What does decommissioning mean?

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.

How is Gentilly-2 being decommissioned?

Decommissioning is a four-step process: Preparation for dormancy, which covers unloading the reactor and deactivating the systems; dormancy, in which spent fuel is stored for more than 40 years; dismantling the facilities; and, finally, site rehabilitation.

What happened to the people who used to work there?

Hydro-Québec fulfilled all its obligations under collective agreements. As of October 31, 2016, all redundant employees (595) had been reassigned within the company, 60% of them within the same region. Some nonetheless decided to leave the company.

How will the Gentilly-2 site be kept secure?

Hydro-Québec will continue to ensure the site’s security in accordance with existing regulations.

How long will waste remain on the site?

Waste will be stored in the solid radioactive waste management modules. The actual fuel bundles will be stored in CANSTOR modules after about seven years in the spent fuel pool. Under the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s adaptive phased management system, shipping of Gentilly-2 fuel bundles to their final repository will start when the dormancy period ends, around 2050, and will be completed around 2064.

Could the decommissioning have an impact on the environment and the health of nearby residents?

Decommissioning must comply with strict safety and security standards and is subject to stringent environmental monitoring. Hydro-Québec complies with applicable regulations, as it did throughout Gentilly-2’s years of operation. Environmental monitoring has in fact shown that operation had no impact on the environment nor on employee or public health. For instance, radiation from the Gentilly-2 facility is so low that it is totally masked by natural sources of radiation.

How can we be sure that work will be done following best practices and in full compliance with regulations?

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regulates the entire life cycle of nuclear power plants. It is in charge of ensuring that decommissioning activities are carried out in accordance with its regulatory requirements in order to protect workers, the public and the environment. Hydro-Québec will comply with applicable regulations, as it did throughout Gentilly-2’s years of operation.

How long will it take for the site to be restored to its initial state?

The site will be fully restored at the end of the dismantlement, around 2060.

Could the generating station be started up again if Québec’s energy policy changed?

Extending Gentilly-2’s service life would have necessitated complex, wide-ranging refurbishment. On due consideration, it was determined that the definitive closure of Gentilly-2 was financially much more advantageous. The Québec government announced its decision to close Gentilly-2 in September 2012, and Hydro-Québec began the decommissioning in January 2013.

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