Bruce Nuclear Generating Station

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Bruce Nuclear Generating Station
Bruce B Nuclear Generating Station
Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is located in Ontario
Bruce Nuclear Generating Station
Location of Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario
Country Canada
Location Kincardine, Bruce County, Ontario
Coordinates 44°19′31″N 81°35′58″W / 44.32528°N 81.59944°W / 44.32528; -81.59944Coordinates: 44°19′31″N 81°35′58″W / 44.32528°N 81.59944°W / 44.32528; -81.59944
Status Operational
Construction began 1970–1987
Commission date 1977
Construction cost $1.8 billion CAD (A station)
$6 billion CAD (B station)
Owner(s) Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
Operator(s) Bruce Power
Nuclear power station
Reactor type CANDU
Power generation
Units operational 8 total:
4 × 779 MW (A 1–4)
4 × 817 MW (B 1–4)
Units decommissioned 1 (Douglas Point)
Nameplate capacity 6,384 MW
Capacity factor 85.17%
2015 net output 47,630 GWh[1]
Bruce Power

Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power station located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron in the communities of Inverhuron and Tiverton, Ontario in Canada. It occupies 932 ha (2300 acres) of land.[2] The facility derives its name from Bruce County in which it is located, in the former Bruce Township. It is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by total reactor count, the number of currently operational reactors, and total output. The station is the largest employer in Bruce County, with 3800 workers.

Formerly known as the Bruce Nuclear Power Development (BNPD),[2] the facility was constructed in stages between 1970 and 1987 by the provincial Crown corporation, Ontario Hydro. In April 1999 Ontario Hydro was split into 5 component Crown corporations with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) taking over all electrical generating stations. In June 2000, OPG entered into a long term lease agreement with private sector consortium Bruce Power to take over operation. In May 2001, Bruce Power began operations. The lease is for 18 years until 2019 with an option to extend another 25 years to 2044.[3]

In November 2009, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) renewed Bruce Power’s operating licences for 5 years until 2014, and gave permission to refuel units 1 and 2.[4] In May 2014, the CNSC extended the licence to May 2015 and public hearings were scheduled for early 2015 in Ottawa and Kincardine.[5] A new operating licence was granted for June 1, 2015, until May 31, 2020.[6]


Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power station located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron in the communities of Inverhuron and Tiverton, Ontario in Canada. It occupies 932 ha (2300 acres) of land.[2] The facility derives its name from Bruce County in which it is located, in the former Bruce Township.

Its eight reactors are arranged into two plants (A and B) with four reactors each. A reactor stands within a reinforced concrete containment, driving eight steam generators. It is 12 m tall, and weighs 100 tonnes each. Each plant shares one set of fueling machines, which travel in a duct cut through solid rock beneath the reactors, traversing the entire plant. The duct doubles as part of the pressure relief system, connected to the vacuum building.[7] Each reactor has its own turbine generator set, with one high-pressure turbine and three low-pressure turbines driving one generator.[8][dead link] [9] The turbine hall is about 400 m long at each plant and houses the four turbine generator sets. Cooling water is taken from Lake Huron.[3] There is (originally) one control room per 4 reactors.[citation needed]

Bruce A, from across Baie Du Dor

Bruce A Plant[edit]

Construction of Bruce A began in 1969, making it the successor to the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station A plant.[8] Bruce A units were originally rated at 750 MWe net / 805 MWe gross,[10] which was later increased to 769 MWe net / 825 MWe gross.[3] As of 2017 the Bruce A units were capable of producing up to 779 MWe net according to IESO generator data. Each reactor requires 6240 fuel bundles that weigh 22.5 kg each, or about 140 tonnes of fuel. There are 480 fuel channels per reactor, containing 13 bundles each. There is storage capacity for about 23,000 bundles. About 16 bundles are discharged per reactor per day.[citation needed]

The Bruce A steam generators utilize a separate large horizontal shared steam drum (with one steam drum common to four steam generators), a design dropped in most other plants at the time. Issues related to the AECL requested design of the tube supports caused repair and delay costs, which exceeded the net worth of the builder Babcock & Wilcox Canada.[11]

