Is nuclear power safe?
In Canada’s 40 plus years of using nuclear energy, no member of the public has been harmed as a result of a radiation leak from a nuclear power plant or waste storage facility.
Our units consistently run at more than 80 per cent capacity which compares well against all other technologies .
Safety is paramount in everything we do at Bruce Power. Since taking over the site in 2001, Bruce Power has reduced workplace injuries significantly. In 2010, we achieved over 22 million hours worked without an acute lost-time injury a record run that started back in 2007.
Our safety philosophy is simple – limit the chances of an accident occurring and limit the effects of an accident in the unlikely case that one should occur.
There are three principles upon which all nuclear reactors are designed – redundancy, diversity and segregation.
We ensure accidents don’t happen by providing high quality design, equipment and operators. As an added layer of safety, there are back-up systems and then back-ups for the back-ups.
No. In Canada’s 40 plus years of using nuclear energy, no member of the public has been harmed as a result of a radiation leak from a nuclear power plant or waste storage facility.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is the federal regulator mandated to protect the health and safety of persons and the environment and to ensure national security from risks associated with the use of nuclear energy and nuclear material.
Nuclear power plants require specific approvals for all stages from site selection to decommissioning. An extensive Safety Report is required before construction can begin. CNSC staff conduct inspections during construction and throughout the operating life. Members of the CNSC, located at each site, monitor operations on a day-to-day basis.
The vacuum building design is a unique safety feature of CANDU reactors. It is designed to prevent the release of radioactive material to the environment in the event of an accident.
Given our geologic location, we don’t face the same risks of earthquakes or tsunamis like those that hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Our stations are built in an area of very low seismic activity. That’s in sharp contrast to Japan, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where about 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur. And unlike the Pacific Ocean, inland lakes like Lake Huron are highly unlikely to produce a tsunami or damaging water swell. Even still, our stations are seismically qualified to national and international standards and have multiple back-up cooling and safety systems to ensure reactor control, cooling and radiological containment.
In Boiling Water Reactors, like those at Fukushima, the heat produced by nuclear fission in the reactor core causes circulating water to boil, producing steam. The steam, which is radioactive, drives a turbine directly, after which it is cooled in a condenser (essentially a heat exchanger cooled by sea water, lake water, a large river or cooling tower) and converted back to liquid, which circulates back through the reactor.
In the unlikely event of a loss of all power, our plant’s Emergency Power Supply (EPS) would power nuclear safety-related systems needed to control, cool and contain the fuel. The EPS is seismically and environmentally qualified and has sufficient fuel stores to operate unaided for a seven-day period. Additional fuel is kept on site as a further backup and we could secure more fuel from off site if necessary.