Ontario Power Generation (OPG) appears to be extending the operating life of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station beyond its intended expiration date once again.
OPG is proposing to have four of the plant’s six functioning reactors operate for one extra year through the end of 2025.
This isn’t the first time the plant was given a shutdown schedule but had its life cycle extended instead. OPG initially planned to shut down the plant in 2014, but chose to invest $300 million to keep the reactors going for another decade.
According to OPG’s license, which was renewed in 2018, operations were to cease at the facility by Dec. 31, 2024, and, with the reactors set to be defueled and dewatered between 2025 and 2028. The station will then be gradually decommissioned over four decades.
However, Minister of Energy Greg Rickford recently announced OPG’s latest proposal.
OPG officials believe a longer phaseout timeline will better transition the 4,500 employees at the Pickering plant.
The plant presently supplies 14 per cent of the province’s power, and nuclear generation accounts for 60 per cent of power across Ontario.
An official announcement regarding the revised schedule has yet to be made, but Rickford says there will public consultations on the proposal.
Durham regional council previously expressed concerns over the planned decommissioning of the plant.
Before her term as regional chair came to an end, Gerri Lynn O’Connor expressed concern about the environmental impacts of the decommissioning.
“Almost 50 per cent of the used nuclear fuel in Ontario is presently stored in our region in licensed, ‘interim’ above-ground facilities, directly on the shore of Lake Ontario,” O’Connor wrote in a letter to Catherine McKenna, former federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change back in 2018.
She pointed out nuclear waste could remain at the Pickering plant for up to another 60 years.
In an e-mail to The Oshawa Express, Greenpeace Canada’s program director Shawn-Patrick Stensil expressed displeasure about how the situation unfolded.
“This secretive decision by the Ford government puts Ontarians at greater risk, as the Pickering nuclear station is now proposed to be operated over a decade past its best-before date,” he says. “The short-term electoral calculus may add up, but any transparent economic or risk assessment would opt for replacing this obsolete plant with safe, lower-cost renewable energy.