CNSC to assess AECL reactor design

13 May 2009

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) has signed a service agreement with the Canadian nuclear regulator to conduct a design compliance review of the Enhanced Candu 6 (EC6) nuclear reactor.

Enhanced Candu 6 (AECL)
The Enhanced Candu 6 reactor design (Image: AECL)

Under the agreement, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will conduct a high-level review of the 740 MWe capacity EC6 pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) design based on its expectations for new nuclear power plants in Canada. The study is expected to be complete by February 2010.

The EC6 reactor is the evolution of the proven Candu 6 design. It is based on the Qinshan Phase III Candu 6 plant in China. AECL said that, while "retaining the basic features of the Candu 6 design, the EC6 reactor incorporates innovative features and state-of-the-art technologies that enhance safety, operation and performance." It incorporates design and safety improvements, including added containment protective features and greater resistance to earthquakes.
AECL's EC6 reactor design is amongst those being considered by Bruce Power for up to four new units proposed for the existing Bruce plant site in Ontario.
LWR expertise sought
Meanwhile, the CNSC is seeking to expand its expertise in light water reactor (LWR) technology in order to review other reactor designs for new build in Canada. At the end of April, it put out a Request for Information (RFI) seeking responses from suppliers with LWR technology expertise, both in Canada and internationally.
The CNSC said that it has initiated this RFI "to prepare for potential licence applications for new nuclear power plants that are based on light water reactor technology." It added that it would need to increase its LWR expertise to prepare for and assess such licence applications. Currently in the province of Ontario, Areva's EPR, Westinghouse's AP1000 as well as AECL's ACR-1000 are taking part in a nuclear procurement process.
Once applications for any new nuclear power plant have actually been received, the CNSC will issue a Request for Proposal to retain the required professional services.