Notes from Eugene Bourgeois on the Bruce Newbuild Workshop #4 (November 6 , 2007)
About 50 people in attendance, including Jennifer Clark of CEAA, someone from EMO office, mayor of Kincardine and a number of others, Bruce County head of planning, Slobodan Janovich (?) And ? Clark of CNSC, someone from AECL, Chris Munn and someone else from public health, Ian Mitchell of MOE. Saugeen representatives (4), Ziggy Kleinau, some fisheries volunteer groups, ratepayers organisations, Marie Wilson of OPG, and numerous Bruce Power employees. Hosted by Golder and Ass.
Duncan Moffat of Golder began. He announced that by the end of October all the field work had been completed for the EIS. It should be ready in draft form by the spring of 2008, with a period of public consultation afterwards. The purpose of the Newbuild is to assist the Province in its perceived requirement of an extra 3,000 MW of nuclear power, once the Bruce rebuilds are complete. The Newbuild is multi-purpose, or rather, allows for multi-purpose options. At the moment, 6,200 MW for this site has been approved. Adding the Newbuild option of up to 4,000 MW (depending on design system chosen) allows Bruce Power to maximise its options: it can continue to furnish 6,200 MW to the province if it chooses to rebuild Bruce B at the end of its life, it can add to the 6,200 MW of power already approved with another 4300MW.
All the questions submitted at this workshop, and their answers, will be posted on Bruce Power's web site.
The point of this exercise is that Bruce Power is actually looking at operating 12 reactors on site for the long term. Bruce Power's current lease expires in 2018, with a right to extension for 25 years. Ultimately, the Province owns the reactors.
Question: Is the Province responsible for construction costs and design, in the event that the Bruce Power consortium abandons or is evicted from its operation? This question was asked in a round-about way, but not adequately and succinctly answered.
At the moment, there are 5 design systems being considered, and each design system has its own bounding plant envelope that is relative to its design. As an example, the Areva reactor uses uranium enriched to 4.5% U235 while the AECL reactor designs use natural uranium as low as .7% U235. Spent fuel is defined as the level of fuel consisting of U235 that is below the minimum required for that reactor to produce a fissionable response. [At lunch, I asked Slobodan of the CNSC to explain why spent fuel is spent fuel, because many people locally believe that spent fuel is something that is simply too hot for the reactor to handle. He explained that spent fuel is spent because the U235 has fallen below a threshold level, and not because the remaining fuel is not fissionable. It is, for all intents and purpose, waste and in no way reasonably reusable. Also at lunch, I suggested that a glossary of terms be offered, sort of like a Wikapoedia, relating to nuclear matters for ease of use by novices trying to understand these complex things.]
The heavy water designs require the use of large volumes of water to cool the reaction process. For each 1000 MW of power, the reactor requires 50 cu. m/sec for intake and discharge. The water, taken from the bottom of Lake Huron, enters the system at around 11C and leaves at 21C. This was deemed to be non-intrusive into the water system because: 1), most of the warm water stays near the shoreline (ie Inverhuron) and 2), when considered as intrusion on the lake as a whole, is primarily a non-event. The mixing zone of the discharge is in the area of kms to eliminate the thermal and current gradients. In each case, the systems are designed (as if this itself a benefit) such that both the intake and discharge are as low as possible (shades of ALARA). The discharge is at the surface, to benefit from heat dissipation to air, while intake is from the bottom of the Lake.
Used fuel is stored in pools for a maximum of 20 years , although at present they are moved to dry storage after 10 years. If the new NWMO plans for a deep geological repository for high level wastes is approved, then storage will be for 20 years to minimise handling of this waste material.
While heavy water reactor systems can operate continuously, light water systems need to be shut down periodically for 3 weeks for refueling, usually 1/3 of the reactor supply of fuel. The reference project for the Newbuild is the AECL reactor with water intake and gas switchyard, because this project represents the maximum impact effects. All significant features (such as storage) are about 50 m below grade. These generation 3 reactors are "safer" (my quotations) than existing reactors.
