Community Matters: Bruce Power units deliver new records in 2019

In the first quarter of 2019, a number of Bruce Power’s units achieved important milestones generating low-cost, clean electricity for Ontario families and businesses, while also producing new, life-saving medical isotopes.

Bruce Power has eight CANDU reactors – Units 1-4 at Bruce A and Unit 5-8 at Bruce B. Combined they generate up to 6,400 MW of electricity, which is one-third of the province’s electricity. They have a long history of reliable service.

Unit 1 set a post-refurbishment record run on Feb. 24 of 193 consecutive days, and continues this strong performance well beyond this date. Unit 1’s run of uninterrupted production is the longest since it was returned to service in 2012, proving that extending the life of Bruce Power’s nuclear fleet provides a stable electricity supply, as nuclear units are proven to perform at high levels of reliability. Unit 1 was shut down by the former Ontario Hydro in the early 1990s and its restart was a key source of supply to enable the Province to phase-out the use of coal-fired generation.

Unit 5 also achieved a long-run record on March 5 when the unit bested its previous record of 520 consecutive days of providing power to the province’s electricity grid. Aside from Unit 5’s record run, Unit 6 hit 556 days on Feb. 15, 2013; Unit 7 established its record of 487 days on Sept. 9, 2016; and Unit 8 set a unit and site record of 623 days on Feb. 13, 2018. These four reactors also produce Cobalt-60, a life-saving medical isotope that is used to sterilize single-use medical devices across the world, while also fighting cancer.

Nuclear units have a high degree of reliability, which is as a key attribute in meeting electricity needs, allowing it to be cost competitive because capital investments are amortized over large volumes of output over many decades.

Medical-grade Cobalt harvest

Recently in Unit 7, Bruce Power completed its first harvest of medical-grade Cobalt-60, which will diagnose and treat brain and breast cancers. The medical-grade Cobalt-60 had spent about two years in the Unit 7 reactor, and will now be processed by Ottawa-based Nordion, and made available to the world’s medical community as it develops new ways to diagnose and treat cancer.

When it was announced the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River was going to be retired in 2018, the medical community was worried there would be a shortage of life-saving medical isotopes. Bruce Power and Nordion responded by developing a new process to produce medical-grade Cobalt-60 in order to prevent a shortage of this cancer-fighting isotope.

By doing so we are ensuring a long-term, stable supply of medical isotopes, advancing human health and saving lives.