Tag Archives: NB Power

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Being Prepared for the Unexpected: The Nuclear Industry is Disaster Ready

In 2011, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded opened-up the sea floor and sent a wall of water rushing along the Japanese coast knocking out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Images of the devastation made international headlines and raised concern over the safety and preparedness of nuclear power plants in the event of a disaster.

Recently, the government of Ontario announced that it is updating the province’s nuclear response plan. It will have a very solid and impressive basis on which to build.

Although the risk of a tsunami-induced accident at Canada’s nuclear power sites is close to non-existent, being prepared for the unexpected has been at the core of the nuclear industry’s commitment to safety. In fact, within a year of the Fukushima accident, Canada’s nuclear operators took additional steps, including a full-scale emergency exercise that was hosted by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) at its Darlington operations. The exercise brought together emergency responders from all levels of government and OPG, to test accident readiness.

Safety is a crucial pillar of success, and that is why the industry continues to add new measures to existing emergency response plans. As one example, OPG installed flood barriers to protect low-lying equipment in the event of a severe weather disaster. During the Fukushima event, an explosion took place because of a buildup of hydrogen. So OPG installed passive autocatalytic recombiners to limit the risk of a buildup of hydrogen should a leak ever occur.

Bruce Power, Ontario’s other nuclear generator, has built upon its safety foundation post-Fukushima, making additional investments in a suite of back-up generators and fire trucks. A new Emergency Management Centre, equipped with its own back-up power supply was also set up, and last October Bruce Power hosted 500 people from over two dozen agencies to take part in a week-long emergency preparedness drill called Exercise Huron Resolve.

This week-long exercise involved various industry partners and government including The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, The Ontario Provincial Police, The Ministry of Labour’s Radiation Protection Services and OFMEM’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, which is based in Toronto.

Outside of Ontario, in New Brunswick, the Point Lepreau nuclear plant recently conducted  two large-scale emergency response exercises. A two-day simulation, in 2015, was conducted in partnership between NB Power and New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization and this past May the company teamed up with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to run through security emergency response exercises.

It is important to point out that, prior to Fukushima, nuclear emergency response plans were already in place. In fact, the nuclear industry’s commitment to emergency planning has been in place since the operation of nuclear power plants began, over fifty years ago. Since that time, operators have continued to build upon best practices.

While the geography of Canada makes it highly unlikely that an earthquake and ensuing tsunami, like the one that swallowed the Japanese coast, could ever occur here, we know that we must invest and demonstrate our commitment to planning and preparing for the unexpected. Our people are our number one asset, living and working in the communities they serve. Keeping our communities safe isn’t just part of our job it’s part of our community responsibility. One that we take pride in.

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Nuclear Refurbishment: The Best Deal for Ontario

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By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

One of the biggest criticisms about nuclear power is that renovations are expensive.

But even with a big price tag up front, the refurbishment of nuclear reactors is still cheaper than the alternatives for reliable baseload power (the minimum amount of electric power delivered or required over a given period of time at a steady rate).

In Ontario, refurbishments are planned for both Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation. Bruce Power is estimating it may spend up to $15 billion to refurbish six reactors at its Kincardine station beginning in 2016. And OPG’s Darlington refurbishment is estimated at $10 billion.

Combined, the two plants represent about 10,000 MWs of generation capacity. They produce about half of Ontario’s electricity. They have provided clean, cheap and reliable electricity to Ontarians for almost 25 years. As they come to the end of the first phase of their initial life cycle, the Ontario government concluded that refurbishment is a lot less expensive and cleaner than replacing that power.

“We needed to determine how that power is going to be replaced,” Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said in a recent television interview with Global News.

“We made a determination that refurbishment is the least-cost type of generation. It’s 50 per cent less than the cost of new nuclear and less the cost of replacing those megawatts with gas. So we’re moving ahead because of the cost factor.

“The best cost deal in replacing the existing nuclear is to refurbish what we have.”

Chiarelli went on to explain that he is not expecting either refurbishment to go over budget.

“We built off ramps,” he said. “If OPG cannot deliver on budget and on time then there’s a real likelihood that cabinet will not proceed with the additional refurbishment.

“Building refurbishment is the best cost deal for the province by a large, large margin. The estimates we have now are reliable estimates.”

