Power operating facility stronger, safer in five years since Fukushima
Friday March 11, 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. Although the facility withstood the 9.0 magnitude earthquake as per its design, a tsunami washed out the back-up generators at the facility, challenging the facility and leading to a nuclear event that was widely publicized.
It is estimated that 20,000 people died as a result of this natural disaster while the nuclear event, to this day, has not resulted in a single death due to radiation exposure. The world’s nuclear industry took this event extremely seriously, however, consistent with the industry’s commitment to Safety First through continuous improvement.
Though the CANDU reactors used on the Bruce site are a fundamentally different design than those in Japan, the Canadian nuclear industry immediately began reviewing its emergency protocols, availability and robustness of equipment back-ups and abilities of its emergency services organizations.
Canada’s nuclear operators recognized the importance of building on lessons from this event, despite the significant differences within the Canadian context to make nuclear facilities safer and strong. In addition, it was important to reassure the public about the high levels of safety at Canada’s nuclear plants.
In the five years since Fukushima, Bruce Power has made continuous improvements on its site, making it safer and stronger in the process. A few of the improvements include:
– Acquiring five new fire trucks that are stored off site and on high, dry ground. They’re specially designed to pump cooling water directly from Lake Huron into our reactors and fuel bays in the unlikely event we lose all emergency back-up generators and cooling systems.
– Purchasing nine back-up generators that are stored off site, on high, dry ground. They can be deployed to either station and can be operational within 30 minutes, in the unlikely situation that the two layers of safety systems built into the station design were to fail.
– Building a state-of-the-art Emergency Management Centre at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre. This facility will act as the control room for any emergency situation and allows for a clear and efficient chain of command. We have also implemented the Incident Management System for emergency response, bringing us in line with emergency response organizations.
– Increasing off-site radiological monitoring equipment so it now provides real-time data.
– Providing potassium iodine tablets to all residents within a 10 km radius in the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency.
– Receiving Canada’s first emergency test broadcasting license for portable AM units, which will make communicating during an emergency more effective than ever before. We have also collaborated with the Municipality of Kincardine to deploy ALERT FM radios in all homes within a 10 kilometre radius of the site. The ALERT FM receiver is linked to the Emergency Alert Ready System and will broadcast all Threat to Life Alerts with an audible alert and text message within seconds.
– Continuously training to ensure our emergency response organization is prepared for a crisis caused by a natural disaster or nuclear emergency. This includes training on payloaders and tractors, which may be required to move debris from roads or deploy back-up generators across site.
For more information on Bruce Power’s emergency response improvements since the nuclear event at Fukushima, watch this video at http://bit.ly/1X7xpo4.
Bruce Power operates the world’s largest operating nuclear generating facility and is the source of roughly 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity. The company’s site in Tiverton, Ont. is home to eight CANDU reactors, each one capable of generating enough low-cost, reliable, safe and clean electricity to meet the annual needs of a city the size of Hamilton. Formed in 2001, Bruce Power is an all-Canadian partnership among Borealis Infrastructure Trust Management (a division of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System), TransCanada, the Power Workers’ Union and the Society of Energy Professionals. A majority of Bruce Power’s employees are also owners in the business.
Source: Bruce Power