Until they were removed in 1998, Bruce A reactors used unique booster rods to control reactivity,[12]. Booster rods contain 93% uranium-235, and are inserted to overcome xenon poisoning. Bruce B and all other Ontario Hydro reactors use absorber rods called "adjusters" which are normally inside and are removed to overcome xenon poisoning.[13]

Bruce A demonstrated an "excellent" early operating history. Together with Pickering A, the eight units achieved an overall average capability factor of 83% over the initial five-year period.[14]

In 2011, when Bruce Power took the lease, all Bruce A units were laid-up.[3]

Bruce A 1

  • Construction of Bruce A-1 began 1 June 1971.[15]
  • On 17 December 1976 it reached first criticality.[15]
  • It was in service 1 September 1977.
  • In December 1997 after about 20 years of operation it was out of service.
  • In 2005 (after 7 years of being idle) refurbishment started.
  • In September 2012, after 15 years of being idle operation resumed.[16] (when the unit was 43 years old)
  • The expected retirement will be 2043 (when the unit will be 72 years old)

Bruce A 2

  • Construction began 1 December 1970[15]
  • On 27 July 1976 it reached first criticality[15]
  • It was in service 1 September 1977.[15]
  • In 1982, it was temporarily shut down due to a pressure tube leak. In 1986 a fuel channel failed while the reactor was shut down; Some of the fuel elements were swept into the moderator (calandria) and were difficult to remove.[15][13]
  • In 1986, maintenance workers accidentally left a protective lead blanket in the steam generator. By the time the mistake was discovered six years later, the blanket had melted, severely damaging the boiler.[17][18][19]
  • In October 1995, after about 18 years of operation it was out of service.
  • In 2005, 9 years after being idle, refurbishment started.
  • In October 2012, it resumed operation.[16] (after 17 years idle, unit was 42 years old)
  • In 2043 when the unit will be 73 years old retirement is expected.

Bruce A 3

  • Construction started 1 July 1972.[15]
  • It was in service 1978.
  • In 1982, Unit 3 set a then world record of 494 days of continuous operation and as of 1984 Bruce A was the most reliable multi-unit station in the world.[17]
  • From April 1998 onward it remained idle for 6 years returning to service March 2004 (unit was 32 years old).
  • As of 2015 it is expected to begin refurbishment in 2023 .[20][21][22]

Bruce A 4

  • Its construction started 1 September 1972[15] and it was taken in service 1979.[citation needed]
  • In January 1998, after about 19 years of operation it was out of service.
    • In 1990, a software error caused a fuelling machine error, damaging a fuel channel.[15][23]
  • In November 2003, after 6 years of being idle, it returned to service, being 31 years old.
  • In 1993, reactor power was reduced to 60% until various loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) scenarios could be addressed. Subsequently, Bruce A units returned to 89% of rated power.[15]
  • As of 2013, refurbishment is planned to begin In 2025[20][21][22]

Bruce B[edit]

Bruce B units are of a slightly larger capacity: 817 MW net, 840 MW gross.[10] which is attributed to an improved steam generator design, where the steam drum is integral to each steam generator in a "light bulb" arrangement, eliminating the horizontal cross-drum.[24][11] In 1990, a nine-week "impairment" of the Bruce B was created when a technician incorrectly set the calibration on radioactivity monitors.[25] In 2007, Bruce 7 (B 3) was the top performing nuclear reactor in Ontario with 97.2% performance.[26] and in 2009, Bruce 5 (B 1) was first with 95.4% performance.[27]

Bruce B 5

  • Came in service 1 March 1985.
  • (original) scheduled shutdown in 2016 (about 31 years old).[25]
  • Planned refurbishment to begin 2026.[20][21][22]

Bruce B 6

  • Came in service 14 September 1984.
  • (Original) scheduled shutdown 2018 (about 34 years old)
  • Planned refurbishment is to begin 2020.[20][21][22]