As for the other options, wind power is intermittent and cannot be relied upon as a base load power source. If you back up wind with natural gas, the price goes up and there is no price certainty over long periods of time for gas, which is currently cheap, but is prone to price changes.

While the price tag for refurbishment can be large, rates are affordable because it can be amortized over a 30 year period.

That was the case in New Brunswick with the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Generating Station.

Even though refurbishment there went over budget, New Brunswickers will not see their power rates increase as the cost overruns will be paid back over 27 years.

“The costs related to Lepreau have been fully accounted for in our projections, and we intend to recover these costs through equal payments – similar to a home mortgage – made monthly during the 27-year life of the plant,” according to Gaetan Thomas, president of NB Power.

Former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, whose government approved the refurbishment project in 2005, told Global News recently that when compared with the alternatives, refurbishment was “actually better than any alternatives.”

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The Point Lepreau Generating Station is Seismically Robust and Safe

Below is a press release from NB Power correcting misinformation being circulated about the safety of their facility at Point Lepreau.

We echo the sentiments of NB Power Site VP & CNO, Sean Granville, when he says that our industry is one of most (if not THE most) closely regulated industries in Canada. Nuclear safety is not something we take lightly, it’s part of our culture.

Please read on for the straight facts on the matter.

The Point Lepreau Generating Station is seismically robust and safe

February 6, 2013

Fredericton, N.B. – NB Power takes exception to comments made today about the safety of the Point Lepreau Generating Station (PLGS) by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) Action Committee.

“These comments are misleading and attempt to undermine public trust in nuclear safety regulation and in the Point Lepreau Generating Station,” said Sean Granville, Site Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “The nuclear industry is one of Canada’s most closely regulated industries and its safety record is excellent and very transparent to the public. The people of New Brunswick can take great confidence in the safety of Point Lepreau.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory framework relies, in part, on International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines. On the basis of that framework, the CNSC sets licensing conditions for PLGS, which also includes meeting various Canadian standards. The Station meets or exceeds the specifications required under its federal licence. Comments made today by CCNB take highly technical seismic data about Point Lepreau out of context.

“We understand that the CCNB is not in favor of nuclear power and they of course are entirely entitled to hold that opinion,” said Granville. “However, NB Power is fully committed to operating the Station in a safe and responsible manner while meeting all licence and safety requirements.”

As stated by the CNSC, all Canadian nuclear power plants, existing or new, are licensed on the basis of their proven ability to withstand seismic events like earthquakes. Structures and systems have been designed to safely survive earthquakes and the CNSC ensures that all nuclear power plant licensees comply with regulatory requirements. In Canada, reactor sites are geologically screened to ensure they are constructed in a location that is seismically stable.

PLGS is located in an area of much lower seismic hazard risk than Fukushima. It is well within the North American plate and not located at a subduction tectonic plate boundary as is the case in Japan. The Station was designed to withstand potential earthquakes; both the actual structures that form containment and the systems important to safety have been seismically qualified prior to being granted a licence to operate. In addition, a
number of upgrades to the plant were made as part of the recent Refurbishment Project to further enhance seismic safety.

When the CNSC renewed PLGS’s Power Reactor Operating Licence in February 2012, the Commission made the completion of a site-specific seismic hazard assessment a condition of the Station’s licence renewal.

Since early 2012, PLGS staff have worked with experts on the site-specific seismic hazard assessment. Seasonal factors make it impossible to complete all data gathering until the summer of 2013, which means the final assessment report will be issued in 2014. Meanwhile, the preliminary findings offer reassurance about the safety of the Station.

Data included in this study is highly technical information, and NB Power – in reporting to the CNSC – relies on independent, highly qualified experts to conduct this type of work. Additionally, the assessment is reviewed by an independent panel of experts.

Preliminary findings of the seismic assessment received from third-party experts in December 2012 indicate that the current understanding of the earthquake hazard for the Point Lepreau site is not substantially different than that presented in a 1984 study. More information on the preliminary findings is available here.

Based on these findings; we are confident that the original safety case for PLGS remains as strong today as it was when the Station was constructed. The Station is sound and will continue to operate safely. New Brunswickers should be assured that NB Power takes its responsibilities to the people of New Brunswick as its utmost priority and puts the safety of employees and the public above everything else.

– 30 –

MEDIA CONTACT: Kathleen Duguay, Manager, Public Affairs, (506) 647-8057 or kduguay@nbpower.com.

