Canadian panel grants license extension for Pickering nuclear plant

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on Aug. 9 announced its decision to grant a five-year, single-site operating licence for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Pickering Nuclear station.

The licence will be valid from Sept. 1, 2013, until Aug. 31, 2018.

“OPG is very pleased with the CNSC’s decision and the re-licensing process overall,” said Wayne Robbins, OPG’s Chief Nuclear Officer. “We believe our safety and operational performance has earned a five-year licence renewal. The hearing process was an opportunity for organizations and individuals to share their views with the regulator and ensure all perspectives were considered in its decision.”

OPG said it will now undertake a thorough review of the terms of the licence conditions outlined by the commission. “I am pleased to say we have already started working on many of the future requirements outlined in the licence conditions,” Robbins said.

For more than 40 years, Pickering Nuclear has contributed to meeting the energy needs of the people of Ontario. In 2012, Pickering Nuclear produced 13% of the electricity consumed in Ontario, and has produced more than 700 terawatthours over its lifetime.

The licence includes a regulatory hold point that prohibits the operation of the Pickering B NGS beyond 210,000 effective full power hours. The commission said in an Aug. 9 statement that it will consider OPG’s request to remove this regulatory hold point in a future proceeding of the commission with public participation. 

The commission directs OPG to provide the following, before the removal of the hold point can be approved:

  • the revised probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) for Pickering A that meets the requirements of CNSC Regulatory Standard S-294, Probabilistic Safety Assessment for Nuclear Power Plants;
  • an updated PSA for both Pickering A and Pickering B that takes into account the enhancements required under the CNSC Fukushima Action Plan; and
  • a whole-site PSA or a methodology for a whole-site PSA, specific to the Pickering NGS site. 

The commission also directs OPG to ensure the production of an emergency management public information document, to be distributed to all households in the Pickering area, summarizing the integrated emergency response plan of all involved organizations, including all key roles and responsibilities. This document is expected to be produced by the end of June 2014.

Located on the shores of Lake Ontario just east of Toronto, Pickering Nuclear has six operating CANDU (CANadian Deuterium Uranium) reactors. Together the station has a total output of 3,100 MW. OPG said on its website that it is planning for the continued operation of the station until 2020. The estimated cost for the continued operation of units 5, 6, 7 and 8 at Pickering Nuclear is approximately C$200m.

The first four Pickering reactors went into service in 1971 and continued to operate safely until 1997 when they were placed in voluntary lay-up as part of what was then Ontario Hydro’s nuclear improvement program. In September 2003, Unit 4, was returned to commercial operation. Unit 1 was returned to commercial operation in November 2005. Units 2 and 3 remain in a safe shutdown state. Units 5, 6, 7 and 8 at Pickering continue to operate safely since they were brought into service in 1983. They have a combined capacity of approximately 2,100 MW.

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.