Canadian commission approves environmental review for Darlington nuclear project

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on March 14 issued its decision on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington Nuclear Generating Station Refurbishment and Continued Operation Project.

The announcement follows the CNSC’s four-day public hearing in Clarington last December. This decision enables OPG to move ahead with a number of activities in support of Darlington refurbishment, the utility said March 14.

OPG has completed extensive environmental studies on the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS), resulting in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. OPG submitted the EIS to the CNSC in December 2011.

“OPG is very pleased with the CNSC’s decision,” said Wayne Robbins, OPG Chief Nuclear Officer. “We were confident in our conclusions that Darlington Refurbishment and continued operation of the station will not result in any significant, adverse environmental effects, given the mitigation measures identified.”

The project involves the refurbishment of the four reactors at the DNGS to enable the continued operations for 25 to 30 additional years. Refurbishment requires the replacement of a number of major components when the reactor is not operating. In addition, other components will be inspected, serviced, and if necessary, replaced. Following the refurbishment of each reactor, the units will be refueled, tested and returned to full power, OPG noted. A refurbished Darlington station will provide 3,500 MW of clean, reliable, cost-effective electricity for the people of Ontario for an additional 25 to 30 years.

The commission said in a March 14 statement that its decision was based on the screening-level environmental assessment of the project prepared under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The commission has determined that the EA process is sufficient and that the project need not be referred to a review panel. The commission can therefore proceed, under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, with its consideration of a license application from OPG for the proposed project.

Also on March 14, the commission said that in a separate but related matter, following a one-day public hearing, it has decided to renew OPG’s Darlington Waste Management Facility operating license for ten years. The license will be valid from March 13, 2013, until April 30, 2023. 

The commission authorized the construction and operation of two additional storage buildings and includes in the renewed license the conditions as recommended by CNSC staff. CNSC staff will provide a consolidated report on the performance of the waste management facilities in 2014, insofar as CNSC staff does not include waste management facilities in its Nuclear Cycle and Facilities Regulation Annual Report.

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.