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NB Power Point Lepreau Generating Station Resumes Commercial Operations

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) congratulates NB Power on the return to commercial service of its Point Lepreau Generating Station. The completion of this refurbishment project means an additional 25-30 years of continued safe, reliable, clean air energy for New Brunswick and surrounding export customers.

“The completed refurbishment and return to commercial operations of the Point Lepreau Generating Station is a great accomplishment,” says Heather Kleb, Interim President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association. “Point Lepreau is an essential part of New Brunswick’s long-term energy policy and will help ensure the province achieves its goal of having 75 per cent of its electricity coming from clean, low-carbon sources by 2020.”

Point Lepreau is a foundational piece of NB Power’s domestic energy supply and export sales, and provides rate stability. The refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Generating Station positions NB Power once again as a utility with a world-class nuclear facility and the highly skilled work force required to operate it.

The Canadian nuclear industry supports the employment of 30,000 Canadians who are responsible for generating electricity, mining uranium, advancing nuclear medicine, and promoting Canada’s global leadership in science and technology innovation. Through these efforts, we also support 30,000 spin-off jobs and contribute to Canada’s supply of reliable, affordable power.

Background:

NB Power declares the Point Lepreau Generating Station commercially operational.

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Nuclear Power as a Foundation for a Sustainable Energy Future

Recently we were asked by the Canada West Foundation (CWF) to provide a guest blog post about nuclear for their Let’s Talk Energy blog — an initiative under the CWF’s Powering Up for the Future project. The post is basically a nuclear primer for an audience which may not be familiar with all of the benefits and contributions of the technology.

Let us know what you think!

Nuclear Power as a Foundation for a Sustainable Energy Future

Originally posted at Let’s Talk Energy

Given recent events in Japan, the first thing that anyone wants to know about Canadian nuclear is: Is it safe? The answer is yes, and I’ll tell you why.

Safety is our number one priority. Canada’s nuclear power operations have a proven track record of being among the safest in the world. They are highly monitored, stringently regulated and continuously improved through the daily efforts of qualified professionals who are committed to ensuring public safety. In over 45 years of operation there has not been a single significant incident at a Canadian facility.

Our industry continues to make investments and improvements as part of our ‘Safety First’ culture. In response to the Fukushima accident, Bruce Power has taken concrete action on a number of fronts following the events in Japan. For example, they recently announced the re-organization of their emergency response organization, which involves approximately 400 employees who form the basis of their industry-leading emergency response capability. Building on lessons learned from the Fukushima event is a top priority for our industry.

At Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a four-month examination of its nuclear operations following the events in Japan uncovered no major safety issues. OPG carefully studied the safety of its facilities and re-evaluated the potential of unlikely events such earthquakes, severe flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, fire and ice storms having major impacts on nuclear operations. The studies showed that the plants continued to be safe, but as part of continuous improvement OPG will make investments to increase safety margins during these unlikely events. This includes accelerating the installation of hydrogen recombiners and the purchase of additional back up generation and diesel pumps.

Currently there are 17 operational CANDU reactors in Canada that supply 15% of all electricity in Canada. This 15% means the potential emission of 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year is avoided. Imagine, without nuclear power, if that same amount of electricity was fossil-fuel generated, Canada’s total GHG emission would increase by a whopping 12%.

Canada’s nuclear facilities are located in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Communities in these provinces are benefiting not only from an available, reliable and clean source of energy, but an affordable one as well. According to studies conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a multi-country organization working to further growth and development of its member nations, the overall cost to the consumer of nuclear power over the life of a nuclear power facility is similar to that of large-scale hydro, natural gas and coal, and much lower than wind and solar.

What about the rest of the country, you might be wondering. What are the benefits of nuclear for the rest of the country not currently powered by nuclear? Power generation is only one of the many great things about nuclear, and it isn’t only Canadians who benefit from the Canadian nuclear industry, both today and historically, what with the countless Canadian innovations in the field.

The Canadian nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit Canadians and people around the world. The application of nuclear science improves the health and well-being of us all through nuclear medicine and food safety technologies. Innovation in nuclear science is also being applied to address a number of societal challenges such as public health and transportation.

