Nuclear Power Ontario

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NuclearPower Ontario

Nuclearpower has become a preferred source of energy in different regionsdue to its ability to reduce emissions to the environment. InOntario, nuclear power has the capacity of meeting more than 50% ofthe province’s electricity needs.1The nuclear power generation in Ontario operates two power stations,which are Darlington and Pickering. These two stations have a jointgenerating capacity of approximately 6,600 megawatts. The two majorbenefits the nuclear power plant is that the operating costs are lowand there are virtually no emissions that can result in smog, globalwarming or acid rain. This being the case, there is a reduced cost ofproviding electricity, which is exceedingly critical since theresources that could have used in the operations of the plant can beutilized in other areas that require developments. Alternatively,since no emissions that can lead to acid rain or global warming areproduced, the plant is in a position to keep the environment clean,which advantageous to the ecosystem. The third benefit of the nuclearplant is that it is capable of providing continuous amounts of energywithout failure since it does not rely on the environmental cycles.In addition, the fourth benefit is associated with the provision ofemployment opportunities to the surrounding communities, which iscritical in assisting individuals earn a living.2For instance, individuals can be employed as engineers in the Ontarioplant and provide for their families using the salaries that theyearn. However, the disadvantage is in providing the initial cost forthe nuclear reactors since they are exceeding expensive, as well asthe cost of refurbishment of the plant. Another disadvantageoriginates from the production of radiation in the plant, which cancause health hazards to individuals working in the plant and thoseliving within the surrounding of the plant.3Based on the analysis of the merits and demerits that emerge as aresult of establishing a nuclear plant, it is apparent that thebenefits are weighty compared to the demerits thus, the nuclearplant is necessary in the region.

NuclearPower in Ontario

Whiledifferent regions are seeking to balance the benefits of producingnuclear energy with other forms of energy, an independent analysisindicate that nuclear power is Ontario’s best option in deliveringlow-carbon emissions, providing reliable and affordable electricitywhile producing high-value employment opportunities and economicgrowth. The International Energy Agency revealed that the capacity ofnuclear power generation will need to be twofold by 2050 in order forthe globe to be in a position to meet the warming goal of 2°C.4In one year, the nuclear reactors of Canada help in avoidingapproximately 90 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which issimilar to eliminating 81% of the cars in Canada off the road.Opponents of nuclear plants tend to argue that the cost of generatingnuclear energy is exceedingly high however, this is not the case.Although upfront outlays can be very high for building of new nuclearreactors or refurbishment, expenditures are spread over time ofoperation. When it comes to the issue of climate change, nuclearpower compares favorably with renewable sources of energy, and isbetter ahead of fossil fuels on the basis of carbon emissions.

Nuclearreactor fleet in Ontario has been the electricity workhorse of theprovince, and has safely and reliably offered 24 hours/7days baseload electricity for 50 years and above. Nuclear power has been in aposition to meet more than 50% of the Ontario’s electricity needs,which is a good indication of the reliance of the nuclear power inthe province. Ontario’s nuclear industry has the capacity ofsupporting above 160 supply chain organizations, 60,000 direct andindirect employment opportunities, and hundreds of millions annuallyin R&ampD at the province’s colleges and universities.5

OntarioPower Generation (OPG) runs and owns Darlington and Pickering nuclearplants, which have a production capacity of around 6,600 megawatts.OPG ensures that there are no public safety issues emanating from itsoperations. The nuclear stations of OPG are designed with multiplesafety systems, which are staffed by personnel who are exceptionallywell trained. For more than forty years that nuclear energy hasserved the Canada energy needs, no public member has become hurt bythe wastes from storage facilities or radiation emission from anuclear plant. There is a continuous radiation monitoring at theperimeter of nuclear stations in order to ensure that the public issafeguarded against radiation emission at all times.

Howa Nuclear Reactor Works

Nuclearreactors work just like any other conventional power generatingequipment in the production of electricity. However, instead of usingnatural gas, coal, or oil, the Ontario nuclear reactors utilizenatural uranium for fuel. Uranium atoms produce heat by splitting.The moment a neutron collides a uranium atom, the atom of uraniumruptures into lighter atoms and generates heat at the same time. Thesplitting process also produces one to three additional neutrons,which can play the role of splitting other atoms of uranium. This isconsidered as the start of a chain reaction where more and moreuranium atoms become split, generating additional heat and neutrons.In a power reactor, there is a tight control of the chain reaction inorder to ensure that only the required amount of heat becomesgenerated that would be associated in producing a specified quantityof electricity.

Thefission/splitting process produces a large amount of heat. The heatis moved to boilers in order to make steam. This is critical inmaking the vast heat generated useful. In a CANDU (Canada DeuteriumUranium) reactor, heavy water is used in the generation of steam.Water is pumped steadily through the fuel networks in the reactortaking the heat from the bundles of fuel and up the boilers locatedabove the reactor. It is in the boilers that the ordinary waterbecomes heated by the heated water to produce steam. After the steamis generated, it is channeled out of the boilers to the turbine hall,where it rotates the turbines that end up making electricity. Adiagrammatic representation of this process is shown in the followingillustration

Source:HowDoes A Nuclear Power Plant Work?

