Canadian panel issues license for Darlington nuclear addition

The Joint Review Panel (JRP) of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said Aug. 17 that it has decided to issue a Nuclear Power Reactor Site Preparation Licence to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for its new nuclear power plant project at the Darlington nuclear site.

The licence will be valid until August 2022. In making its decision, the JRP said it considered information presented at the 17-day public hearing held in March and April 2011. During this hearing, the JRP received and considered submissions from OPG and 264 intervenors, as well as 14 government departments, including the CNSC.

Alan Graham, Chair of the JRP, stated: “This decision is an important milestone in Canada’s nuclear history. It has been reached in an open and transparent manner with the input of hundreds of citizens, whose thoughts and arguments inspired and challenged us to make the best possible decision.”

This project involves the construction and operation of up to four nuclear reactors and up to 4,800 MW of electrical capacity and associated facilities, at OPG’s existing site.

The JRP said it is satisfied that the licensee meets the requirements of section 24 of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, that OPG is qualified to carry out the activities that will be permitted under the licence, and that the health and safety of people and the environment will be protected.  

The JRP was established in 2009 to consider the environmental assessment and the licence application to prepare a site for the Darlington project. In August 2011, the JRP submitted its environmental assessment report to the government of Canada, concluding that the project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into consideration the implementation of proposed mitigation measures. In May, the government agreed with the JRP’s recommendation, and authorized the project to proceed to licensing to prepare a site. This was the end of the first step in a multiphase CNSC licensing process that is required for any new nuclear power project in Canada.

The JRP said it has directed OPG to prepare a mid-term report on the conduct of the licensed activities and the implementation status of commitments made during the environmental assessment. CNSC staff will prepare a report on the results of compliance activities carried out during the first half of the licence term, and on OPG’s performance during that period. CNSC staff will also present annual updates to the Commission Tribunal as a part of the annual CNSC Staff Integrated Safety Assessment of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants Report.

This decision regarding the site preparation concludes the work of the Darlington JRP. The next step in the regulatory process will be the CNSC licensing decision phase to construct a nuclear power plant, once OPG submits its application of that step.

The Darlington site is currently home to the four-unit Darlington nuclear plant and the Darlington Waste Management Facility, a used fuel dry storage facility. The portion of the Darlington site proposed for development is primarily the easterly one third of the overall Darlington site. It is bounded by the Darlington Nuclear site property limits on the east and north boundaries, by Lake Ontario to the south, and by Holt Road to the west.

In June, OPG announced it had signed agreements with two companies, Westinghouse and SNC-Lavalin/Candu Energy Inc., to prepare detailed construction plans, schedules and cost estimates for two potential nuclear reactors at the Darlington site.

New plant construction is not the only planned work at the site, by the way. On March 1, OPG in a joint venture with SNC-Lavalin Nuclear Inc. and Aecon Construction Group Inc. officially signed the Retube and Feeder Replacement contract, covering the refurbishment of the existing Darlington plant. The contract covers some of the most critical work in the refurbishment of the four reactors, including the planning and execution of major refurbishment activities, such as the removal and replacement of the 480 pressure tubes, calandria tubes and feeder pipes for each of the station’s four reactors. This work is required to extend the service life of Darlington Nuclear by 25 to 30 years.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.