(continued)

Bruce Power asking to extend life of Units 5 and 6
at Bruce Nuclear site

Technology

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The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a hearing Sept. 10 to consider Bruce Power’s application for approval to operate Units 5 and 6 at the Bruce B Nuclear Generating Station, beyond 210,000 equivalent full power hours (EFPH). 

The facility is located in the Municipality of Kincardine, and the original assumed design life for the pressure tubes at Bruce B is approaching 210,000 EFPH. 

Therefore, Bruce Power is required to obtain written approval from the CNSC before operating beyond this limit, in order to ensure fitness for service and safe operation. 

The hearing will be conducted by way of written submissions from CNSC staff and Bruce Power. 

The CNSC has determined that a public hearing is not necessary for considering this request from Bruce Power, as this topic will be an important part of the hearing for the five-year Bruce Nuclear site operating licence renewal. That hearing is planned for February and April, 2015, and the public will be invited to participate. 

If, as a result of the Sept. 10 hearing, the CNSC grants approval for continued operation of Units 5 and 6, this approval would be limited to such time as a decision is rendered on the application for the five-year operating licence renewal.

Following the deliberations in a closed session and decision of the CNSC on this matter, a Record of Proceedings, including Reasons for Decision, will be published on the CNSC website and made available to the public.

This closed-door hearing isn't sitting well with a number of organizations, including the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and Greenpeace.

In a letter to the CNSC, Theresa A. McClenaghan, executive director of the CELA, states the association strongly objects to the CNSC's refusal to conduct a public hearing on Bruce Power's proposal to operate two reactor units beyond the design life of their pressure tubes.

"In our view, the Bruce Power proposal cannot be characterized as trivial, inconsequential or administrative in nature," she states in the letter. "To the contrary, operating nuclear power equipment beyond design life raises matters of profound public interest, and involves a number of key technical, safety and policy issues."

McClenaghan, adds that vague promises by the CNSC to provide some participation opportunities on this topic, at some point in 2015, are "an improper substitute for ensuring proper public and stakeholder input into the critically important (and possibly precedential) decision that the CNSC now intends to make after this week's one-day 'hearing'."

To read the entire CELA letter, click here.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, nuclear analyst, of Greenpeace states in a letter to the CNSC that this closed-door hearing is an "abridged hearing" with only CNSC president Michael Binder present to consider and rule on Bruce Power's application.

He said that, as seen in Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s proposal to run the Pickering reactors beyond their design life, such proposals can provoke significant interest from the public.

"Indeed, public scrutiny exposed deficiencies in OPG's safety case that required the CNSC to hold an additional hearing on the issue this year," states Stensil.

"In Greenpeace's view, the closed-door hearing planned for Sept. 10 shows the CNSC is intentionally obstructing public scrutiny of Bruce Power's proposal to run its reactors beyond their design life. This is disappointing and unacceptable."

To read the entire letter from Greenpeace, click here.

John Peevers of Bruce Power communications, says the pressure tubes, like all components within the plant, are inspected and tested on an ongoing basis, and the data collected is shared with the CNSC.

"We maintain all of our equipment to the highest standards of safety and those standards are continually regulated and validated by the CNSC which is one of the most respected nuclear regulators in the world," he says.

"Members of the public will have ample opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinion on this or any topic related to our operations, during Bruce Power’s relicensing hearings which are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 4 or 5, 2015, in Ottawa (Part 1) and April 14-16, 2015, in Kincardine (Part 2)."

 


Meanwhile, CNSC staff has released its Commission Member Document which assesses the submission by Bruce Power in support of continued operation of Units 5 and 6 beyond the 210,000 EFPH.

In its conclusions, the CNSC believes Bruce Power has satisfactorily met the necessary pre-requisites.

"Specifically, Bruce Power has developed the appropriate engineering methodologies and inspection/maintenance programs to demonstrate fuel channel fitness for service up to 245,000 EFPH, and to ensure the continued safe operation of the power reactors," states the document.

It recommends the CNSC approve continued operation of Units 5 and 6 up to 245,000 EFPH.

To read the entire document, click here.

Bruce Power's submission, made by Frank Saunders, vice-president of nuclear oversight and regulatory affairs, outlines evidence to demonstrate that the condition of pressure tubes continues to be sufficient to support safe operation now and into the future.

"The Bruce Power pressure tubes in all reactors are safe to operate and remain within the design constraints necessary to support safe operation upon which the operating licence is based," he states in his submission.

"As a proactive measure, research and development programs are ongoing to access pressure tube fracture toughness with high hydrogen equivalent concentration, and new fracture toughness models have been developed to predict pressure tube conditions with increased operating time."

The maximum level of hydrogen concentrates currently in the Bruce reactors is 60 parts per million (PPM) hydrogen equivalent concentration, states Saunders. The research and development work, to date, accounts for conditions up to 124 PPM hydrogen equivalent concentration in the pressure tubes, he adds.

"The first reactor to likely reach a high point of 124 PPM hydrogen equivalent concentration in the pressure tubes, will be Unit 5 in approximately 2020 (245,000 to 250,000 EFPH)," states Saunders. "Ongoing research and development work that is in progress, is expected to demonstrate safe operation well beyond these limits.

"Results will be provided as they become available. Bruce Power continues to meet all applicable regulatory requirements and inform CNSC staff of any developments."

To read Bruce Power's entire report, click here.



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