Decommissioning is the process that comprises the final shutdown of a nuclear facility and restoration of the site to a predetermined final condition. The process includes putting the reactor in a guaranteed shutdown state, and decontaminating and dismantling the facility.
The Gentilly-2 facilities belong to Hydro-Québec. They are located on the south shore of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent (St. Lawrence River), in the municipality of Bécancour, about 15 km east of the city of Trois-Rivières. The site hosts the old Gentilly-2 nuclear generating station and waste storage facilities.
On September 20, 2012, the Québec government announced that it would not be refurbishing the Gentilly-2 generating station and would begin the definitive shutdown of the plant, which had reached the end of its service life.
Gentilly-2 generating station had an installed capacity of 675 MW and is equipped with a CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactor. Commissioned in 1983, it ceased operation on December 28, 2012, after 29 years of meeting the most exacting security and safety standards with respect to protection of the environment, workers and the general public.
The decommissioning of the Gentilly-2 power plant is a four-step process: preparation for dormancy, which covers unloading the reactor and deactivating the systems; dormancy, in which spent (irradiated) fuel is put into dry storage for more than 40 years; dismantling the facilities; and, finally, site rehabilitation.
Video: Activities related to decommissioning Gentilly-2 facilities [in French only]
Video screened by Hydro-Québec at the public meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, December 17, 2014. The video provides an overview of Gentilly-2 decommissioning activities that took place in 2013 and 2014.
Prevention and safety
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulates the nuclear sector in Canada. It applies an approval regime that requires applicants and licensees to prove that their activities are in compliance with nuclear safety standards, as well as legislative and regulatory requirements.
Hydro-Québec drew up an emergency measures plan for Gentilly-2, as it does for all its facilities. It updated the plan for Gentilly-2 upon the announcement of the closure of the generating station. The plan calls for a permanent liaison between the Organisation régionale de la sécurité civile and Hydro-Québec to coordinate actions at the Gentilly-2 facility and those off site, whenever necessary.
The Gentilly-2 site is and will continue to be managed in accordance with strict safety and security standards. The CNSC approved the security program and oversees its implementation in accordance with regulations.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regulates the entire life cycle of nuclear power plants. It ensures that decommissioning complies with regulatory requirements in order to protect workers, the public and the environment.
Hydro-Québec reports on its decommissioning activities, including at public CNSC meetings and hearings, which are also webcast. CNSC inspectors also oversee operations at the Gentilly-2 site.