Bruce B 7

  • Construction began in 1977,[8] somewhat to the south of the original Douglas Point and Bruce A plants.
  • Came in service 10 April 1986.
  • (originally) scheduled shutdown 2015 (about 29 years old).
  • Planned refurbishment to begin 2028.[20][21][22]

Bruce B 8

  • Came in service 22 May 1987, so as of 2015 Bruce became the largest nuclear site in the world.[27]
  • Planned refurbishment to begin 2030.[20][21][22]
  • (Originally) scheduled shutdown 2019 (about 32 years old)

Electrical output[edit]

As of 2017, the station (A and B combined) produced the following amounts of electricity annually:

  • 2001 20.5 terawatt hours (TWh);
  • 2003 24.5 TWh;
  • 2004 (planned) 34 TWh.[3]
  • 2007 35.47 TWh
  • 2008 35.26 TWh[28][dead link]
  • 2013 45 TWh, which was about 30% of Ontario's production.[29]
  • 2015 47.63 TWh[30]

As of 2011 Bruce station was the largest operating nuclear facility in the world by total reactor count, the number of then operational reactors, and total output,[31][32]having a total of 8 CANDU nuclear reactors with a combined output of 6,384 MWe net (7,276 MWe gross) when all units are online. (The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan has a larger output capacity, but was not operating as of 2014.[33])

As of 2008, the Bruce station had three double-circuit 500 kV transmission lines to feed the major load centres in southern Ontario, in addition to three double-circuit 230 kV lines serving the local area.[34] These circuits are connected via two high voltage switchyards owned and operating by Hydro One. In 2006, OPA had proposed increasing transmission line capacity, at a cost of between $200–600 million,[35] described as "the largest electricity transmission investment in Ontario in the last 20 years."[36] The line was completed in June 2012, several months ahead of schedule, with over 700 towers built for the 180 kilometre line to Milton. The project ranked 45th in Renew Canada's annual list.[37]

In 2010, Bruce Power was paid approximately $60 million for contracted, but unused power.[38]

Comparison with Pickering[edit]

  • Compared to the previous Pickering station, the Bruce reactors have higher power output, achieved by: increasing the number of fuel channels, increasing the number of bundles per channel, and a change in the fuel bundle itself.
  • At Bruce, the fuelling equipment is shared by the four reactors of each plant, while at Pickering each reactor had a fuelling machine.
  • The Bruce fuelling machine and fuel channel end fitting design (mostly by Canadian General Electric) is based on the Nuclear Power Demonstration design. The Pickering design by AECL was based on Douglas Point.[39]
  • The building design of the reactor differs: Bruce uses a squarish "close-in" design, in which as much of the equipment as possible is arranged outside the main containment envelope for easier access during maintenance and emergencies.[13] The steam generators penetrate the containment. The primary coolant pumps and primary piping systems are inside the containment enclosure, but the pump motors are outside containment and the drive shaft seals form the containment boundary.[40] Pickering has round domes which enclose much of the secondary cooling equipment.
  • The Pickering A system did not originally have a second independent shutdown system. The Bruce containment concept differs: the reactor's reactivity mechanism deck serves as a part of the containment boundary, is closer to the reactor, and more prone to damage in the event of an accident ("accidental physical disasembly"). The designers therefore foresaw the need for a second safety system to reduce the risk on an accident. Bruce received a second, fully independent Safety Shutdown System (SDS2) which uses a liquid neutron poison injection method.[41]
  • The Bruce system also has a high-pressure Emergency Coolant Injection System (ECIS).[14]
  • Each Bruce "4 pack" has its own Vacuum Building, while Pickering had one per eight reactors.
  • At Pickering, the vacuum duct was closed by nonreturn valves, to prevent flow of the steam/air mixture from the duct to a non-accident reactor unit following a LOCA. In the Bruce concept, there is no such non-return valve; the reactor buildings are all interconnected during normal operation.[13]
  • Bruce uses single-circuit heat transport system, while Pickering had two circuits.[13]
  • The first two reactor units of Pickering A originally used Zircaloy-2 pressure tubes. All subsequent CANDU units use a zirconium - 2.5% niobium] alloy.[13]
  • Bruce uses a pressuriser to maintain coolant pressure, Pickering a different system.
  • The Pickering design utilized 12 small steam generators operated in groups of three which can be individually valved out of the heat transport loop, as can the 16 pumps per reactor, with 4 being spare. At Bruce, the number of steam generators and coolant pumps was reduced to 8 and 4 respectively, without any spare pumps, thereby simplifying the piping. The Bruce system permits reactor power level to be adjusted more quickly and easily.[13][42]

