Plans drawn up by Ontario Power Generation to keep four of Pickering's six reactors operating for an extra year beyond the currently scheduled shutdown date of 2024 will require approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canadian media reported last week.
The Cabinet has already approved the proposal from OPG for what Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford described as "optimisation" of the timeline for decommissioning Pickering, which is Canada's oldest nuclear plant, operating since 1971.
The proposals will be put forward for public consultation, Rickford said.
OPG proposed the change to the phaseout timeline as a better way of transitioning its workforce. Rickford said, keeping one reactor unit operating into 2025 would mean "a certain amount of people will stay on longer."
The Pickering nuclear plant provides about 4500 jobs, according to OPG's website and supplies14% of Ontario’s electricity.
Calls for immediate decommissioning
Meanwhile, the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA), is calling for the immediate dismantling of the Pickering, which is currently planned for deferred dismantling.
It says on its website that a better plan is to adopt the international best practice of immediate decommissioning.
"If we close the plant in 2024 and immediately start dismantling it, we can create 32,000 person-years of employment and revitalize a big piece of the Pickering waterfront for the enjoyment of the community," OCAA says.
OPG has a decommissioning plan in place that has involved years of careful study and consultation with stakeholders.
According to this preliminary plan, all four units at Pickering B would close in 2024. planning purposes, it is assumed that decommissioning would start at unit 5 in 2054, followed by unit 6 in 2055, unit 7 in 2056 and unit 8 in 2057.
The cost, estimated in the 2016 plan at more than $5 billion, will be covered by funds set aside by OPG to fully decommission Ontario’s nuclear facilities.
Pickering was initially slated to close in 2014, but delayed until 2020 by the Liberal provincial government, and finally to 2024.