Nuclear power in Canada
|Electricity generation in Canada|
Canada has reactors for commercial power generation, for research and to produce radioactive isotopes for nuclear medicine. Canadian reactor designs are used in Argentina, Republic of Korea, Peoples Republic of China and Romania.
The nuclear industry (as distinct from the uranium industry) in Canada dates back to 1942 when a joint British-Canadian laboratory, the Montreal Laboratory, was set up in Montreal, Quebec, under the administration of the National Research Council of Canada, to develop a design for a heavy-water nuclear reactor. This reactor was called National Research Experimental and would be the most powerful research reactor in the world when completed. In the meantime, in 1944, approval was given to proceed with the construction of the smaller ZEEP (Zero Energy Experimental Pile) test reactor at Chalk River, Ontario and on September 5, 1945 at 3:45 p.m., the 10 Watt ZEEP successfully achieved the first self-sustained nuclear reaction outside the United States.
In 1946, the Montreal Laboratory was closed, and the work continued at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories. Building partly on the experimental data obtained from ZEEP, the National Research Experimental (NRX)—a natural uranium, heavy water moderated research reactor—started up on July 22, 1947. It operated for 43 years, producing radioisotopes, undertaking fuels and materials development work for CANDU reactors, and providing neutrons for physics experiments. It was eventually joined in 1957 by the larger 200 megawatt (MW) National Research Universal reactor (NRU).
In 1952, the Canadian government formed AECL, a Crown corporation with the mandate to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy. A partnership was formed between AECL, Ontario Hydro and Canadian General Electric to build Canada's first nuclear power plant, called NPD for Nuclear Power Demonstration. The 20 MWe NPD started operation in 1962 and successfully demonstrated the unique concepts of on-power refuelling using natural uranium fuel, and heavy water moderator and coolant. These features formed the basis of a fleet of CANDU power reactors (CANDU is an acronym for CANada Deuterium Uranium) built and operated in Canada and elsewhere.
In the late 1960s (1967–1970), Canada also developed an experimental miniature nuclear reactor named SLOWPOKE (acronym for Safe Low-Power Kritical Experiment). The first prototype was built at Chalk River and many SLOWPOKEs were subsequently built, mainly for research. Many SLOWPOKEs are still in use in Canada; there is one running at École Polytechnique de Montréal, for instance.
Current Power Reactors 
- UNIT 1 – 515 MW CANDU
- UNIT 2 – 515 MW CANDU (Currently out of service)
- UNIT 3 – 515 MW CANDU (Currently out of service)
- UNIT 4 – 515 MW CANDU
New Brunswick 
- UNIT 1 – 660 MW CANDU-6
Decommissioned Reactors 
- Nuclear Power Demonstrator (Rolphton, Ontario) 1 decommissioned prototype
- Douglas Point (Tiverton, Ontario) 1 decommissioned large prototype
- UNIT 1 – 275 MW CANDU-BWR (Shutdown in 1979)
- UNIT 2 – 675 MW CANDU-6 (shutdown in 2012)
Research Reactors 
- Chalk River Laboratories
- MMIR-1 – MAPLE class medical isotope production reactor – built,incomplete commissioning, no operating license
- MMIR-2 – MAPLE class medical isotope production reactor – built,incomplete commissioning, no operating license
- NRU – 135 MW reactor used for research and medical isotope production
- NRX reactor – (1947–1992) One of the highest flux reactors in the world until shutdown
- SLOWPOKE-1 prototype, moved to University of Toronto, later upgraded to SLOWPOKE-2 - decommissioned
- PTR – pool test reactor (shut down in 1990)
- ZED-2 – zero-energy reactor
- ZEEP – The first nuclear reactor in Canada, and first outside the United States
- Whiteshell Laboratories
- Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor – decommissioned (2009); dismantled (2011)
- Kanata – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor (shut down in 1989)
- Tunney's Pasture – Ottawa, Ontario - SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor prototype?, (shutdown in 1984)
- École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor
- McMaster Nuclear Reactor, Hamilton, Ontario. – 5 MWth MTR class reactor
- Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor
- Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor
- University of Alberta, Edmonton – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor
- University of Toronto – SLOWPOKE-2 class reactor (shut down in 2001)
Notable accidents 
Chalk River, 1952 and 1958 
"A power surge and partial loss of coolant led to significant damage to the NRX reactor core in 1952. It was the world's first major nuclear reactor disaster, and it resulted in 4.5 tonnes of radioactive water collecting in the cellar of the building. In 1958, a fuel rupture in the reactor led to a fire and complete contamination of the NRU building. The military was called in both times to aid in the cleanup".
Pickering, 1974 and 1983 
"The most serious nuclear accidents in Canada happened at the Pickering facility east of Toronto, in 1974 and in 1983. In each case, pressure tubes — which hold fuel rods — ruptured. Some coolant escaped, but was recovered before it left the plant, and there was no release of radioactive material from the containment building".
Darlington, 2009 
In 2009, more than 200,000 litres of water containing trace amounts of tritium and hydrazine spilled into Lake Ontario after workers accidentally filled the wrong tank with tritiated water. The level of the isotope in the lake was not enough to pose harm to residents.
Point Lepreau, 2011 
On December 13, 2011, there was a radioactive spill at New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear generating station. Up to six litres of heavy water splashed to the floor, forcing an evacuation of the reactor building and halt of operations. Then, on December 14, NB Power issued a news release, admitting there had been another type of spill three weeks earlier. The head of Canada's Nuclear Safety Commission said the two spills are "unsettling".