If, I wondered, the waste water from cooling is problematic to the Lake, even if only locally, why wouldn't this waste heat be given to Baie du Dore residents, who are right beside the reactor (and who had no one present at this workshop)? I raised this possibility at the workgroup later and Slobodan of CNSC said that 30C was not warm enough for radiant heating. The AECL girl added that she would just love to see 30C at Douglas Point where she works and Terry Brown suggested that Bruce Power might use some of this heat. I pointed out to Slobodan that Vieman, in Germany, has developed a heat pump that can extract this heat usefully for space heating at these tempreatures.
At the moment, there are about 3,700 employees, with a projected 3,000 to be added during construction at peak. Traffic became the issue of the moment and I asked what do we do about gridlock? This was sidestepped then, but it kept coming back during the workshop.
We learned that an EA is a planning tool to assist in planning before action is taken. I asked, since all the choices being considered for the addition of 3,000MW of power for the Province (and, I assumed, not just for Bruce Power) whether comparative site analyses were being considered in this process for this additional power by this consultant. The answer was short and swift: no.
Nonetheless, there are many things to consider, such as abiotic factors and ecosystems. In each of these cases, this project will consider the negative effects and how these can be mitigated. In addition, because there are two projects proceeding simultaneously, this project will be looking at the combined effects of the DGR and Newbuild.
At this point, we learned that this panel is not quite an independent panel of this project, but a joint panel of the CNSC and the CEAA. (Talk about independence.) Becaues this panel will be making representations to the Minister of the Environment about things nuclear, it was thought prudent to add panel members from the CNSC to be able to assist, I suppose, other panelists in making their directives to the Minister. (Doesn't this beg the question of why there is a panel review at all?) Both the Ministry of the Environment and the CNSC will create this panel: the MOE will appoint panelists and the Pres. of the CNSC will recommend some panelists. A typical panel (from Jennifer Clark, CEAA) consists of 3-5 members.
Larry Kramer, mayor of Kincardine, claimed that this panel approach is the most comprehensive possible under Canadian law. I need to question, in my comments (so that they are posted, if they are posted) whether the Provincial EA is more comprehensive. (I did do so at lunch and Slobodan presented a vigorous, but unaccepted, view that the 45 days for review and questions with no reasonable possibility of cross-examination was superior.)
For the purposes of this EIS, the Cty of Bruce is the study area. This projects does not expect direct effects at this regional scale, but there is the (remote) possibility that it could have cumulative effects.
The local study area (that sometimes seems to include us and at other times does not, instead referring only to the site boundaries) is the most important study area.
Golder presented the view that the area above the Algonquin Strandline (the land on top of the hill) was the most significant and the land below the strandline was marginal. I asked why Inverhuron was developed as an industrial and commercial site, complete with designated lots, if this was so. It seemed to me that historically, Inverhuron, as a hamlet, was far more significant than the land above the strandline, which was only agricultural, rather than multi-industrial. This was glossed over by Golder who did not want to hear these arguments about the significance of Inverhuron.
Historical facts were by and large considered to be those within the last 30 years and these would be addressed in greatest detail.
One of the participants commented that the lake water temperature this year has not yet flipped and is still at 61F (16C) at depths of up to 200m. Could this be further impacted by the discharge?
There were a number of general problems (infrastructure, education, medical, etc.) that Golder tried to slough off to the respective authorities, but these authorities continued to question why it was their responsibility.
Finally, Golder informed us that VEC's are important.
I think they have honestly placed the importance of VEC's! Last.
I had two further questions which I did not raise:
Is it important to identify issues relating to VEC's or is it important to resolve the issues relating to these VEC's?
If the Municipality cannot fund the extra infrastructure costs, does it have the option of not issuing building permits that allow for construction, instead of charging its ratepayers twice: first for the infrastructure charges, and secondly for the additional rates in electricity charges that all subscribers will pay?
Bruce Power spends $37 million on Steam Generator Recycling project
HILARY HOLMES of The Kincardine News Staff
Bruce Power is keeping Kincardine council well informed on it's plans for the $37 million Steam Generator Recycling project.
Bruce Power representatives Kirt Wigle and Murray Elston confirmed details to council at the July 7 council meeting, of the company's plans to recycle steam generators removed from Bruce instead of placing them into long term storage.
It will cost about $1 million per unit to transport. The complete recycling of 32 steam generators will cost $37 million.