Construction costs[edit]

Bruce A was projected to cost $0.9 billion (1969), and actually cost $1.8 billion (1978), a 100% over-run. Bruce B was projected to cost $3.9 billion (1976), and actually cost $6 billion (1989) in "dollars of the year", a 50% over-run.[25] These figures are better than for Pickering B or Darlington (at 350%, not accounting for inflation).

Blackout of 2003[edit]

During the Northeast Blackout of 2003 three Bruce B units continued running at 60% reactor power and 0% grid electrical power. They were able to do so for hours, because they had steam bypass systems designed to de-couple the reactor output from the generator electrical output.[43] The three units were reconnected to the grid within 5 hours.[15] Bruce A and B stations were designed to operate for at least 6 hours disconnected from the grid. Bruce A subsequently lost this capability due to safety concerns with the booster rod system.[dubious ]

"Contrary to popular belief, the electrical generators of nuclear plants can follow the load demands of the electrical grid provided specific engineered systems to permit this mode of operation are included in the plant design."[43]

Refurbishment of Units 1–2, 1995-2012[edit]

Bruce A Turbine Hall during the 2002-04 restart project

Retubing of Bruce A units was planned in 1992, but deferred, as Ontario Hydro had a surplus of generation at the time.[8]

In late 2005, Bruce Power and the Government of Ontario committed to return units 1 and 2 to service, in order to help meet increasing energy demand in the province of Ontario.[44] The project was originally estimated to cost $4.25 billion.[45] It was determined that while Units 1&2 could have been restarted without refurbishment, it was economically advantageous to do so, since refurbishment would have been required shortly thereafter.[3] The goal is to keep units 1&2 in service until 2043, 66 years after original commissioning.[3]

The refurbishment required pressure tube and calandria tube replacement, steam generator replacement, shutdown System 2 (SDS2) enhancement, an upgrade of turbine control systems, replacing original analog controls with a DCS[46] and significant other work and maintenance (for example, replacement of 30 transformers containing PCBs.

A new fuel bundle design (Low Void Reactivity Fuel, LVRF) was considered, using slightly enriched (1% U-235 fuel pellets, within a CANFLEX 43-element bundle compared to the existing 37-element bundle.[3]

In 2006 and 2007, the restart project was judged to be the largest infrastructure project in Canada by ReNew Canada magazine.[47] In April 2007, the auditor general reviewed the refurbishment deal [48] In August 2007 estimated cost for the project had grown to $5.25 billion when Bruce Power decided to replace all 480 fuel channels in Unit 4, which will extend its working life to 2036, in line with the other 3 units of Bruce A.[49] In 2008, due to difficulties developing the necessary robotics, the estimated cost of restarting Units 1 and 2 rose between $400 and $700 million.[50] As of 2008, the project remained on schedule.[51][52]

In January 2010, up to 217 workers were potentially exposed to radiation during the refurbishment.[53] 27 workers may have received 5 mSv, a level well below the level that can affect human health. (For context, 8000mSv is fatal, and 3-16 is the normal background radiation that people normally experience in a typical year.) Only one lab in Canada (at Chalk River) was qualified to do the testing. Bruce Power had to seek permission to use alternative labs.[54][55]

In 2010, a plan to ship decommissioned, low-level radioactive steam generators to Sweden via the Great Lakes caused controversy.[56] The CNSC approved the plan in February 2011.[57]

