Canada’s nuclear picture shifted in 2012, with one permanent shutdown

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) annual safety assessment shows that Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) nuclear facilities continue to operate safely, the provincial utility said Aug. 21.

OPG’s Darlington station received a rating of “fully satisfactory” – the highest category, for the fourth year in a row. The Pickering station was rated as “satisfactory,” along with all other Canadian nuclear operators. The overall ratings for both Pickering and Darlington remain unchanged from last year. Both stations were evaluated in 14 individual safety and control areas, OPG noted.

“This demonstrates the commitment to safety of the staff and management at our nuclear sites,” said Pierre Tremblay, Chief Nuclear Operating Officer at OPG. “But we also know we can’t rest on our laurels. We will continue to focus on operational excellence and continuous improvement.”

The Integrated Safety Assessment of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants was to be presented and discussed at the CNSC commission meeting on Aug. 21.

Each year, the CNSC publishes a report on the safety performance of Canada’s nuclear power plants (NPPs). The new report, covering 2012, summarizes the safety performance of the Canadian nuclear power industry as a whole, as well as the performance of each NPP.

In 2012:

  • seven NPPs were operating at five sites in three provinces;
  • the year opened with 17 operational reactor units;
  • Bruce A Units 1 and 2, operated by Bruce Power, restarted after undergoing refurbishment;
  • The Point Lepreau plant of New Brunswick Power Nuclear Corp. was relicensed, and restarted after undergoing refurbishment, with a new uprated capacity of 705 MWe (gross);
  • Gentilly-2 of Hydro-Quebec (675 MWe gross) was operational throughout 2012, and was shut down and ended commercial operation in December; and
  • the year ended with 19 operational reactor units.

Report updates status of one shut and one upgraded nuclear facility

Said the report about Gentilly-2: “On December 28, 2012, the reactor was removed from the electrical grid. Hydro-Québec is in the process of putting the reactor into a guaranteed shutdown state (GSS).” The report later added: “The operating organization at Gentilly-2 is being transitioned towards one capable of carrying out the defueling and preparation for safe storage and future decommissioning of the station. Regulatory activities are being planned for the required oversight on the proposed changes to the organizational structure and to roles of key personnel.”

Said the report about Point Lepreau: “In 2012, NB Power continued its refurbishment activities, with most of the work being completed by the summer. Reactor commissioning and restart activities followed. The reactor returned to commercial operation on November 23, 2012. At this point, CNSC staff resumed routine regulatory oversight of operational activities. A single-reactor station, Point Lepreau experienced no forced outages, one unplanned reactor trip during commissioning testing, no stepbacks and one setback. These transient events were associated with return-to-service activities. CNSC staff verified that, for all transient events, NB Power staff followed approved procedures, investigated or evaluated the root cause of the event, and took appropriate corrective actions.”

Through inspections, reviews and assessments, CNSC staff concluded that the NPPs operated safely during 2012. The evaluations of all findings for the safety and control areas (SCAs) show that, overall, NPP licensees made adequate provisions for the protection of the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment from the use of nuclear energy, and took the measures required to implement Canada’s international obligations.

The following observations, said the report, support the conclusion of safe operation:

  • there were no serious process failures at the NPPs;
  • no member of the public received a radiation dose that exceeded the regulatory limit;
  • no workers at any NPP received a radiation dose that exceeded the regulatory limits;
  • the frequency and severity of non-radiological injuries to workers was minimal;
  • no radiological releases from the stations exceeded the regulatory limits; and
  • licensees complied with their licence conditions concerning Canada’s international obligations.
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.