Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

February 28, 2020: The CNSC would like to clarify information from TVO’s The Agenda from February 25th. The Ontario Power Generation operating licence for Pickering Nuclear Generating Station does not allow operation beyond December 31, 2024. Any request to operate beyond this date would require a licence amendment through a public hearing process before the Commission can render a decision.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) owns and is licensed to operate the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (NGS), located in the municipality of Pickering on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has full-time staff onsite who perform inspections to evaluate if operations are safe and to verify compliance with licence conditions. Furthermore, the CNSC employs technical and regulatory specialists at its head office in Ottawa, who perform assessments and evaluations of OPG's compliance with applicable requirements.

In 2017, OPG submitted an application for a 10-year renewal of the Pickering NGS power reactor operating licence, which expires on August 31, 2018. As OPG intends to cease commercial operation of the Pickering NGS on December 31, 2024, the proposed licence period would cover three phases of operational activities: continued commercial operation until December 31, 2024; a stabilization phase (post-shutdown defuelling and dewatering) lasting approximately two to three years; and the beginning of safe storage for six reactor units. The safe storage phase marks the beginning of station decommissioning.

Aerial view of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

Plant information

Location: Pickering, Ontario
Operator: Ontario Power Generation
Reactor type: CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium)
Vendor: Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
Number of units: 8 reactors
Installed capacity: 3,100 MW
Status units 1 and 4: Operating
Status units 2 and 3: Safe storage
Status units 5, 6, 7 and 8: Operating
Licence issued: September 1, 2018
Licence expires: August 31, 2028
Start of commercial operation: Between 1971 and 1973 for Pickering units 1 to 4 and 1983 and 1986 for units 5 to 8
Special containment system: Common vacuum building maintained at negative atmospheric pressure
Licensing documentation: Request a copy of the Pickering licence and licence condition handbook by email

Emergency preparedness

The CNSC requires nuclear power plants to conduct a full-scale emergency exercise every three years to test emergency response plans, decision-making functions, response capabilities and interoperability. The goal is to test the nuclear power plant operator, response agencies, and municipal, provincial and federal government responders’ ability to mitigate the impact of a nuclear accident.
If you live within approximately 10 km of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, you will have received information about what to do in the unlikely event of a nuclear accident from OPG. For more information, visit OPG’s Prepare to be Safe.
When you receive this information, read it carefully and store it in an easily accessible place. You can also attend public information sessions held by local authorities and OPG. For more information on nuclear emergency preparedness, consult Durham Region’s nuclear preparedness plan.

For more information on CNSC requirements, consult REGDOC-2.10.1, Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response.

As with any emergency, you can prepare your family by:

Periodic safety review

A periodic safety review (PSR) is an international best practice that was adopted by the CNSC in 2015 and described in REGDOC-2.3.3 Periodic Safety Reviews. One major activity of a PSR is to evaluate overall plant safety by integrating reviews of 15 safety factors covering elements related to the plant's design, condition, performance and operation, as well as to organizational and human performance. The PSR assesses the extent to which the Pickering NGS conforms to modern codes and standards, and identifies practicable physical or programmatic modifications to enhance safety until the end of commercial operation planned at the end of 2024.

As part of licensing conditions set out by the CNSC, a PSR is conducted every 10 years at all Canadian nuclear power plants.

As per CNSC REGDOC-2.3.3, the PSR is to be conducted in four phases. Each phase is thoroughly reviewed by CNSC staff before proceeding to the next phase:

  • PSR basis document – an agreement between OPG and the CNSC on the scope, depth of the PSR
  • Conduct of the safety factor reviews and documentation of the identified findings in 15 safety factor reports
  • Analysis of the findings and their integral impact on the plant safety (global assessment report [GAR])
  • Preparation of a safety enhancement plan (integrated implementation plan [IIP])

All PSR documents are available through OPG's website.

To request the following CNSC acceptance letters pertaining to PSR, contact cnsc.info.ccsn@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca.

Date Formal correspondence
July 2016 Acceptance of Pickering NGS periodic safety review (PSR2) basis document
September 2016 to August 2017 CNSC staff review of Pickering NGS periodic safety review (PSR2) safety factors reports
February 2018 CNSC staff review of Pickering NGS periodic safety review (PSR2) GAR
March 2018 Acceptance of Pickering NGS periodic safety review (PSR2) IIP

Environmental risk assessment

An environmental risk assessment (ERA) is a systematic process used to identify, quantify and characterize the risk posed by contaminants and physical stressors in the environment to biological receptors, including humans.