As of January 2011, fuel channel installation in Unit 2 was complete.[58] The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission gave the operator the green light to restart Unit 2 on 16 March 2012.[59] However, the reactor was shut down the next day after a leak was discovered in the moderator system.[60]

In 2011, refurbishment of Unit 1 and 2 , scheduled to be complete 2009, was predicted for 2012. In 2011, the cost had totaled $3.8 billion; the final cost was expected to be $4.8 billion. The original 2005 estimate was $2.75 billion.[61]

In September 2012, Unit 1 began generating power again.[16]

On 16 October 2012, Unit 2 was connected to the provincial electricity grid for the first time in 17 years.[62] In 2013, final costs were estimated at $4.8 billion, up from an original estimate of $2.75 billion, and the project ran "far behind" schedule.[63]

Refurbishment of Units 3–8, 2016-present[edit]

In 2016, Bruce Power started a $13 billion refurbishment program for "major component replacement on Units 3–8 in 2020, starting in Unit 6".[64] According to Bruce Power, this multi-year plan "will generate between 1,500 and 2,500 jobs on site annually – and 18,000 across Ontario directly and indirectly – while injecting up to $4 billion annually into Ontario’s economy".[65]

Waste storage[edit]

The Bruce station area is the site of OPG's Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF). The WWMF stores the low-level waste and intermediate level nuclear waste from operating its 20 nuclear reactors, including those leased to Bruce Power. As of 2009, there were 11 low level storage buildings.[66][dead link]

The WWMF provides dry nuclear fuel storage for the Bruce reactors. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization was mandated in 2002 by the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act to submit a proposal for the long-term management, which was submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources in November 2005 and approved by the government in June 2007.[67] As of May 2017 It is seeking a separate site in Canada for a permanent repository for the used fuel from all of Canada's nuclear reactors.[67]

In 2013, OPG proposed to construct a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for long-term storage of low-and-intermediate level waste on lands adjacent to WWMF. The proposed DGR would be about 680 metres below surface.[68]

Future development[edit]

New station (cancelled)[edit]

In 2007, the Ontario Power Authority had recommended in a plan submitted to the Ontario Energy Board, to build a new nuclear power station consisting of at least two reactors.[69] The leading candidate was AECL's Advanced CANDU Reactor.[70] Since 2008, environmental assessments have been underway both at Bruce and at Ontario Power Generation's Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.[71]

In 2009, Bruce Power withdrew its application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for the Bruce C plant.[72][73]

Ontario Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) 2013[edit]

In October 2013, Ontario announced plans to refurbish six reactors at the Bruce plant beginning with Bruce A4 in 2016. Other units would follow at intervals. Bruce Power estimated the cost at about $2 billion per unit, or $12 billion for six. The price of the power from these units was expected to be in the range of ~$60–$70 per MWh.[20][dead link][74]

On January 1, 2016, Bruce Power was to receive a single price for all output from the site of $65.73 per megawatt-hour (MW·h).[75]

Other features on site[edit]

Bruce A looking Southwest across Baie Du Dor

There are more than 56 kilometres of roads on site, and at least 25 major structures. The site has its own fire department, laundry and medical centre.[8]

Douglas Point, 1960-1984[edit]

Encompassed by the Bruce site is the shut-down Douglas Point reactor, an earlier version of the CANDU design. Construction began in 1960; was operational in 1967; and was shut down in 1984.[8] The present Bruce reactors each are roughly 4 times the capacity of the 200 MW Douglas Point unit.

Bruce Heavy Water Plant, 1973-1995[edit]

The Bruce Heavy Water Plant (BHWP) also occupied the site. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited contracted the Lummus Company of Canada Limited in 1969 to design and construct the first phase of the plant, while Ontario Hydro was responsible for commissioning and operating.[76]

It was planned to consist of four sub-plants, A through D:

  • A was in production in 1973, shutdown in 1984, and demolished in 1993;
  • B was in production in 1979, partially shutdown in 1993, completely closed in 1997, and subsequently demolished;
  • C was cancelled, and never built;
  • D was 70% completed when cancelled, and subsequently demolished in 1995.

