OPG​ in Bruce County – Community Update – July 2020

   Fred Kuntz

Embracing the 3 Rs: Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has entered a research agreement with McMaster University, through its commercial subsidiary, Laurentis Energy Partners. Together the two organizations will  explore new technologies that support reducing, re-using and recycling nuclear byproducts.

Employees at OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce site, have a role in this initiative, helping to deliver materials to the research laboratory being developed in Hamilton.

The materials, classified as low-level, are collected from the day-to-day operations of OPG-owned nuclear generating stations; they include worker garments and gloves, mops, rags, small tools, plastic, paper and wood. So far, such materials have been sorted by hand, to see what can be incinerated or compacted, free-released as clean materials, or recycled. New methods could make the sorting process more efficient, benefiting the entire nuclear industry, even beyond Ontario or Canada.

Innovations emerging from the research could also inform a new sorting building at the WWMF, currently in the design stage, as envisioned in the facility’s current 10-year licence. It’s all important work, to reduce our environment footprint and demonstrate that nuclear is clean energy – a zero-carbon source of electricity, and a vital tool in the global fight against climate change.


Hospital donation: OPG’s Corporate Citizenship Program (CCP) has donated $5,000 to Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation which, with help from multiple donors, purchased a new Phillips Epic ultrasound machine for the Diagnostic Imaging Department. “Staff are loving the new machine, which is faster and more efficient, and also allows for better mobility to do portable beside imaging with improved resolution,” a statement from the Foundation said. Around the Bruce area, OPG’s CCP sponsorships go to more than 70 communities initiatives, programs and not-for-profit groups each year, with a priority on the environment, science and education and cultural events.

Focus on efficiency:  OPG continually seeks ways to work more efficiently, which in turn helps mitigate rates for electricity. That includes a focus on value for money at the WWMF. Recent initiatives include changes in welding processes to save on time and materials; the introduction of new racks for storing lids for bins (which saves on space and use of skids), and locally implementing a Darlington employee’s invention of a small nylon plug to save a step in processing used-fuel containers – to name just a few savings. The efficiencies all add up, helping OPG to be a provider of low-cost power.


For the record: Federal authorities have posted online two letters from OPG to discontinue the project for a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low- and intermediate-level waste, which would have been built at the Bruce site. This includes one letter to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and a separate letter to the nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which together state OPG’s reasons and next steps. OPG remains committed to safe, permanent disposal of nuclear byproducts, and is moving forward to develop lasting solutions. Meanwhile, as the correspondence states, OPG is “continuing our efforts to minimize the production of all wastes, taking into consideration the health and safety of the public, workers and protection of the environment.”

Around Ontario and beyond:


·       Long may you run: Unit 1 at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station has set a North American record for consecutive days of operation, hitting 895 straight days this past Thursday, July 9, and still counting. Pickering Nuclear’s Unit 7 held the previous record at 894 days. Darlington Unit 1 has been online since January 26, 2018 – providing nearly two and a half years of continuous, clean, affordable, and reliable electricity for Ontario. “Unit 1’s remarkable run is a reflection of the strong dedication and commitment of our employees to drive efficient and robust performance from our generating units for the benefit of all Ontarians,” said Sean Granville, OPG’s Chief Nuclear Officer.

·       Pickering success: The 515-megawatt Unit 1 at OPG’s Pickering Nuclear Generating Station recently returned to service, completing an outage for scheduled maintenance that began in January. One big challenge to this job was “the onset of the pandemic,” said Colin MacDonald, Outage Manager at Pickering Nuclear. But the Pickering team “rallied around one common goal, to complete this project safely and efficiently,” logging 247,440 hours of work with no COVID-19 transmissions, or injuries, recorded.

·       Renewal in Renfrew: Work has begun on OPG’s new Calabogie Generating Station, along the Madawaska River near Renfrew in eastern Ontario, for completion by 2022. “We’re excited to rebuild one of our oldest generating stations, especially during these unprecedented times,” said Mike Martelli, OPG’s President of Renewable Generation. The old Calabogie station, built in 1917, was damaged by a tornado in 2018. The $100 million project will double the station’s capacity to 10 MW – enough clean, low-cost power for 10,000 homes.