Darlington Nuclear Generating Station
|Darlington Nuclear Generating Station|
|Construction cost||$14.4 billion CAD|
|Operator(s)||Ontario Power Generation (OPG)|
|Nuclear power station|
|Units operational||3512 MW
Darlington Nuclear Generating Station is a Canadian nuclear power station located on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Clarington, Ontario. The facility derives its name from the Township of Darlington, the former name of the municipality in which it is located. The Darlington station is a large nuclear facility and comprises 4 CANDU nuclear reactors located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, having a total output of 3,512 MWe (capacity net) when all units are online. It provides about 20 percent of Ontario's electricity needs, enough to serve a city of two million people. It is arguably one of the most advanced nuclear generating stations in the world.
Construction and operation
The facility was constructed in stages between 1981–1993 by the provincial Crown corporation, Ontario Hydro. Unit 2 was brought online in 1990, Unit 1 in 1992, and Units 3 and 4 in 1993. In April 1999 Ontario Hydro was split into 5 component Crown corporations with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) taking over all electrical generating stations and which continues to operate the Darlington station. The Darlington reactors have been among the best performing in OPG's CANDU fleet, including a top year in 2008 in which the plant achieved a combined 94.5% capacity factor.
After public hearings in December 2012, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced in February 2013 the renewal of Darlington's power reactor operating licence, for a period from March 1, 2013 until December 31, 2014.
To most Ontarians, the Darlington station is associated with the massive cost overruns incurred during its construction. The initial cost estimate for the station was $3.9 billion CAD in the late 1970s, which increased to $7.4 billion in 1981 when construction was started. A year-long period of public hearings and study by an Ontario government all-party committee finished in 1986 with the decision to proceed with the project, which had then risen to $7 billion in actual and committed costs. The final cost was $14.4 billion CAD, almost double the initial construction budget. The project was adversely affected by declining electricity demand forecasts, mounting debt of Ontario Hydro, and the Chernobyl disaster which necessitated safety reviews in mid-construction. Each delay incurred interest charges on debt, while ultimately accounted for 70% of the cost overruns. Inflation during 1977 to 1981 was 46 percent, according to Canada's Consumer Price index. In addition interest rates were running at 20 percent. A quarter of the costs were attributable to other errors. Improper choice of equipment and a six-month labour stoppage of electrical workers yielded some of these costs and delays. Discussion of who is to blame for the costs and subsequent debts associated with Darlington often arise during provincial election campaigns, and are often mentioned in anti-nuclear literature.
New build proposal
In 2006, OPG started the federal approvals process to build new nuclear units at the site of its Darlington Nuclear Station. The project proposal involved the construction and operation of up to four nuclear units, with capacity of up to 4,800 MW.
A request for proposals process for design and construction resulted in bids from Areva NP, Westinghouse, and AECL. In June 2009, the government of Ontario put the RFP process on hold, citing unexpectedly high bids, and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the only compliant bidder (AECL).
In August 2011, the three-member Joint Review Panel (mandated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) released a report finding that the Darlington new build project would not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts (after taking into account mitigation measures). Following the report, the federal government approved the Environmental Assessment.
In October 2013, the Ontario government declared that the Darlington new build project would not be a part of Ontario's long term energy plan, citing the high capital cost estimates and energy surplus in the province at the time of the announcement.
The Darlington new build project is currently deferred on the long term energy plan meaning the option is still open to build 2 new nuclear reactors at Darlington.
Low and intermediate level waste from Darlington is presently stored at the Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce nuclear site near Kincardine, Ontario. OPG has proposed the construction and operation of a deep geologic repository for the long-term storage of this low and intermediate level waste on lands adjacent to WWMF. Pending approvals and licensing by regulatory agencies, the DGR would commence construction in 2013 and operation in 2018.
The Darlington Waste Management Facility provides dry storage for the used fuel from Darlington, after an initial period in a water-filled storage bay. The facility was opened in 2007, reportedly on schedule and on budget. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is presently seeking a site in Canada for a permanent repository for used fuel from all of Canada's nuclear reactors.
Awards and recognition
2011: In December 2011 Darlington achieved 12 million hours without a lost time injury 
2009: William H. Howard Conservation, Education and Outreach Award (Wildlife Habitat Council) 
2008: International Corporate Habitat of the Year Award (Wildlife Habitat Council) 
2007: Performance Improvement Award (Institute of Nuclear Power Operators) 
2007: 20th Anniversary Signatures of Sustainability Award (Wildlife Habitat Council)
2005: International Corporate Habitat of the Year Award (Wildlife Habitat Council) 
- List of Canadian nuclear generating stations
- Fitzpatrick Nuclear Generating Station
- Nine Mile Point Nuclear Generating Station
- Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
- Bruce Nuclear Generating Station
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