A Decade Ago, We Saw The Permanent Closure of the Hydro-Quebec Gentilly-2 Nuclear Reactor

A Decade Ago, We Saw The Permanent Closure of the Hydro-Quebec Gentilly-2 Nuclear Reactor

It was on December 28th, 2012 at 11:02 in the evening that the Gentilly-2 generating station was shut down for good. The nuclear reactor had been in service for 29 years before it was decommissioned. Ten years after the unfortunate event, we now have a better idea of the steps required to cease operations at the facility. Right now, almost 40 people continue to be employed here.

Timeline of the Closure

Let us first take a look at the key dates involved in the permanent closure of the nuclear reactor.

September 3rd, 2013

The exhausted fuel bundles were removed from the substation and taken to a pool for storage until 2020.

May 2016

The Organisation régionale de la sécurité civile Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec abolished the external nuclear emergency response. The body announced that its nuclear generating station does not pose a risk to the local community any longer.

June 2016

A new license for nuclear power plant decommissioning was issued. It had a validity of 10 years.

October 2016

The company internally reassigned its 595 surplus employees. Around 60 percent of them decided to continue working in the Centre-du-Quebec and Mauricie regions. Only a few of them made the call to look for employment with a different company.

April 2017

The remaining pair of fuel dry storage modules on-site were used for operation.

December 2020

Every exhausted fuel bundle was finally taken to storage in the on-site dry storage modules.

What Comes Next?

Right now, Gentilly-2 is undergoing a transition into its monitored storage phase. The main activities should focus on conducting environmental, physical, and radiological monitoring as well as infrastructure management. In the next four decades, 15 employees are tasked with its supervision and maintenance.

Hydro-Quebec also plans to pursue efforts in the reconfiguration of its systems as the capacities still exceed present needs. This will result in the simplification of the monitoring and maintenance until its scheduled dismantlement in 2057.

It is also exploring whether it would be possible to dismantle several buildings with no or little radioactive material at an earlier time. If this is feasible, the early dismantlement will get rid of fire hazards and remove the need to maintain unused buildings. In the next few months, Hydro-Quebec plans to refine the economic and technical data of the project. It will also talk to stakeholders and ask for their feedback.

Hydro-Quebec has repurposed or sold Gentilly-2 equipment worth $15.9 million since 2013. The list includes valves, generators, and other parts. With the progress of its decommissioning process, there will be more available equipment in the future. The parts will be offered to internal teams and then repurposed or sold.

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