Gentilly-2 Nuclear Generating Station

FAQ

Is Gentilly-2 generating station safe?
CANDU nuclear power plants like Gentilly-2 are very safe. They are designed, built, maintained and operated to guarantee maximum safety. The probability of a failure, defect or accident is extremely low.
Could an accident like the Chernobyl disaster happen at Gentilly-2?

No. First of all, Gentilly-2 has several automated safety systems. These include two independent emergency reactor shutdown systems and an emergency reactor core cooling system. Its reactor contains heavy water, which is used as a neutron moderator, while Chernobyl used graphite, a material that ignites at high temperature.

The Gentilly-2 reactor is also in a containment building with walls one metre thick. The building is equipped with a water spray to reduce steam pressure during an accident.

Could Hydro-Québec use the Gentilly-2 refurbishment to make it capable of producing medical isotopes?

No. Reactors designed to produce radioactive isotopes are very different from those like the one at Gentilly-2 that are designed to generate electricity.

However, Gentilly-2 does produce cobalt-60, which is used to sterilize medical equipment and treat cancer. During generating station maintenance shutdowns, we load bars of cobalt into the reactor. While it is in operation, neutron radiation transforms the cobalt, producing cobalt-60, which we remove during next planned shutdown.

What is Bécancour generating station used for?

Commissioned in 1993, Bécancour generating station uses oil combustion gases to drive its four turbines, which have a total capacity of 400 MW.

According to the conditions of its operating permit, the generating station may only be run a maximum of 200 hours a year. Able to start without an external energy source, it is used to repower the ancillary equipment (pumps, rescue and safety equipment) at Gentilly-2 generating station during extended power system outages. We also use it to meet power needs during the winter peak.


For more information on the decommissioning

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