Public opinion 
According to a 2012 poll by Innovative Research Group, on behalf of the Canadian Nuclear Association, 37% of Canadians are in favour of nuclear power, while 53% oppose it. Both of these figures represent a drop from 2011 (38% and 56% respectively), and the population that neither supports nor opposes or did not know their opinion has grown to 9%. Support ranges from a high of 54% in Ontario to a low of 12% in Quebec. Other notable demographic details include men being generally more supportive of nuclear power than women, and older populations being slightly more supportive than younger populations. There was not a significant change in opposition to nuclear power in Canada following the March 2011 events at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (from 54% to 56%), and the issue was followed at least somewhat closely by 70% of Canadians polled.
Environmental assessments are currently underway next to Ontario Power Generation's Darlington Nuclear Generating Station for the proposed construction of a new nuclear power plant. On August 17, 2012, Ontario Power Generation received a License to Prepare Site from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for the Darlington OPG Nuclear Power Plant Project. The CNSC'c Joint Review Panel (JRP) decided that OPG meets the relevant requirements in Canada's Nuclear Safety and Control Act, that OPG is qualified to carry out the activities that will be permitted under the licence, and that the health and safety of people and the environment will be protected.
The two reactor designs being considered for this project are the Enhanced Candu 6 and the Westinghouse AP1000.
In December 2011, Bruce Power abandoned plans to build a nuclear power plant in northern Alberta. The company had proposed building up to four nuclear reactors that could produce 4,000 megawatts of electricity at a site 30 kilometres north of Peace River.
Safety following Fukushima 
Following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) ordered all reactor operators to revisit their safety plans and report on potential improvements by the end of April 2011.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later conducted a review of the CNSC's response to the March 2011 events at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and concluded that the CNSC's response was "prompt, robust and comprehensive, and is a good practice that should be used by other regulatory bodies".
Anti-nuclear movement 
Canada has an active anti-nuclear movement, which includes major campaigning organisations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Over 300 public interest groups across Canada have endorsed the mandate of the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout (CNP). Some environmental organisations such as Energy Probe, the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) are reported to have developed considerable expertise on nuclear power and energy issues. There is also a long-standing tradition of indigenous opposition to uranium mining.
The province of British Columbia firmly maintains a strict no-nuclear policy. The Crown corporation, BC Hydro, upholds this principal by "rejecting consideration of nuclear power in implementing B.C.'s clean energy strategy." 
See also 
- Electricity sector in Canada
- Nuclear industry in Canada
- List of nuclear reactors
- Canadian Nuclear Association
- Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
- Energy Alberta Corporation
- Pembina Institute
- Science and technology in Canada
- Nuclear power accidents by country
- Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experiment MAPLE cancelled due to a positive power co-efficient of reactivity.
- Statistics Canada (January 2013), Table 127-0002 Electric power generation, by class of electricity producer, Ottawa: Statistics Canada, pp. 10–11
- Canada Science and Technology Museum, ZEEP — Canada’s First Nuclear Reactor, Ottawa: Canada Science and Technology Museum
- CBC News (3 October 2012). "Quebec nuclear reactor shutdown will cost $1.8 billion". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "A closer look at Canada's nuclear plants". CBC News. Jan 9, 2012.
- "Nuclear plant spills tritium into lake". 2011-04-12. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon (Jan 9, 2012). "Nuclear commission says Point Lepreau leaks 'unsettling'". CBC News.
- Innovative Research Group (July 9, 2012). "2012 Public Opinion Research: National Nuclear Attitude Survey". Canadian Nuclear Association.
- Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (August 17, 2012). "CNSC Issues a Site Preparation Licence for OPG Darlington Nuclear Power Plant Projectl". Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
- John Spears (April 26, 2012). "Ontario zeroes in on two nuclear reactor designs". Toronto Star.
- Nicki Thomas and Elise Stolte (December 13, 2011). "Bruce Power withdraws nuclear plant proposal". Edmonton Journal.
- Sarah Boesveld (March 21, 2011). [dead link] "Nuclear commission orders Canadian reactors to review safety plans". National Post.
- Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (March 5, 2012). "IAEA report confirms the effectiveness of Canada's nuclear regulatory framework". Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
- Lutz Mez, Mycle Schneider and Steve Thomas (Eds.) (2009). International Perspectives of Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power, Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd, p. 257.
- Lutz Mez, Mycle Schneider and Steve Thomas (Eds.) (2009). International Perspectives of Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power, Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd, p. 279.
Further reading 
- Steed, Roger G (2007), Nuclear Power in Canada and Beyond, General Store Pub. House, ISBN 978-1-897113-51-6
- Atomic Energy Canada, Limited (1997), Canada enters the nuclear age, McGill-Queen's University Press, ISBN 0-7735-1601-8
- Brian Buckley (2000). Canada's early nuclear policy: fate, chance and character. McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-2077-6.
- G. Bruce Doern; Robert W. Morrison; Arslan Dorman (2001). Canadian nuclear energy policy: changing ideas, institutions, and interests. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-4788-5.
- Gordon, H. E. Sims (1990). The anti-nuclear game. University of Ottawa Press. ISBN 0-7766-0285-3.
- Gordon, H. E. Sims (1980). A history of the Atomic Energy Control Board. Canadian Govt Publishing Centre. ISBN 0-660-10812-7.
- The Canadian Nuclear FAQ
- The Canadian Nuclear Society
- "Entering the Nuclear Age" (Legion Magazine, Sept/Oct 2003)
- "Economic Impact of the Nuclear Industry in Canada" (Canadian Energy Research Institute, 2003)
- "Nuclear Power in Canada: An Examination of Risks, Impacts and Sustainability" (Pembina Institute, 2006)
- "Where is my Electricity Coming From at this Hour? (if I lived in Ontario)" (Canadian Nuclear Society, with data from IESO)