Canadian NSC extends license of Darlington nuclear power plant

Following a two-part public hearing, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced Dec. 23 its decision to renew Ontario Power Generation’s Nuclear Power Reactor Operating License for the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

The license will be valid from Jan. 1, 2016, until Nov. 30, 2025. With this license renewal, the commission authorizes OPG to undertake the refurbishment and life extension of the four reactor units at the plant.

The commission also authorizes OPG to operate the Darlington NGS Units 1–4 beyond 210,000 equivalent full power hours up to the proposed refurbishment outages, to a maximum of 235,000 equivalent full power hours.

CNSC staff will provide annual regulatory oversight reports on the performance of the Darlington NGS and on the status of the refurbishment project and emergency planning, as part of the CNSC’s annual Regulatory Oversight Report for Canadian

Nuclear Power Plants. CNSC staff will present these reports at public proceedings of the commission.

The commission said it expects updates from OPG on the status of the refurbishment project following the return to service of each reactor unit. Furthermore, the commission directs OPG and CNSC staff to provide a more comprehensive update to the commission on the status of the refurbishment project following the return to service of the first reactor unit or by no later than the mid-term of the license period.

“This is the longest license ever granted to a Canadian nuclear power plant,” said Glenn Jager, OPG’s Nuclear President and Chief Nuclear Officer, in a Dec. 23 statement. “The license term reflects the strong performance of the Darlington station and the preparations OPG has made for refurbishment.”

OPG noted that the Conference Board of Canada crunched the numbers and determined the refurbishment would generate $10.76 billion in economic benefits to Ontario, and create an average of 8,800 jobs annually between 2010 and 2023.

“OPG has been preparing for the refurbishment since 2009,” said Jager. “Detailed planning is essential for a project of this size and duration. We’ve planned, practiced and prepared and now we’re ready to deliver this important clean power project on time and on budget.”

With a total capacity of 3,512 MW, this plant has been producing about 20 percent of the Canadian province’s electricity since the early 1990s. Darlington NGS has four operating CANDU reactors, which started commercial operation between 1990 and 1993.

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Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy's Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication's editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University.

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