Environmental assessment begins for Canada’s first SMR

19 July 2019

On 12 July the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) received a project description from Global First Power for the issuance of a licence to prepare the site for a Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) at the Chalk River Laboratories site in Ontario.

The proposed project includes a nuclear plant, which would contain a MMR High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor that would provide process heat to an adjacent plant, via molten salt. The MMR would produce approximately 15MWt of process heat to generate electrical power and/or heat, over an operating life-span of 20 years.

CNSC said before it could consider licensing Global First Power’s proposal, an environmental assessment (EA) would be required under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. Canada's federal government issued the notice to begin the EA on 15 July. Canada's first small modular reactor (SMR) project is supported by Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), Global First Power (GFP), and Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

USNC, GFP, and OPG propose to build and operate the 15MWt (5MWe) MMR at the Chalk River Laboratories. The site is owned by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and operated by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).

The USNC MMR energy system has two pats. The nuclear plant contains the MMR reactors, including all the equipment required to transport heat to the adjacent plant, while an adjacent power plant houses the equipment that converts heat to electricity or process heat.

The MMR is designed to be uniquely simple, with minimal operations and maintenance requirements, and no on-site fuel storage, handling, or processing. USNC said its Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCM) fuel provides a new approach to reactor safety, requiring no active systems to remove heat, or outside services, including electrical power, to operate safely.

If approved, the project would serve as a model for future SMR deployments, including industrial applications such as powering remote mining operations. The company anticipates the MMR model could be an important solution for meeting future energy needs, while helping achieve environmental and climate change goals.

"Our MMR is designed with a great many safety, environmental, and operational innovations and this project will allow us to demonstrate how our technology can achieve both energy and environmental goals," said USNC CEO Francesco Venneri.

In parallel, GFP will provide the AECL and CNL with the required information as they continue their proponent selection process, and provide CNSC with information to support the licence application process. The reactor completed the first phase of the CNSC pre-licensing vendor design review process in January.



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