05/27/2015 06:10 EDT | Updated 05/27/2016 05:59 EDT

Hydro-Quebec Sold Utility Equipment Sold Under Value As Scrap Metal: Auditor General

QUEBEC CITY, Que. - Quebec's hydro utility was criticized Wednesday for selling new and unused nuclear power equipment acquired in 2011 for $79 million as scrap metal for a paltry $75,000.

The 2015-16 report of Quebec Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc stated Hydro-Quebec performed a "weak assessment" of the value of the equipment for the reactor's turbine and did not issue a formal call for tenders.

"Hydro-Quebec issued a restricted call for tenders to sell the equipment on the metal recycling market based on a weak assessment of the market value of the assets," Leclerc said in a statement released Wednesday.

"The buyers were selected on a discretionary basis without a review, by the appropriate officials, of the relevance of and compliance with the criteria established."

Leclerc also said "it was difficult" for her to assess whether Hydro-Quebec's decision was appropriate "considering the lack of accompanying documentation."

The equipment was custom-made for Quebec's ill-fate Gentilly-2 nuclear power station, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in Becancour, Que., 100 km northeast of Montreal.

Hydro-Quebec acquired the equipment in 2011, about a year before the Parti Quebecois government of the time decommissioned the nuclear station.

The utility said Wednesday it made every effort to sell the equipment but said the fact it was custom-designed made the parts unattractive to potential buyers.

Energy Minister Pierre Arcand said he agreed with Hydro-Quebec's decision but the opposition accused the government of "burning" Quebecers' money.

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