mr. Plummer’s academic qualifications related to nuclear energy technology and his interests related to the proposed SMNR projects in New Brunswick?
Thank you, we look forward to your responses. We appreciate your assistance with providing information in the public interest about activities supported with public funding.