“It’s not much more than a break even for us,” said Wigle. “The main purpose of the project is to reduce our environmental footprint.”
About 90 per cent of the metal from the steam generators can be decontaminated, melted down and sold back into the scrap metal market by Studsvik, a Swedish company that established the treatment and recycling of steam generators from nuclear reactors.
Ten per cent of the materials will be returned to Bruce Power for storage, due to international regulations concerning radioactive waste management. This method offers an economically smart approach to nuclear clean-up that is also environmentally responsible. The 10 per cent volume will be returned to Canada after about three years.
The generators are about 100 tonnes each, and measure 38 feet by 8 feet in size. Currently, they are stored in OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility.
Studsvik employees will be responsible for the transportation of the 16 steam generators as soon as they leave the Bruce Power site. The project will begin in September/October of this year to avoid busy summer traffic.
Only one steam generator will be transported per day due to oversize load regulations. It will take at least 22 days to move the generators from Bruce Power to the Owen Sound harbour. The movement of these large objects can only occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on weekdays.
The route has been planned to avoid certain bridges and high traffic areas. Emergency service vehicles will accompany the steam generators, and Bruce Power will comply with all safety regulations of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Once the generators make the on-land journey to Owen Sound, all 16 of them will be loaded on the MV Palessa, a ship engineered to carry heavy loads. The MV Palessa will traverse through the Great Lakes and up the St. Lawrence river before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to Sweden. At this point the only employees that will monitor the entire transport are Studsvik personnel.
Councillor Randy Roppel questioned the safety of the project and asked if the public had been consulted on the route to be followed.
“ There are people out there who are skeptical of the nuclear industry. Have you contacted those individuals who are concerned about the move," asked Roppel.
“We are complying with all public safety standards,” said Elston.
In addition to guidelines set by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Bruce Power has consulted with local governments in order to effectively transport the steam generators in a secure way.
The effects of low-level waste exposure are extremely minute, and Bruce Power guarantees that they are doing everything they can to ensure safety.
A 6 millimeter epoxy coating will be painted on to the unit to prevent leaching of low-level radioactive waste into the local environment. Saddles and tie-downs will secure the generators.
A few councillors publicized their concern for the immense cost of the project. “$37 million is a crazy amount of money,” said Councillor Ron Hewitt.
He questioned why there is no similar process that can be completed in North America, in order to avoid the cost of transporting the units.
Elston said there is no North American company that can do anything comparable to Studsvik.
This option is beneficial to all involved parties. The 90 per cent of the recycled materials will be sold back into industry as raw materials by Studsvik.
Bruce Power will decrease their ecological footprint, prevent the generators from being placed in a depository, and move them out of the Western Waste Management Facility. Although this is a first-time opportunity for Bruce Power, Studsvik has been recycling low-level nuclear waste for a very long time.
“We are confident in Studsvik. They’re the experts,” said Elston.
Video showing the removal of the steam generators from the reactors is available on the Bruce Power website.
More information on the recycling of the generators is available on the Studsvik website.
All Bruce nuclear units to be refit
Six more units at the Bruce Power site "will undergo refurbishment as part of Ontario's updated Long-Term Energy Plan,"Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell said Tuesday.
"I can tell you that being the member from Huron-Bruce that it's a very good day," Mitchell, who is also the Liberal government's minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, said in an interview. "This ensures thousands of jobs on our Bruce site for decades."
Bruce Power is currently refurbishing two nuclear generating units. "What this policy discussion allows to happen now is more in-depth discussion with the OPA ( Ontario Power Authority) around the refurbishing of the rest of the units and how that gets co-ordinated with other nuclear activities in the province," Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power's president and chief executive officer, said.
The cost to refurbish the remaining six units is estimated at $ 12 billion over 12 years, Mitchell said. Once all eight units are refurbished, Bruce Power will be capable of producing 6,300 megawatts of nuclear power.
The $12 billion cost --$2 billion per unit --"is a fair number" to put on the work, Hawthorne said.
But, he added, " no one's signing a $ 12-billion deal today... People like yourself say ' What's it going to cost?' and we say a reasonable estimate at this stage is $12 billion. But that's what it is, a reasonable estimate. Once we get to contract stage we'll have much more definition on it. That's what we have to do over the next period."
