29 December 2012

Quebec’s Gentilly‑2 Reactor Shut Down Permanently

On 28 December 2012, Gentilly-2, the only nuclear plant in the Canadian province of Quebec, was taken off the grid. The step had been announced by the new provincial government immediately after the elections in September 2012 (see Canada: Quebec’s Only Reactor to Close). The 29-year old 635 MW heavy water reactor showed a mediocre performance over the passed four years with an average load factor of 64 percent and was slated for major upgrading. After a previous refurbishment at the Point Lepreau plant turned out seriously over budget, the costs for the complete renovation of Gentilly-2 were reassessed at CAD4.3 billion (USD4.4 bn). As a consequence of the cost increase combined with deteriorated marked conditions operator Hydro-Quebec “recommended the closure of the plant to the Quebec government”. Fuel unloading and processing of the heavy water are scheduled to be carried out by the middle of 2014. The reactor will be mothballed for a 40-year period prior to dismantling operations that are currently scheduled to be implemented between 2052 and 2062. Total post-operational costs are estimated at CAD1.8 billion to be spread out over a 50-year period.