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[cdn-nucl-l] Bruce Power seeks to build reactors in Ontario
Posted in the Toronto Star on August 18, 2006 and at:
Bruce Power seeks to build reactors in Ontario
Triggers safety and regulatory review
Filing beats Ontario Power to the punch
Aug. 18, 2006. 01:00 AM
Privately owned Bruce Power has asked the country's nuclear safety watchdog
for approval to plan for potential construction of new nuclear reactors,
triggering a regulatory process and environmental assessment that's never
been applied to new projects in Canada.
In doing so, it beat Ontario Power Generation to the punch. The
government-owned power generation company, acting under a directive issued
by Energy Minister Dwight Duncan in June, is still working on its
application to place new reactors at the Darlington Generating Station east
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission confirmed yesterday that it had
received Bruce Power's application, and acknowledged it will be the first
test of its kind under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the Canadian
Environmental Assessment Act - two pieces of legislation that did not exist
the last time a new nuclear reactor was built in Canada.
"We have had other facilities under these acts, but ... as far as new
nuclear power reactors, this will be the first one," said Ken Pereira,
vice-president of operations at the safety commission.
Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive officer and president of Bruce Power, said
by filing the application, he's keeping his options open.
The company said that as many as five Bruce reactors, all based on
Canadian-designed CANDU technology, will need to be refurbished or replaced
between 2010 and 2015, and that it is also considering the addition of more
reactors at its Bruce site.
"There's been no decision taken to refurbish (the four reactors) at Bruce
B," said Hawthorne in an interview. "By going through this process, we'll
know if there's public support for new construction, and we'll find out
about the economics so we can compare that with refurbishment."
It is a first step in a long process. Not only must Bruce Power apply for a
licence to prepare its site for development, it must also seek a licence to
build and eventually to operate a new nuclear power plant. Before any
licence can be granted, proposed projects must pass an environmental
assessment that can take up to three years and involves extensive public
Environmental groups say they'll be participating in full force. "We're
going to be doing everything we can do engage the people of Ontario," said
Keith Stewart, manager of the climate change program at WWF-Canada.
Stewart said the federal environmental assessment is not enough because it
won't address whether building new nuclear plants is a good idea in the
first place. It focuses instead on whether proposed projects satisfy
established safety criteria.
"We'll take full advantage of the process, but that process is a stacked
deck against us," he said.
Bruce Power operates six nuclear reactors about 250 kilometres northwest of
Toronto. Another two reactors are in the process of being refurbished and
are expected to go back into service in 2009, bringing the total output of
Bruce's fleet to 6,200 megawatts - more than 20 per cent of the province's
In June, the government announced plans to build two new reactors totalling
1,000 megawatts and refurbish others as part of a $46 billion plan to solve
the province's energy crunch over the coming two decades.
Tom Adams, executive director of Energy Probe in Toronto, said the Bruce
filing is meant to capture the attention of the provincial government.
"Every move that Bruce Power makes in that direction of new nuclear is
really a lobbying effort directed at Queen's Park," he said, pointing out
that Hawthorne has made no secret of his desire to build new nuclear plants
Both Adams and Stewart said it's a signal that the government's
1,000-megawatt target for new reactors is artificial and doesn't reflect
"I don't take that 1,000 megawatt cap seriously," said Adams. "It's simply a
marketing strategy by the Ontario government to assuage public concerns
about their nuclear policy. Their intention is to go for much more."
Stewart called it a classic "bait and switch," adding that plans for
refurbishment will gradually morph into new construction over time.
Energy Minister Dwight Duncan told the Toronto Star in an interview last
week that the 1,000 megawatt figure could climb, but will stay within the
14,000 megawatt cap on total nuclear power capacity he announced in June.
"We've left that possibility open," he said. "But we just don't know until
we do the detailed engineering and the detailed analysis .... We'll see how
Premier Dalton McGuinty emphasized this point to reporters yesterday during
a stop in Cobourg. If "for some reason we can't refurb, then so be it. We'll
proceed with new construction," he said.
Ontario Power Generation is currently exploring whether Pickering B should
be refurbished or replaced.
New nuclear capacity from a recent refurbishment helped OPG generate a
second-quarter profit of $143 million, up from $63 million a year earlier.
Nuclear production increased 19 per cent as a result of the return to
service of Unit 1 at the Pickering A nuclear generating station.
With a file from Robert Benzie.