Plan to secure jobs in area over next 20 yrs
Ontario's nuclear generation," Mitchell said in a news release.
Critics of nuclear power were quick to condemn any refurbishment project as " nuclear lunacy."
There is " no convincing economic, technical or environmental rationale to build or refurbish nuclear reactors. Demand isn't growing and technology is already changing the nature of Ontario's electricity needs. The cost of handling radioactive waste for thousands of years should alone give us pause," Sierra Club Canada said in a news release.
"I've now seen three generations of politicians and three different political parties make the same mistakes," said John Bennett, the club's executive director.
"Ontario's skyrocketing electricity rates are being driven by the mistakes made by politicians who committed the province to nuclear power without listening to all the facts . . . Thirty years ago I pasted a banner on the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant. It read, Nuclear Power: not safe, not economic, not necessary.' It was true then and it's true now, Bennett said in a news release.
A release from Duguid's office said under the plan also allows for the province to:
• Close all coal units by 2014 and fast-track the closure of two more coal units in 2011, three years ahead of schedule.
• Create 50,000 jobs in Ontario's growing clean energy economy.
• Increase Ontario's power supply from renewable sources like wind, solar and bio-energy to 13% by 2018, up from 3% today.
• Build the largest expansion in hydroelectric power in almost 40 years with projects to get more power from Niagara Falls and the Lower Mattagami River.
Bruce Power CEO saysJapanese nuclear plant crisis is not a disaster
for the whole industry
By Liz Dadson
While the crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is devastating for that country, it does not spell disaster for the entire nuclear industry.
That's the word from Bruce Power president and chief executive officer Duncan Hawthorne, who is also chairman of the Atlanta regional office of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
Speaking by conference call to the local press yesterday (March 14), Hawthorne said the Japanese nuclear plant did exactly what it was designed to do in response to an 8.9-magnitude earthquake. However, the tsunami that followed damaged the plant's back-up cooling system and washed away the back-up diesel engines.
"You have to bear in mind that the earthquake and tsunami were of record proportions," said Hawthorne. "It was a catastrophic event. Now, the focus is on the safety of the nuclear plant."
He said there are six units at Fukushima - three operational and the other three on planned outages. Unit 1 is of major concern because of the low water level in the reactor.
"The fuel puts out a tremendous amount of heat," said Hawthorne. "With the increased heat and no cooling system, you get increased pressure in the reactor."
To deal with this high pressure, operators have been venting off some of the pressure between the primary and secondary containment units, said Hawthorne. During that process, some hydrogen gas could be present.
Hawthorne believes that's what caused the explosion that blew the top off the secondary containment unit - as seen in numerous photos of the power plant.
Operators are now cooling the reactor with sea water using fire pumps, said Hawthorne. "The focus is to keep the reactor cool and try to get the water level back up."
In response to questions, Hawthorne said the Japanese plant has a "boiling water" reactor design, which is different than the CANDU reactor. The Japanese model requires a lot of fuel and not much water, uses enriched fuel, and has no steam generator. The CANDU reactor requires a little fuel and a lot of water, uses natural uranium for fuel, and has steam generators.
Regarding concerns about a meltdown, Hawthorne said provided operators keep coolant going into the reactor, and keep the core covered, there should be no concerns.
"There are 15,000 tremors and earthquakes annually in Japan," he said. "This power plant was designed to withstand major seismic events. The containment held up well and that's significant. The key is to keep the reactor cool. There are three operational units at the plant and the operators have to pay attention to them all."
As for the impact on the nuclear industry, Hawthorne said there have been scientific responses and emotional responses.
"Everybody in the nuclear industry understands that Japan has seismic activity," he said. "It's on the Rim of Fire. It's a high-risk area for building plants. Here, in Ontario, we don't have the same risk in terms of plant design."
Hawthorne said in the wake of the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, the design of nuclear plants was changed. "After this (crisis in Japan), there will be 'lessons to be learned' for the nuclear industry."
He noted that with the Chernobyl accident and the Three-Mile Island partial core meltdown in the United States, the problem was inside the plant. "In this event, it's a response to an external natural disaster."
