Point Lepreau (Canada)

Map of Point Lepreau

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640 MW (PHWR) Candu reactor, constructed by AECL; operation started in 1982.

Facilities in Point Lepreau

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
Point LepreauCANDU 640 (PHWR)19751982

Renewal of operating licence

"Canadian regulators have announced a decision to renew the operating licence for New Brunswick Power's Point Lepreau plant for five years. The regulator has also given permission for fuel loading and restarting of the reactor, which has been offline since 2008 for major refurbishment work.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced its decision to revoke the plant's current licence, replacing it with a new one valid to 30 June 2017, following a two day public hearing. The regulator has also recommended that a site-specific seismic hazard assessment be completed for the station, and has required New Brunswick Power to share the results through its public information program.

The single unit Point Lepreau plant is a 680 MWe Candu 6 pressurized heavy water plant, which began commercial operation in 1983. It was taken off line in March 2008 for a major refurbishment including the replacement of all 380 fuel channels, calandria tubes and feeder tubes, to enable the plant's operating life to be extended by an additional 25-30 years. Originally anticipated to take 16 months to complete, the C$1.4 billion ($1.4 billion) refurbishment has been further extended by the need to remove and replace all the calandria tubes for a second time after problems with seal tightness. The retubing is now anticipated to be finished by May 2012 with the plant expected to return to service later in the year."
(source: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org)


Canadian regulators sharply criticized New Brunswick Power's operation of the Point Lepreau plant, saying safety performance appears to be deteriorating there.
In annual assessments of the country's six nuclear stations, released by the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) last week, the board's regulatory staff said that Pt. Lepreau released no hazardous emissions off site last year, but more events with greater severity indicate a deteriorating safety performance.


Canadian regulators haven't seen much evidence" of sustained improvement of the plant's safety.
The Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB) staff said there were two potential impediments to the renewal of Pt. Lepreau´s two-year operating license when it expires October 31.
In the current license period, Pt. Lepreau has sustained two major outages and a few minor ones" A cracked feeder pipe shut down the station for three months early last year. Subsequent investigation found serious errors in work control and inadequate supervision, which prompted the regulators to question NB Power's ability...to maintain configuration control"
Last year, NB Power reported 43 significant events including 26 in which the utility didn't comply with license requirements. There were 11 level 1 events on the INES last year and one level 2 event involving a significant failure in safety provisions."
The level 2 event turned up a discrepancy between the design drawing and field configuration of the emergency core cooling system (ECCS) which caused a reduction in the system's ability to mitigate the consequences of a potential accident. The ECCS was unavailable for about 2.5 months last year.


Reporting on an independent study of NB Power´s least cost options - Pt. Lepreau or a combined cycle natural gas facility - NB told the AECB that, pending a final report, "the most important conclusions are that the station should not be shutdown and that Pt. Lepreau has the potential to be cost competitive well beyond a major plant refurbishment (including) pressure tubes and feeder tubes somewhere between 2005 and 2011 and a possible SG refurbishment in 2020."
The Candu plant, which consistently ran at between 90% and 99% capacity in its first eight years (1988-95), sustained premature ageing troubles which curtailed its operation to only 16 weeks in 1996 and 63% of its generating capacity last year.
In renewing Pt. Lepreau´s operating license for the customary two-year period in October 1996, the AECB required that NB Power report to the regulatory board every six months on the progress it was making.
On April 23, NB Powers report to the AECB indicated that the number of reportable events per 100.000 person-hours has been reduced from about 3,75 in October - March 1996-97 and 4,00 in April-Semptember 1997 to 3,00 in October-March 1997-98.


New Brunswick Power's Point Lepreau, shut down by equipment failures or two months went critical on 28.3.1997.
Station staff had to do a "an extensive inspection and unanticipated repairs" to a neutron detector that monitors fuel in the reactor channels. Then they had trouble with a motorized valve on the feedwater system. That was fixed, but there was a possible problem involving the suspension rods and hangers that support feeder pipes of the heat transport system. The supports must allow free movement of the piping as it expands with increased heat during startup.
They had problems with this on the weekend which weren't anticipated and there are still potential difficulties if these feeder cans don't move freely. Then they would have to cool the reactor back down and go inside the cabinet to fix them.


The 680-MW pressurized heavy water reactor has been unexpectedly out of service since October, and replacement power costs run between $ 9- and $ 10-million monthly.
The maintenance snafu which caused the outage was discovered when NB Power tried to restart the unit following a six-month maintenance outage. A 9,000-horsepower pump in the heat transport system was knocked out of service because workers had inadvertently left behind a wooden pipe cover used during the outage. The cover made contact with the pump impeller. Excessive load on the impeller broke the pump drive.
Pieces of the wooden cover got into the heat transport system, said NB Power spokesman Roland Krause. "Most of the material has been located in the discharge header and some of it has been removed using a remote-controlled underwater robot," he said. NB Power engineers are developing "other procedures" to get the rest of the wood.
The pump fix will cost NB Power $ 9.5-million. The unit is expected to be back at full power in mid-December.


Small leak in the heavy water system. The leak of 8-10 kg per hour is located within the containment building at a point not accessible when the unit is operation. Leak will be repaired during next planned outage in April unless it increases significantly.


Six month outage planned to reposition the spacer springs that isolate the fuel carrying tubes from surrounding coolant channels in all 480 PT; cost Cdn $ 34 million; Repositioning the springs will avoid retubing the reactor, which could cost $ 200 million.


8 employees received radiation doses when their water was spiked with heavy water. 1 received as much as 200 mSv. 3 others more than the annual limit of 50 mSv, when someone added about a half cupful of irradiated heavy water to the water cooler in the coffee shop.