Five more years for Darlington

28 February 2008

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has been granted a licence to operate the Darlington nuclear power plant for another five years.


Darlington (Image: OPG)

Darlington, on the shore of Lake Ontario, consists of four 881 MWe Candu pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs), which OPG said had operated at a capacity factor of almost 90% during 2007. The station provided Ontario, Canada's most populous province, with 17% of its electricity in that year.


Nuclear industry regulators, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission conducted three days of public hearings in Ottawa and Oshawa on the matter of licence renewal. CNSC and OPG staff made oral presentations alongside 22 other 'intervenors' including the City of Oshawa, Candu designer Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Greenpeace, the Power Workers Union, the Society of Energy Professionals and several local interests.


The CNSC was able to conclude that: "OPG is qualified to carry out the activities that will be permitted under the renewed licence and that it will make adequate provision for the protection of the environment, the health and safety of persons, and the maintenance of national security and measures required to implement international obligations to which Canada has agreed."


The new operating licence runs from 1 March 2008 until 28 February 2013, and includes extra conditions on which OPG must present a status report at future public proceedings in about two years.


Public CNSC documents show that some of the extra licence conditions concern certain changes to the organization of management at Darlington, and the re-qualification testing of some certified power plant shift staff. Arrangements for OPG to submit details of major work planned for maintenance outages and report afterwards to the CNSC are also changing.


As well as the power plant, the new operating licence also covers a Tritium Removal Facility on the same site. This treats heavy water coolant from the reactors to extract the tritium that builds up during operation.