It was another good-news day recently for Ontario Power Generation and for the workers at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station – the plant will keep the doors open and, more importantly, the lights on for Ontarians for another 10 years.
After Premier Doug Ford recently gave the Pickering power plant his full and unequivocal support to remain open, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) rendered a positive decision after hearings earlier this year in Ottawa and in Pickering on extending the licence to operate the plant for another 10 years. The decision will keep the 47-year-old facility (Pickering’s ‘A’ unit began operations in 1971) producing electricity until 2024, with the four years beyond that reserved for decommissioning operations.
In its decision, the CNSC — the federal regulator of nuclear power and materials in Canada – commented that OPG continues to be qualified to provide for the safe operation of the nuclear station until 2024, when it is decommissioned, followed by safe storage activities, such as removal of fuel and water, until 2028.
“The commission is of the opinion that OPG, in carrying on that activity, 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 CNSC said in a statement.
The continued operation of the plant makes sense in a number of ways. The new licence for the plant will allow for the continued support of the local Durham economy with the well-paying jobs that OPG offers, protecting 4,500 local jobs in addition to 3,000 other jobs that are dependent on the nuclear industry in Durham.
The move to grant the 10-year licence at OPG’s Pickering facility makes sense from a power generation perspective, too. The station underpins energy security within Ontario by providing power for 1.5 million homes every day and provides 14 per cent of electricity in the province. Pickering represents a large block of energy production that would be difficult to replace in the short term with the ongoing refurbishment at the Darlington nuclear station.
Suffice it to say, many of the anti-nuclear organizations were none too pleased with the CNSC decision, blasting the regulator for paying lip service to their concerns that were voiced at the hearings.
At the end of the day, however, the CNSC believes OPG is more than capable of fulfilling its mandate for the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to operate in a safe manner. And, with its safe operation as the primary focus, the plant can continue to generate needed electricity for Ontario and jobs in Durham during the 10-year span of its licence.