Canadian regulator issues order on plant restarts

28 July 2021

The operators of the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering nuclear power plants must submit data to demonstrate the safe operation of pressure tubes and obtain regulatory authorisation before restarting any currently shut-down reactors at those sites. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) says it has issued orders to Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation out of an "abundance of caution".

Bruce (Image: Bruce Power)

The regulator earlier this month issued formal notices to all nuclear power plant licensees in Canada, requesting further analysis on the continued safe operation of pressure tubes, due to Bruce Power finding elevated levels of hydrogen equivalent in the pressure tubes of two units that are currently shut down.

"Following this regulatory action, our staff have now issued orders to both Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation. Effective July 26 (Bruce Power) and July 27 (OPG) these orders are to ensure any units currently offline at the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations, along with any other reactors that go offline at these sites going forward, are not restarted until the Commission authorises them to do so," the CNSC said.

"These orders have been issued out of an abundance of caution, and we do not see this as an imminent safety issue. We have increased our regulatory oversight in light of the recent findings, to ensure that licensees continue to operate within their approved licensing basis."

Bruce Power said higher-than-anticipated readings were observed during part of ongoing planned inspection, testing, analysis and maintenance activities at Bruce units 3 and 6. Unit 3 is in a routine inspection and maintenance outage, while unit 6 is undergoing its Major Component Replacement, where all pressure tubes are being replaced.

"We completed an immediate review of this following our rigorous processes and concluded there was no impact on the safety of the units. All six units that are currently operating have recently undergone similar inspections and demonstrated fitness for service," the company said.

"We proactively shared this information with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and with other CANDU operators to ensure we continue to contribute to the collective understanding from these inspection activities, which we collaborate on through the CANDU Owners Group."

Inspection activities have demonstrated the ongoing safe operation of the pressure tubes, which will continue to be thoroughly inspected in future planned outages, the company said. "As has clearly been expressed, safety is not impacted and Bruce Power will use its robust inspection tools and results to continue to demonstrate safety and fitness for service of these components and will provide this information to the CNSC."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News