OPG in the Community – January, 2020

Happy New Year! This promises to be an exciting year for Ontario Power Generation, with many great initiatives in the works to continue to supply Ontario with clean, reliable and low-cost electricity. We also wish you all the best in your endeavours this year – may 2020 bring you continued peace, prosperity and progress.

 DGR update:  On Friday, January 31st, members of Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) will vote on OPG’s proposed Deep Geologic Repository for low-and-intermediate level nuclear waste. OPG committed in 2013 that it would not proceed to construct the DGR without the support of SON.

If SON votes Yes to the DGR, OPG will continue to seek federal approval of the Environmental Assessment (EA). Bruce area residents may recall that a Federally appointed, independent Joint Review Panel (JRP) held a four-year review, with two years of public hearings in Kincardine, concluding in 2015 that the DGR would protect people, the lake and the environment and that the project should proceed “now rather than later.” Since then, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change has requested additional information, including an updated analysis of the project’s impact on the physical and cultural heritage of SON, with that analysis to be informed by the result of SON’s community process.

If SON votes No to the DGR, OPG will explore alternative options for permanent disposal. The timeline for a new project, from the search for a new willing host community (including municipal and Indigenous support) to implementation, could be 25 to 30 years.

Currently, the relatively low volume of low-and intermediate-level radioactive waste, from the past half-century of nuclear power generation in Ontario, is stored in warehouses and in-ground silos, mainly at the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce nuclear site. That is interim storage, safe and well-managed for the short and medium term, but it is not the solution for the very long term, given that buildings and containers would need to be maintained for thousands of years. Risks in perpetual storage at the surface include uncertainties about future societal conditions or extreme weather. The proposed DGR is a lake-protection measure, an environmental project that would safely isolate the waste 680 metres underground, in strong, dry and impermeable rock. That geologic formation – not under the lake, but three times deeper than the lake – has been isolated from any surface or groundwater for hundreds of millions of years, remaining intact even through continental shifts and multiple glaciers. It is ideally suited for a DGR.

OPG has engaged with SON for many years, on the basis of mutual respect, collaboration and trust. Over the past year, to support an informed vote on the project, OPG held 22 information sessions with SON members to answer questions on the DGR, while also engaging with SON leadership in regular meetings. OPG also continues to engage with Métis Nation of Ontario and Historic Saugeen Métis, on the DGR project and on existing waste operations at the Bruce site.

This past month, OPG distributed annual payments to Kincardine and four adjacent municipalities, in accordance with the 2004 DGR Hosting Agreement and 2018 Amending Agreement.  Around the world, it is considered best practice for host communities to receive economic benefits for such facilities, in recognition of their role in helping to provide lasting solutions. Similarly, OPG has made a DGR benefit offer to SON; details are considered confidential, but in broad terms it includes a role in DGR decision-making, financial benefits, and opportunities for SON members in DGR employment, training and procurement.

Meanwhile, another DGR is proposed to receive high-level waste, or used fuel, from all of Canada. A separate company, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), aims to select a suitable site for its repository by 2023.

Putting people and the environment first, OPG believes that the DGR at the Bruce site is the lasting solution for low and intermediate-level waste and is the right thing to do for future generations.

Get your free trees: They just need planting, care, and patience. The Pine River Watershed Initiative Network is ready to take your seedling orders for 2020 (see their website for details). In a program sponsored by OPG and others, you can choose from pine, cedar, spruce, red or white pine, tamarack, sugar, silver or red maple, red or white oak, black cherry and black walnut – 10 to a bundle.

Around Ontario and beyond:

·         Hockey proud: Millions of Canadians celebrated as Team Canada’s juniors won gold at the 2020 World Junior Championship this past Sunday. That victory was extra-special for one OPG employee and his family: Jay Dellandrea, a Senior Manager of Health and Safety Field Services at OPG, looked on with pride as his son Ty, an assistant captain for Team Canada, and his teammates took the championship.

·         Power record: On Sunday, Dec. 15, Unit 1 at OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station hit 688 days of consecutive operation, setting a generation record for the 3,512-megawatt station. It’s a “remarkable achievement” and a testament to the reliability of Darlington, which produces clean electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Sean Granville, OPG’s Chief Nuclear Officer.

·         Bright lights: Three innovative ideas have been recognized as among the best future-looking solutions for the energy industry, in the first OPG Generate Innovation Challenge. The program, launched in collaboration with MaRS Discovery District, looks for “innovative ways to deliver clean and reliable power in the most cost-effective way possible,” said Nicolle Butcher, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Business Development and Strategy at OPG. Cash prizes of $25,000 went to ideas that deploy new technologies – to collect data from remote hydro stations, help manage a large and diverse pool of human talent, and monitor equipment to determine when maintenance is needed.