Hawthorne added that the Japanese power plant was designed to withstand an earthquake, as well as a 5.9-magnitude tsunami. The tsunami that hit was a 6.4-magnitude.
He said there are international standards established for nuclear plant response during natural disasters.
"The closest the Bruce site has ever experienced (to the Japanese crisis) was during the black-out in August of 2003," said Hawthorne. "The Bruce plant did its job. All of Bruce B was operational at that time. When it was suddenly disconnected from the electrical grid (black-out), all the cooling systems worked, and the plant withstood a similar situation to what happened in Japan."
He said Bruce Power has a standby electrical supply through diesel generators, and a back-up battery power supply.
The CANDU unit is an all-water-based reactor. The major concern for it would be a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA), said Hawthorne, so it is designed with several safety features to respond to that.
The emotional reaction to the nuclear industry is strong in the wake of the Japanese crisis, said Hawthorne. "The story goes around about a core meltdown, but it's from those who oppose nuclear technology. This is their chance to stick it to the technology and spread their alarmist rhetoric."
He said it's important that the facts be allowed to emerge. "The plant responded as it was designed. In fact, the buildings look as if they hadn't been touched by the earthquake, while all around there is total devastation."
When asked about the volatility of the fuel bays at the plant, Hawthorne said the operators must deal with the crisis one issue at a time.
"For example, if I'm taken to the hospital with a broken leg and a broken arm, and a spike driven into my chest, the doctors will have to deal with the spike first before worrying about the rest," said Hawthorne, adding that the problem in the fuel bay will be dealt with after the cooling of the reactor and restoring the water level in the reactor.
As for any assistance from WANO, Hawthorne said that Japan has a mature nuclear industry, with 54 nuclear reactors. "We can help by offering moral support and by explaining the story of what has happened."
He added that some employees have been working so hard to deal with the crisis at the plant, that they have not even been home to find out what has happened to their families. "Some employees watched as their co-workers disappeared in the tsunami. It's a very stressful situation. If they need people to provide relief, we're there for them."
When asked about alarm systems and emergency plans at the Bruce Nuclear site, Hawthorne said these are a requirement of the operating licence.
"We do emergency plan drills on-site on a regular basis, and we do them off-site every two years, observed by the regulator," he said.
In a statement posted to its website, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said it "would like to reassure Canadians that nuclear power plants located in Canada are among the most robust designs in the world and have redundant safety systems to prevent damage in the case of an earthquake.'
Bruce Power delays steam generator shipment
Bruce Power will delay plans to ship 16 steam generators to Sweden for recycling to allow further discussion with First Nations, Métis and others seeking additional information.
"While recycling this material is the right thing to do, and our regulator has given us a license to proceed, we recognize there is a level of concern among some groups that we want to address before proceeding," said Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power's President and Chief Executive Officer.
"Throughout this process, we have tried to communicate meaningful information to legitimate, interested parties. As far as we're concerned, we've successfully met our regulatory obligations, but have not yet met our own standard of providing information to some of those legitimate groups, particularly the First Nations and Métis. For that reason, we have chosen to delay the shipments to allow that information flow to take place."
Bruce Power will not set a date for shipping the decommissioned steam generators, but will take the necessary time to meet with First Nation and Métis groups to answer any questions they may have about the project.
"The important thing is we do this right, not that we do it quickly," Hawthorne said.
To reduce its environmental footprint, Bruce Power intends to recycle the decommissioned steam generators instead of placing them into long-term storage. Approximately 90 per cent of the metal in the steam generators can be decontaminated, melted down and sold back into the scrap metal market. The rest will be returned to the Bruce Power site for long-term storage. Each steam generator contains 100 tonnes of steel but less than 4 grams of radioactive substances.
On Feb. 4, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) issued a transport licence and certificate to Bruce Power after considering information presented by 77 intervenors during public hearings last September. In making its decision, the CNSC confirmed the risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment is negligible.
Following that public hearing, Bruce Power launched an information website to provide additional, factual information about its recycling plans. Through public opinion polling, the company found strong public support for its plans within Grey and Bruce Counties.
"It is our view that reasonable people, when given accurate information, will see the merits of our case," Hawthorne said.
For more information visit www.rightthingtodo.ca
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