Response to Ottawa Citizen article entitled “Decaying concrete worries safety officials” published on July 9
Canadian nuclear power plants are safe
July 10, 2012
I am compelled to respond to the Ottawa Citizen’s July 9 article, 2012, “Decaying concrete worries nuclear safety officials” regarding concrete degradation at Canadian nuclear power plants (NPPs).
As part of its mandate, the CNSC undertakes independent research to ensure the technical knowledge is available for future regulatory decisions. As many of the Canadian reactors are expected to operate for several more decades, the CNSC is undertaking forward-looking research to ensure that there will continue to be no concern for concrete structures over that time period.
The ageing management of concrete is not a new discovery. Through its regulatory oversight, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) verifies all concrete structures at NPPs, including the on-site inspection and testing of the integrity of containment buildings at every facility. It is for this reason that the Commission approved the restart of the Bruce Power and Point Lepreau power plants after their refurbishment.
The reporter also gives the mistaken impression that the Commission approved Hydro-Québec’s Gentilly-2 operating licence in 2011 without regard for the safety of the public, the environment and the workers. Let me reassure your readers and all Canadians that the CNSC would not authorize any facility to operate if the concrete structures were deemed to be unsafe.
Furthermore, your reporter neglects to mention that, although the licence period for Gentilly-2 comes to an end in 2016, Hydro-Québec must place the reactor in a shutdown state for refurbishment or for the guaranteed shutdown state by December 31, 2012, in less than six months time.
CNSC takes seriously the long-term issue of concrete degradation at nuclear facilities. Let me reiterate that there is no impact on the safety of any of Canada's nuclear facilities. These facilities are licensed by the Commission because they continue to be safe.
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission