Bruce prioritises power and isotope supplies

23 March 2020

Bruce Power has outlined the steps it is taking to ensure the Bruce nuclear power plant continues to provide reliable electricity for Ontario whilst maintaining the supply of cobalt-60 for medical sterilisation. The Major Component Replacement (MCR) project at the Canadian plant remains on schedule but activities will be narrowed to essential tasks as it moves to the next stage of its COVID-19 response, the company said on 20 March.

The Bruce plant on the eastern shore of Lake Huron (Image: @Bruce_Power)

The priority at the Bruce site is to minimise the number of employees working within the facility while maintaining safe, reliable operations and completing essential plant maintenance and inspections, the company said. The "population" of the site has already been reduced by two-thirds and these reductions are to continue.

"The MCR Project is on schedule. However, given the focus areas moving into the next stage of our response to COVID-19, the site will further reduce activities on the MCR Project. Key MCR activities will be narrowed to essential tasks related to plant safety and system integrity," it said.

Bruce Power's eight Candu units, located near Tiverton, annually produce about 30% of Ontario's power. The MCR project will see six of those units upgraded between now and 2033, extending their operation to 2064. The total cost of the Bruce refurbishment has been estimated at about CAD8 billion (USD5.6 billion), in addition to CAD5 billion for other activities under the life-extension programme. The company in January began the execution phase of the project - which is scheduled to take 46 months to complete for each unit - by taking Bruce 6 offline.

Four of Bruce's reactors produce cobalt-60, which is widely used for the sterilisation of medical equipment and also in some medical applications. The company produced its first medical-grade high-specific-activity cobalt-60 - used for brain cancer treatment - from Bruce unit 7 in 2019.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News