Our nuclear industry is made up of over 70,000 Canadians employed directly or indirectly in exploring and mining uranium, generating electricity, advancing nuclear medicine, and promoting Canada’s worldwide leadership in science and technology innovation. Through the efforts of these Canadians, our nuclear industry is a $6.6 billion per year industry, contributing $1.5 billion in tax revenues and $1.2 billion in export revenues.

Our commitment to public safety and environmental stewardship includes the safe, secure and responsible long-term management of all of the used fuel produced by Canadian nuclear power plants.  Used fuel is initially stored in secure water-filled bays on site of the nuclear power plants for 5 –10 years. It is then placed in large concrete and steel containers safely stored on site. In order to address the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was established by nuclear energy producers in 2002 in accordance with the federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act.

NWMO has worked with industry, research and government organizations to develop a management approach for the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel, including development of a deep geological repository in a suitable rock formation. Initial stages of the plan are now being implemented. NWMO’s plan and its implementation is highly monitored and regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to protect the health, safety and security of people and our environment. In fact, radioactive waste facilities are monitored by the licensees and by the provincial and federal authorities, and they are kept extremely secure.

Let’s see, we’ve covered: safety, zero-emission power generation, affordability, contributions to medicine, heath, science and technology innovation, various industries, and the Canadian economy, and talked about how we clean up after ourselves. These reasons all illustrate why nuclear energy should be considered not only in the discussions about a Canadian energy strategy, but also as a component for a sustainable energy future.

I’d love to continue this discussion with you. We have a blog at TalkNuclear.ca and we talk nuclear on Facebook and Twitter. Come join the conversation about all things nuclear and energy related.

If you want to know more about the daily benefits of nuclear beyond energy generation, visit our new microsite. Find out how the future is NU.

Originally posted at Let’s Talk Energy

 

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2010 Annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants

Last week, the CNSC staff presented their annual report on the safety performance of Canada’s nuclear power facilities. Part I of the presentation covered the safety performance, from January to December 2010; Part II addressed regulatory developments and issues.  The public was invited to provide comments on the reports, which have been publicly available since April, however, no comments were received. The industry average was Satisfactory. This means our operators were found to be satisfying the regulators’ expectations for safety and control areas and maintaining very safe operations.

Summary of Results for 2010

  • No serious process failures at the NPPs
  • No radiation dose to the public and workers above the regulatory limits
  • Accident severity rate was low
  • No environmental releases above regulatory limits
  • Canada was able to meet its international obligations regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy
How did we do?

Here are some report highlights on each of the Canada’s nuclear stations

Bruce A & B

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Fully Satisfactory in measures of conventional health and safety

Darlington

  • Integrated Plant Rating: Fully Satisfactory
  • Fully Satisfactory in measures of Operating Performance, Fitness for Service, Radiation Protection

Pickering A & B

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory in measures of Environmental Protection, Emergency Management and Fire Protection, Waste Management

Gentilly-2

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory in measures of Human Performance Management, Safety Analysis, Safeguards

Point Lepreau

  • Integrated Plant Ratings: Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory in measures of Packaging and Transport, Radiation Protection, Environmental Protection
  • NB Power’s Point Lepreau Generating Station received a “Below Expectations” rating in area of Emergency management and fire protection. NB Power assures their plant is safe. They have a plan in place to address the areas where performance needs to be improved and are confident in achieving high standards of performance. Safety is their number one priority.They do have fire, chemical, radiological and medical response capabilities as provided by highly trained, qualified and dedicated emergency response teams. They will continue to put measures in place to improve — that is their commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring that they meet the expectations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Aside from the report card on our nuclear power facilities, the CNSC staff report contains tons of interesting information about how Canadian plants fair against international benchmarks (note: very well!).

CNSC Presentation Overview

  • Background of the 2010 Report
  • Public Comments
  • Summary of the Results for 2010
  • Individual Station Highlights
  • Concluding Remarks

Download PDF versions of the CNSC presentation documents below

2010 Annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants

2010 Annual CNSC Staff Report on the Safety Performance of Canadian Nuclear Power Plants – Presentation

In the concluding remarks, the CNSC found that all nuclear power facilities in Canada operated safely in 2010, and that operators made adequate provisions to protect health, safety, environment and international commitments. The Canadian nuclear industry works because of a shared commitment to safety among plant workers and operators and the strong regulatory oversight of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The CNSC will present a final report on the implications of the Japan nuclear event for Canadian nuclear power facilities. This report will be available on September 30, 2011.