Province would be on the hook for expensive design changes if regs amended
TORONTO—A federal government review says the Ontario government needs to learn from the nuclear crisis in Japan when building new power plants east of Toronto.
Plans to build two nuclear reactors at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site in Clarington, Ont. are expected to eventually produce about one-twelfth of the province’s energy supply. But a review panel says concerns following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster will force the federal government to adopt stiffer regulatory requirements for future nuclear sites in Canada.
Compliance with any new requirements would increase costs to build these plants, Ontatio Power Generation says. The province would have to foot the bill for the higher costs if contracts have been signed once new regulations are introduced.
The province has already allocated $33 billion – $6 billion more than the original budget of $26 billion.
Federal regulation changes would most certainly force nuclear plant designers to make expensive changes, says Mark Winfield, a York University environmental studies professor and energy expert.
“They’ll have to go back to the drawing board to some degree and redesign the system and then there will be the additional cost of incorporating those design changes into the actual reactor,” he says.
Those costs will remain relatively unknown until regulatory changes are made, he adds.
The Ontario government is not aware of any impending changes to regulatory requirements for nuclear plants, says Andrew Block, a spokesman for provincial Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
The province is nonetheless working independently to ensure all nuclear reactors in Ontario are safe, he adds.
The commission asked OPG to review the safety of its nuclear reactors in the weeks following the leak in Japan. The agency concluded all the plants were safe and robustly designed in a report released in April.