Decommissioning of the Gentilly‑2 facilities

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 has general contingency plans for all of its facilities that take into account various scenarios, including natural disasters such as earthquakes. For security reasons, the details of these plans must remain confidential and the plans for the Gentilly‑2 facilities are no exception. Even after these facilities have been decommissioned, Hydro‑Québec will continue to secure the site in accordance with applicable regulations.

How long will waste remain on the site?

The spent fuel bundles safely stored in the CANSTOR storage modules will be transferred to a permanent site around 2048.

The low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste in the Solid Radioactive Waste Management Facility (SRWMF) and Radioactive Waste Storage Area (RWSA) will remain on the Gentilly‑2 site until a definitive storage solution has been determined. We are solely responsible for the radioactive elements in the Gentilly‑2 facilities. At this moment, no permanent site is available for all of these elements. We are working with other radioactive waste owners and Natural Resources Canada to determine the future location for such a site and prepare it for construction.

We are also ensuring that waste is kept in our secure, watertight and robust dry storage areas and will continue doing so until a definitive solution is found.

Can decommissioning activities have an impact on the environment or on public health?

All decommissioning activities carried out at the Gentilly‑2 site are subject to strict environmental and safety standards and are closely monitored. Just as it did during operation, Hydro‑Québec complies with all regulatory requirements. Current environmental monitoring at the Gentilly‑2 facilities has demonstrated that decommissioning activities have had no notable impact on the environment nor any impact on the health of employees or the public. These conclusions were confirmed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which asserted that “the Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) results for 2015, 2016 and 2018 indicate that the public and environment near the G-2 Facilities are protected and that there are no expected health or environmental impacts.”

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 2063-2064.

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.

Are Indigenous communities involved in the decommissioning process?

For files related to the Gentilly‑2 facilities, as with all projects concerning the Odanak and Wôlinak Abenaki communities, we are in contact with the Grand conseil de la nation Waban-Aki (GCNWA), which works with these communities. In 2021, we agreed to conduct archaeological surveys on the Gentilly‑2 site and identify black ash, a valuable tree species used in their traditional activities.

What is Hydro‑Québec doing to ensure that it has a highly specialized workforce in light of the labor shortage and loss of expertise due to the aging population?

For the most part, the personnel working at the Gentilly‑2 facilities were there when the nuclear power plant was in operation. They have invaluable expertise and a process has been put in place to ensure that their knowledge is passed on to new specialized staff. We also practise exemplary document management to ensure the future generations handling the rest of the nuclear facilities’ life cycle can access quality information during the full decommissioning of the facilities and site remediation.

To reach us

Info-Project line

1 866 388‑1978


Véronique Trépanier
Advisor – Community Relations