The ERA for OPG's Pickering NGS assessed the potential risks to human health and the environment associated with the facility operations in the years leading up to the end of commercial operations.

OPG's ERA is available on OPG's website.To view the following CNSC review letters pertaining to the ERA, contact cnsc.info.ccsn@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca.

Date Formal correspondence
April 28, 2017 Environmental risk assessment and Predictive Effects Assessment for Pickering Nuclear Safe Storage
August 31, 2017 Environmental risk assessment report for safe storage
September 6, 2017 Predictive effects assessment for Pickering nuclear safe storage
October 20, 2017 Responses to CNSC and Environment and Climate Change Canada comments on the ERA
November 22, 2017 Predictive effects assessment for Pickering nuclear safe storage
March 7, 2018 Submission of the revised environmental risk assessment report
May 30, 2018

Submission of the revised environmental risk assessment report

Reference documents:

  • Meeting minutes: Ontario Power Generation, Environment and Climate Change Canada and CNSC April 17, 2018
  • Hazard quotients based on upper confidence limit on the mean
  • Hazard quotients maximum: Additional clarification

The CNSC's Independent Environmental Monitoring Program

The CNSC has implemented its Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) to verify that the public and the environment around licensed nuclear facilities are protected. The IEMP involves taking samples from public areas around the facilities, and measuring and analyzing the amount of radiological (nuclear) and hazardous substances in those samples. CNSC staff collect the samples and send them to the CNSC's state-of-the-art laboratory for testing and analysis. For more information, visit the IEMP Web page.

Since the implementation of the IEMP, the area outside of the Pickering NGS perimeter was sampled in 2014, 2015 and most recently 2017. Results from the sampling campaigns confirm that the public and the environment around the Pickering NGS are safe and that there are no health impacts.

Fisheries Act authorization

CNSC staff continuously review impacts to the environment, including impacts to fish and fish habitat, under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act. The CNSC ensures that its reviews consider the requirements of the revised Fisheries Act, as per a memorandum of understanding with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Date Milestone
May 2015 Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts an investigation and issues a letter to OPG requiring OPG to submit an application for an authorization under paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act. As part of the Pickering NGS Fisheries Act application, OPG proposes an offset project, which once submitted, is deemed to require its own authorization. For this reason OPG has been working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada directly on the submission of a complete Fisheries Act application.
July 2017 OPG submits an application to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for authorization under paragraph 35(2) of the Fisheries Act.
August 30, 2017 Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts its review of the application and deems the application incomplete. Outstanding information items include additional details on measures and standards to avoid or mitigate serious harm to fish, residual serious harm to fish after implementation of avoidance and mitigation measures and standards, and additional information on the proposed offsetting plan
October 2017 A fisheries offset productivity monitoring workshop is held with OPG, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and CNSC staff, to define appropriate methods to measure and evaluate fisheries productivity at OPG's proposed offset project at the Big Island Wetland.
December 2017 OPG submits a revised application for authorization under paragraph 35(2) of the Fisheries Act.
January 2, 2018 Fisheries and Oceans Canada notifies OPG that its application is considered complete.
January 17, 2018 Fisheries and Oceans Canada issue a Fisheries Act authorization to OPG for the Pickering NGS.

Participant Funding Program

The CNSC made a total of $100,000 available through its Participant Funding Program (PFP) to assist members of the public, Indigenous groups, and other stakeholders in providing value-added information to the Commission through informed and topic-specific interventions. This funding will be used by stakeholders to review OPG's licence renewal application and other relevant documentation specifically related to the application, and to prepare for and participate in the Commission public hearing.

The public, Indigenous groups and other stakeholders were informed of the availability of participant funding through a series of public communications:

  • Posting of the PFP funding announcement on the PFP section of the CNSC website
  • News release and email to subscribers
  • Online and print advertisements
  • Notification by letter to potentially interested Indigenous groups

The deadline for applications was December 1, 2017. A Funding Review Committee (FRC), independent from CNSC staff review the funding applications received, and make recommendations on the allocation of funding to eligible applicants. Based on recommendations from the FRC, the CNSC awards participant funding to recipients, who are required to submit a written intervention and make an oral intervention at the Commission public hearing.

Latest CNSC facility-specific announcements

Latest licensee public disclosures

As part of CNSC's regulatory requirements, major licensees must have robust public information and disclosure programs in place. These programs, for nuclear power plants, include a disclosure protocol developed in consultation with community stakeholders.

Most recent disclosure

Visit OPG's website for more information.

A CNSC inspector at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. The white tower is part of an emergency injection cooling system, one of the facility's many safety features.

Regulatory reporting

Key topics

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