Increating a chain reaction, Canadian reactors utilize fuel that isnatural uranium. Almost all the CANDU fuel is U-238. This orecontains 0.7% of U-235, which is an isotope of uranium that isunstable and splits spontaneously. The spontaneous fission of U-235helps in obtaining a controlled chain reaction moving to the mass offuel inside the reactor. However, for a chain reaction to occur inthe fuel, three conditions must be satisfied simultaneously, whichinclude several tons of fuel must be present, fuel tubes must have aspecial arrangement not too close and not too far, and a moderatormust surround the fuel. The purpose of the moderator is to slow downthe speed of the neutrons from the fission in order to facilitate ahigher chance of colliding and splitting more uranium atoms. In theCanadian reactors, the moderator used is heavy water, which isconsidered to be very efficient in slowing down the neutrons while atthe same time not taking or absorbing a large number of them. Heavywater is usually used as the moderator in the Canadian reactorsbecause it is believed to be 10% heavier compared to the ordinarywater since it contains deuterium, which is a heavy form of hydrogen.

Thenatural uranium fuel used by the OPG reactors undergoes someprocesses, where it is first made into ceramic pellets, after which,it is vacuum-packed into metal tubes. The tubes are them arranged infuel packets that weigh approximately 22 kilograms per bundle. Onebundle is estimated to generate the same quantity of heat as 400 tonsof coal.6The center of an OPG reactor is the calandria. This is a vastcylindrical tank that is usually filled with heavy water asmoderator. The calandria is usually penetrated horizontally bynumerous fuel channels, where fuel bundles are placed. Through thechannels of the fuel, pressurized heavy water is pumped and itbecomes heated by the fuel to 300ºC. After this, it moves to aboiler where it heats ordinary water to generate steam that propelsthe turbine to produce electricity. The following illustration showsOPG reactor in the process of generating electricity.

Source:HowDoes A Nuclear Power Plant Work?

Safetyand Reactor Control

Liquidzone controllers, as well as mechanical control absorbers, areinvolved in automatically controlling the reactor to the reactorpower that is required. The tubes and control rods can be controlledmanually or can be activated for computer control. In the course of aroutine operation, it is possible for operators to shut down areactor by inserting the control rods completely. However, inemergency circumstances, a different set of neutron absorbing rodsare used, where they are automatically dropped into the reactorforcing it to shut down. The rods used during emergency are referredto as shut-off rods. In all OPG reactors, the safety systems areusually self-governing of the process systems and free from eachother. During the normal operations of the reactor, they do notfunction and become active in case the systems are not in a positionto support safe shut down or else the cooling of the unit.

Eachof OPG’s reactors is bounded by a sealed reactor structure havingsteel reinforced, concrete walls that are usually one meter thick.The building of the reactor is linked to the vacuum building by avast duct. In the event of a leakage in the reactor system, water andsteam can be released to into the reactor building, which would leadto a rise in pressure. The pressure would then result in the openingof the valves that connect the reactor and the vacuum buildings. Thisimplies that any leaked waste and radioactive materials would be heldup in the vacuum building, where they can stay for one to two days,after which, they decay.


Thenuclear power generation in Ontario operates two power stations,which are Darlington and Pickering. These two stations have a jointgenerating capacity of approximately 6,600 megawatts. Nuclear powerhas a merit in that it has a reduced cost of providing electricity,which is exceedingly critical since the resources that could haveused in the operations of the plant can be utilized in other areasthat require developments. Alternatively, since no emissions that canlead to acid rain or global warming are produced, the plant is in aposition to keep the environment clean, which advantageous to theecosystem. Another benefit of nuclear power plant in Ontario is thatit has provided both direct and indirect job opportunities toindividuals, which is crucial to the economy of Canada. However, thechief disadvantage of the plant is that it can produce radioactivematerials, which are a health hazard to the people living around theplant, and those working inside the plant. However, the monitoringused by Ontario Power Generation ensures that professionals areinvolved in steady watch so that no public becomes affected.Furthermore, in ensuring that there is maximum safety, the reactorsbuilding are well bounded and there are controls that ensure thateven if there is leakage, radioactive materials become held up untilit decays.


Bratt,Duane. 2012. Canada,the provinces, and the global nuclear revival: advocacy coalitions inaction.Montreal: McGill-Queen`s University Press.

CanadaNuclear Association. 2015. EconomicBenefits.Retrieved from

Gorrie,Peter. 2016. Disadvantageslurk in push for nuclear power.Retrieved from

Mackinnon,Don. 2015. NuclearPower Offers Ontario the Most Benefits.Retrieved from

OntarioPower Generation. 2017. HowDoes A Nuclear Power Plant Work?

1 Bratt, Duane. 2012. Canada, the provinces, and the global nuclear revival: advocacy coalitions in action. Montreal: McGill-Queen`s University Press. P. 48.

2 Canada Nuclear Association. 2015. Economic Benefits. Retrieved from

3 Gorrie, Peter. 2016. Disadvantages lurk in push for nuclear power. Retrieved from

4 Mackinnon, Don. 2015. Nuclear Power Offers Ontario the Most Benefits. Retrieved from

5 Mackinnon, Don. 2015. Nuclear Power Offers Ontario the Most Benefits. Retrieved from

6 Ontario Power Generation. 2017. How Does A Nuclear Power Plant Work? P. 4.