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Canada’s nuclear regulator allows Pickering nuclear reactors to operate past their design limit

safety-symbol1flag-canadaPickering nuclear reactors can exceed design operating limit Canada’s nuclear regulator will allow reactors at the Pickering nuclear station to operate past their design limit. The Star, By:  Business reporter, Published on Tue Jun 03 2014 Canada’s nuclear regulator says reactors at the Pickering power station will be allowed to operate beyond their stated design limit.

But the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has ordered Ontario Power Generation to present further detailed information about the station at a meeting in August.

One of the six active reactors at Pickering would have had to shut down later this month had the commission not made its decision, released Tuesday. Others are also nearing their limit.

The pressure tubes in the reactors – which hold the uranium fuel – have a design life of operating for 210,000 “equivalent full power hours.” OPG is not allowed to operate them past that limit.

OPG has asked the nuclear safety commission to extend the operating limit to 247,000 hours. The company wants to extend Pickering’s life to about 2020, but wants to do so without performing the expensive and lengthy task of replacing all the pressure tubes in the reactors……….

Environmental groups that had appeared before the commission had argued that the limit shouldn’t be exceeded because OPG’s emergency plans for a serious nuclear accident and a wide-spread release of radiation are inadequate.

“The fact they’re asking OPG to do this additional work for August is pretty significant,” said Theresa McCleneghan of the Canadian Environmental Law Association…….

Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace said it’s “irresponsible” to still be running the Pickering plant.

People living near the plant don’t know enough about emergency plans in the event of an accident, he said.

He said the commission’s decision to extend the hours of operation is “kicking the can down the road.”

The province doesn’t need the output of the reactor that was about to hit the 210,000-hour limit Stensil said.

In fact, he noted that even with the warm weather on Tuesday, Ontario was exporting 2,000 megawatts of power – or the equivalent of about four Pickering reactors.

“We could be reducing risk much more tangibly just by shutting down reactors that we don’t need,” he said. http://www.thestar.com/business/economy/2014/06/03/pickering_nuclear_reactors_can_exceed_design_operating_limit.html

June 4, 2014 - Posted by | Canada, safety

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