Douglas Point Banner October 2019

Decommissioning the Douglas Point Prototype Reactor

The Douglas Point Nuclear Generating Station was Canada’s first full-scale nuclear power plant. It was a joint project between Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), as owner, and Ontario Hydro (now Ontario Power Generation), as operator.

The 200 megawatt CANDU® reactor ran from 1967 until 1984 when it was permanently shut down having achieved its objectives. As a prototype nuclear reactor, Douglas Point demonstrated that a CANDU® nuclear plant could be scaled up for commercial power generation, a legacy that helped Ontario get where we are today with roughly half our energy coming from clean, reliable, low-cost nuclear power.

By 1986, the fuel had been removed and reactor coolant drained in accordance with regulatory requirements. The fuel was transferred to dry storage by the end of 1987. Since then the facility has been in a safe shutdown state, referred to as the “storage with surveillance” phase of decommissioning.

The next phase of decommissioning is being planned to both reduce and minimize the risks to the health, safety and security of the public, workers and the environment.

Final decommissioning will eventually lead to the removal of the entire facility.

Where is the Douglas Point located? 

The facility, consisting of the permanently shut down, partially decommissioned prototype CANDU® reactor and its associated structures and ancillaries, is located on the Bruce Power site (which is owned by the provincial Crown corporation, Ontario Power Generation) in Bruce County on the east shore of Lake Huron in the Province of Ontario.  

What was the purpose of the Douglas Point Nuclear Generating Station?

The Douglas Point Nuclear Generating Station played an important part in Canada’s history. It was the first commercial scale Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU®) reactor. The Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor proved the CANDU® concept in 1962 and the 200 megawatt Douglas Point plant, ten times larger than NPD, demonstrated that a CANDU® nuclear power plant could be scaled up for commercial energy generation. The advances made at Douglas Point provided the province of Ontario with reliable energy supply and contributed to the success of larger CANDU® plants in Canada and internationally.

Why is CNL responsible for a reactor located at the Bruce Power site?

The Douglas Point Waste Facility is owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal Crown corporation. Douglas Point was the first nuclear facility in the region. Now, the site is surrounded by the Bruce Power site, the largest operating nuclear generating facility in the world.
 
Decommissioning Douglas Point is an environmental remediation project conducted by CNL on behalf of and funded by AECL, the owner. CNL has the responsibility to manage all of AECL’s sites and assets through a government-owned, contractor-operated (GoCo) model.

What is the plan?

Presently, the Douglas Point facility remains in a “storage-with-surveillance” state.  Eventually, CNL’s plan is to remove the facility.
 
The planning for the next phase of decommissioning is underway to both reduce and minimize the risks to the health, safety and security of the public, workers and the environment.

What are the next steps?

Further decommissioning will only proceed if it satisfies the strict requirements set out by Canada’s independent nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

CNL has submitted an application for a licence amendment to the CNSC to proceed to the next step of decommissioning the Douglas Point Waste Facility. The hearing for the licence amendment is planned for spring 2020. This amendment, if granted, is necessary for the next phase of decommissioning activities to commence, but the amendment alone is not sufficient to complete decommissioning. Many additional detailed decommissioning plans and environmental reviews will be required. These additional requirements will involve public and Indigenous engagement and participation in the regulatory decision process.
  
The removal of the reactor building and the spent fuel canisters is not scheduled to occur until after 2030.

Over the next few decades, input from the public and Indigenous groups will be essential to planning and implementing the project.

The CNSC has information on how to participate in hearing here: http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/the-commission/hearings/participate/index.cfm

 

Where will the waste go?

All waste from decommissioning activities for the Douglas Point facility is carefully categorized or “characterized” and each type of waste will be managed in an appropriate way according to waste type.

Radioactive waste (i.e. contaminated soil, contaminated demolition debris, used fuel):
 
Low and intermediate-level radioactive waste from the decommissioning of the Douglas Point facility will be packaged in licensed containers and safely transported to the Chalk River site.
 
Given the stringent safety, security and licensing requirements that govern waste facilities, it makes sense to consolidate all radioactive waste in one facility, at the Chalk River Laboratories site.

As for the used fuel, in Canada, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has the mandate for designing and implementing the plan for the safe, long-term management of spent nuclear fuel. All used fuel from the Douglas Point Waste Facility is destined for the repository that the NWMO is responsible for planning and building.

Non-radioactive waste (i.e. demolition debris from the administration building):
 
Clean waste, which is waste that is characterized and found to be not radioactive, will be recycled where possible and where not, sent to licensed local landfills.

Clean recyclable waste such as, scrap metal and cardboard, is sent off site to recycling facilities.

Designated substances (i.e. asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, asphalt roofing material, hydrocarbons and other kinds of hazardous waste often found on industrial sites):
 
Designated substances are sent off site to special facilities that are licensed to receive and handle this type of industrial waste.