During its lifetime, BHWP produced 16,000 tonnes of reactor grade heavy water. Capacity of each sub-plant was planned to be 800 tonnes/annum. The plant size was approximately 960 m by 750 m.[2] The heavy water was 99.75% pure.[76] The production of a single pound of heavy water required 340,000 pounds of feed water.[77]

Bruce Bulk Steam System, -2006[edit]

Steam from Bruce A could be diverted to the Bruce Bulk Steam System (BBSS) to provide energy for the production of heavy water (750 MW thermal), to heat buildings within the development (15 MW th), or to provide energy (72 MW th) for the adjacent Bruce Energy Centre (BEC). The BEC supported industries such as greenhouses and plastic manufacturers. As one of the largest bulk steam systems in the world, this system could produce 5,350 MW of medium-pressure process steam, and had over 6 km of piping.[78]:15-16 It was demolished by the end of 2006. Because of the requirement to provide steam, the Bruce A turbines were undersized relative to the reactor power.[24][dead link][79][dead link][80][dead link][81]

Inverhuron Provincial Park, 1950 - present[edit]

OPG owns the nearby 288 ha Inverhuron Provincial Park on Lake Huron, bordering Inverhuron, 14 km north-east of Kincardine, which is not part of the Bruce site proper, and leases it to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. As a condition of the operating licence for Bruce Nuclear, OPG retained a 914 m radius exclusion zone in the northwest corner of the park. after operating over 25 years the park campground was phased out in 1976, because of safety concerns related to the heavy water production. When heavy water was no longer produced, the park campground was allowed to re-open in 2000 on the same spot.[82]:7


The heated water released back into Lake Huron by the plant prevents the surrounding shoreline from freezing over during winter and attracts an inordinate concentration of lake fish, which in turn attracts droves of bald eagles wintering in the area. Numbers peak around late February to early March and it is not uncommon for visitors to observe several dozen eagles in and around the general vicinity of the plant at any given time during these months.[83][84]

Security and safety[edit]

Bruce Power as seen from a passenger aircraft

In 1977 three Greenpeace activists canoed into the site to demonstrate the lack of security.[85][86]

On 23 September 2001, a man whose boat capsized on Lake Huron near the Bruce complex squeezed through a gate, entered an office building and phoned for help—all undetected.[87][88]

The pre-9/11 mandate of the security team was to delay attackers for 17 minutes, until local police could respond. Reliance was on passive measures such as fencing and locks.[25]

The "transformed" post 9/11 security team is described as being larger than the police force of the city of Kingston, i.e. equivalent to the force of a city of 100,000. Force members are permitted to carry firearms, and have powers of arrest. The force possesses armoured vehicles, water craft, and the plant is now triple-fenced.[89] In May 2008, the Bruce Nuclear Response Team (NRT) won the U.S. National SWAT Championship (USNSC), defeating 29 other teams from 4 countries, the first time a Canadian team won an international SWAT event. They won again in 2009, 2010, and 2011.[90][91][92][93][94]

In 2010, about 40 contract workers were fired or suspended for inappropriate internet usage.[95][96]

Post 9/11, tours of the plant area were discontinued, although there is a visitor centre outside of the site.[8]

According to the Bruce County emergency plan, "The Municipality of Kincardine will coordinate the emergency response concerns of a nuclear emergency situation resulting from an accident at the Bruce Power Site in the Municipality of Kincardine.".[97] Kincardine is required to maintain a warning system within 3 km of the plant, and has a network of 10 warning stations equipped with sirens and strobes.[98]

A variety of radiation monitoring measures are in place. Milk samples from local farms are sampled weekly. Drinking water at treatment plants in Kincardine and Southampton is sampled twice daily, and tested weekly. Ground water is sampled from several surface water, shallow and deep well locations. Aquatic sediment and fish are analysed, as well as livestock feed, honey, eggs, fruits and vegetables.[99]

See also[edit]


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