By Jerry Cuttler
Cuttler & Associates Inc.
The August issue of the CANDU Owners Group (COG) newsletter features the following story about a very important COG achievement for the Canadian nuclear industry. It’s about extending by almost 18% the operating lives of the Pickering reactors. Because of their lower power rating (540 MWe), the economic case to re-tube these reactors is weaker than the case for the Bruce and Darlington reactors. This COG achievement strengthens the economics of these reactors and of all the other CANDU reactors worldwide. And it’s about providing more low-cost, reliable, pollution-free electricity for the people of Ontario.
Technical information about Pickering fuel channel fitness for service is available here.
OPG’s Pickering Unit 6 first in Canada to exceed 210,000 EFPH
Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering Unit 6 was rapidly approaching its design limit of 210,000 equivalent full power hours (EFPH), the point at which specifications would indicate it be shut down for refurbishment.
But in 2009, OPG, together with industry partners, including COG, had launched the Fuel Channel Life Management Joint Project to examine evidence that the operating life could be significantly extended. So OPG applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for permission to increase that EFPH limit. Receiving the commission’s go-ahead was contingent upon satisfying a number of criteria and clearing a key licensing hold point that Pickering would not operate its pressure tubes beyond 210,000 EFPH until approved by the commission.
“OPG (in partnership with Bruce Power) made a significant presentation to the commission on all the work that had been carried out to demonstrate the high level of confidence that we have in the continued safety and operability of our fuel channels,” said Paul Spekkens, vice president, science and technology at OPG.
Based on results, the presentation, which took place at a public hearing on May 7, 2014, was a resounding success. Less than a month later on June 3, a decision had been reached. Spekkens announced that the commission had accepted OPG’s request to clear the hold point, and Pickering 6 was on track to become the first Canadian unit to operate beyond the 210,000 EFPH limit—up to 247,000 EFPH. It’s a decision that has huge positive implications for OPG’s bottom line, and raises the possibility of similar extensions—and savings—for other CANDU owners/operators.
“Most of this work was carried out by the staff of your organizations as part of the COG Joint Project on Fuel Channel Life Management and as direct technical support to OPG,” said Spekkens in an e-mail announcing the CNSC’s positive decision to the project partners.
“I would like to convey OPG’s appreciation for all the hard work carried out on our behalf by your organizations. The results of these efforts formed the basis for the compelling case we were able to present to the CNSC. Thank you to all who were involved.”