The future of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

Photo of Pickering Nuclear Power Plant taken by CELA.CA

by Vijay Singh

The Ontario Government is supporting the refurbishment of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (PNGS).  In a news release, the Minister of Energy, Todd Smith said  “The refurbishment of Pickering would create thousands of new jobs and help produce at least another 30 years of safe, reliable and clean electricity to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify.”  

PNGS currently supplies about 14% of the province's electricity.

"This is the responsible, pragmatic way to move forward to ensure we have the power that we need," says Smith.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) however is worried about the extension of PNGS and does not believe that it has adequate safety measures. CELA says there is a lack of preparedness for any large accidents, insufficient alerting systems for close proximities and no proper evacuation system.  

If the refurbishment of Pickering's 'B' side (reactor #'s 5-8)  goes ahead, the government expects it would provide  2,000 megawatts of electricity,  power for roughly two million homes. 

Construction on the Pickering Nuclear Station began in 1966.  It was Canada's first nuclear generating station.  Phase one started producing power in 1971.  Two of the original four reactors have been shut down for decades. Reactors #1 and #4 are slated to be decommissioned at the end of this year.

CELA says the current emergency plans at PNGS will put 4.5 million people at unreasonable health and safety risks. It claims the current plan only protects the people within a 10 kilometer radius. The evacuation plan, CELA says, also has inconsistencies with the Nuclear Safety Control Act. This states that the emergency evacuation plan should cover up to a 30 kilometer radius, not only a 10 kilometer radius. 

The Project Initiation Phase of refurbishment will last through the end of 2024 and is estimated to cost $2 billion. It will include engineering and design work as well as securing long-lead components that can require years for manufacturing. The government has not provided any estimate for the total cost of refurbishing the four reactors.

CELA says that for PNGS to keep their license improvements of their evacuation and emergency plans are needed. This means providing a detailed evacuation plan within a 10-20 kilometer radius. Contingency planning for a 20-50 kilometer radius and ingestion planning for 50-100 kilometer radius. 

It also claims that PNGS does not consider sustainability. CELA believes the cost to future generations is being overlooked. This leaves Ontario in a bind for safer and cheaper options. 

Each of PNGS's reactors produce about 500 megawatts.  The reactors at the Bruce Generating Station by contrast put out 800 megawatts each and Darlington's reactors generate 900 megawatts.

According to the initial scheduling for this OPG the refurbishment of PNGS is predicted to be completed by the mid 2030s and the government says it will add 19.4 billion dollars to  Ontario's GDP over the 11-year project. It is also estimated that this will create over 11,000 thousand jobs. 

The Ontario government says this is just part of the Ontario plan to meet electricity demands and reduce emissions in the province's long-term overall economy. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.