Bruce nuclear power plantCanada’s Bruce Power said on 1 May that unit 1 at the Bruce nuclear power plant had set a record of 624 consecutive days of reliable operation – the longest since it was returned to service in 2012.

It exceeded Bruce 8’s run of 623 consecutive days between May 2016 and February 2018. Bruce 1, a Candu reactor, was put into service in 1977. It was shut down and mothballed by the former Ontario Hydro in 1997, and was refurbished and returned to service in 2012 by Bruce Power.

Bruce units 3 and 4 were restarted in 2003 and 2004. They are part of Bruce Power’s Life-Extension Programme and will undergo Major Component Replacement (MCR) Projects from 2023-28, adding about 30 years of life to the reactors.

The refurbishment of Bruce 6 has begun and will be followed by MCR Unit 3 which is scheduled to begin in 2023. Nuclear power accounts for more than 60% of Ontario’s supply, with Bruce Power providing more than 30%   of the province’s electricity.

Set up of Covid recovery council

On 30 April, Bruce Power announced the establishment of the Bruce Power Retooling and Economic Recovery Council to leverage the province’s nuclear supply chain to support Ontario’s fight against Covid-19 and to help aid economic recovery.

Bruce Power’s life extension programme is Canada’s second largest infrastructure project and largest private sector infrastructure programme. It is creating 22,000 direct and indirect jobs, which are expected to contribute $4 billion to Ontario’s GDP and $8-$11 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP), Bruce Power said.

“With 90% of the investment in manufactured goods and services coming from 480 companies in Ontario and other provinces, we can harness these capabilities in the fight against Covid-19, and help drive our economic recovery,” the company said.

“An innovative and dynamic nuclear supply chain is more important than ever in meeting this new challenge while successfully implementing our mission of providing clean, reliable, flexible, low-cost nuclear energy and a global supply of medical isotopes,” said Bruce Power president and CEO Mike Rencheck. “We are mobilising a great team with our extended supply chain, which spans the province, to assist in the fight against Covid-19 and to help drive our economic recovery in the future.”

Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, said the launch of the council is consistent with Ontario’s focus to fight Covid-19 as a top priority and a look ahead to economic recovery.

The creation of the Council was announced during a live event on Bruce Power's Facebook page, in which Rencheck was joined by Associate Minister of Energy Bill Walker and Rocco Rossi, the president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Walker reiterated the Government of Ontario’s commitment to nuclear power over the long term and to the life extension programme.

The Council, which will be formed for the duration of the pandemic and will include of all of Bruce Power’s Ontario-based suppliers, will focus on the continued retooling of the supply chain to meet front-line Covid-19 needs to contribute to the province’s economy recovery in the short, medium and long term.

New uses for nuclear medical applications will be explored, including isotopes for the sterilisation of medical equipment and long-term supply security.

The supply chain will be leveraged to support the health care sector through the rapid production of medical Personal Protection Equipment for front line-workers as well as participation in pilot projects to make ventilators within the Bruce Power supply chain or help identify technology to better utilise existing ventilators;

“Buy Local” tools and approaches will be emphasised to ensure small businesses are utilised fully in communities where nuclear suppliers are located.

The production of hand sanitiser and other cleaning products will be facilitated for distribution to communities.

Photo: Bruce nuclear power plant