Back to the future: More Ontario Power Generation (OPG) employees were returning to the workplace throughout June, including office workers at the Western Waste Management Facility within the Bruce nuclear site. I’m among them, and am personally enjoying the “new normal,” getting back to my regular desk and collaborating with colleagues on exciting projects, while observing all necessary safety protocols amid the COVID-19 challenge.
Of course, throughout the pandemic, many OPG employees continued to work at hydro installations and nuclear stations, to help keep the lights on in Ontario. Let’s recognize and appreciate our field workers’ dedication to an essential service: providing electricity to homes, businesses and hospitals.
Those of us who just returned to site, after three months of working from home, found it a changed environment. Readiness teams had posted signs that remind us to keep two metres distant from co-workers, use hand-sanitizing stations at entrances, regularly apply disinfectant wipes to common touch points such photocopiers and handrails, and observe lower occupancy limits in lunch areas and meeting rooms.
Safety has always been top priority in our business, so naturally we’re following the rules to keep ourselves and others protected from the virus. We’re doing everything we should to #PowerOn together!
DGR formalities: This past month, OPG took steps to notify federal regulators it is ending plans for the Deep Geologic Repository (DGR), a facility that would have been built at the Bruce site for safe and permanent disposal of low- and intermediate-level waste. Project closure includes cancelling the Environmental Assessment and withdrawing an application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a construction licence. The DGR project was discontinued following a First Nations vote in January not to support it. OPG remains committed to finding lasting solutions for the waste, and is moving forward to develop alternate solutions.
Around Ontario and beyond:
· Small beginnings: OPG is joining a venture with two other companies to build, own, and operate a Micro Modular Reactor at the Chalk River Laboratories site. The other companies are Global First Power Ltd. and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation. “We are excited about the advancement of low-carbon, small modular reactors in Canada and see them as an innovative growth opportunity for our company, one that fits well with our existing clean-energy portfolio,” said Ken Hartwick, President and CEO of OPG.
· 10,000 shields: OPG has donated 10,000 of its 3D-printed face shields for distribution to Indigenous communities and organizations throughout the province. The donation was made in advance of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Sunday, June 21, “an important day for us to recognize the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of Indigenous peoples,” said Ian Jacobsen, Director of Indigenous Relations for OPG.
· Partners in mental health: OPG is teaming up with Jack.org to distribute Be There, a digital mental-health resource, to reach thousands more young Ontarians during COVID-19 and beyond. Since launching last year, Be There has been used by over 290,000 people across Canada, and received two Webby Awards as Top Health Website in the world.