OPG in Bruce County: Community Update – November, 2021

Fred Kuntz, Sr. Mgr., Corporate Relations and Projects | Bruce County

New name, new mission:  Today we have a new name for the Nuclear Waste Management division at Ontario Power Generation – we’re now called OPG Nuclear Sustainability Services.

“Sustainability” is at the heart of the team’s new strategic plan, with a growing emphasis on the Three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle – aligned with OPG’s Climate Change Plan.  That kind of environmental good stewardship has always been important at OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility, located at the Bruce nuclear site, and all its operations across Ontario.  Now, Nuclear Sustainability Services is launching multiple new initiatives and investments in innovation, technologies and processing capabilities to further protect the environment.

You can learn more about Nuclear Sustainability Services in a new video posted on YouTube. The team provides services to OPG-owned generating stations, including accepting, transporting, processing and storing nuclear materials – the by-products of producing clean nuclear energy.

Of course, all energy sources have by-products.  With solar, for example, it’s the used panels that go to landfill. For fossil fuels, it’s carbon and other emissions that go into the atmosphere as air pollution, threatening human health and causing climate change.  One advantage for nuclear, which is zero-carbon, is that the by-products are relatively small in volume, they are all tracked and safely stored, and they return to harmless levels over time.

As well, describing all nuclear by-products as “waste” is incorrect – and another reason to change the name. When the team sorts materials from the stations, some turn out to be clean, suitable for free release or recycling – including metals such as copper and steel. Nuclear Sustainability Services handles materials that are valuable to other industries. Tritium turns into Helium-3, a rare isotope needed in quantum computing and neutron research. Among the most vital by-products of nuclear fission are medical isotopes, such as Cobalt-60 and Molybdenum-99, purposely created in CANDU reactors for use in medical imaging, treating cancers and sterilizing equipment in health care, saving millions of lives around the world. 

With its new name and new plan in place, a top priority for Nuclear Sustainability Services is the reduction of volumes that go to interim storage and, eventually, permanent disposal. Volume reduction is achieved through sorting, processing and recycling. It’s good for the environment and, in the long run, it also saves on costs, which helps to mitigate the cost of electricity for ratepayers.  To help achieve these benefits, OPG is making a new investment in the Bruce-area economy, which brings us to our next exciting item:

Investing in innovation:  OPG plans to build a new facility in Kincardine, called Western Clean-Energy Sorting and Recycling (WCSR), to be in-service in mid-2022, pending all necessary approvals. 

The purpose is to maximize recycling and free release of clean-materials, while minimizing volumes for interim storage and permanent disposal. This will benefit the environment, by reducing the need for new storage buildings.    

The WCSR will employ about 25 people in a 42,000-square-foot facility just east of the Bruce nuclear site, at the Bruce Energy Centre industrial park.

The facility will deploy innovations in the sorting and segregation of low-level materials from OPG-owned generating stations. It will build on findings in a research project, launched in 2020 as a partnership between OPG subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners and McMaster University, called Hamilton Clean-Energy Materials Sorting & Recycling (HMCSR).

Engaged in our communities:  In the coming days, OPG will make the rounds of Bruce-area municipal councils to provide updates and answer questions about Nuclear Sustainability Services, our activities at the Western facility and other OPG news around the province.  Please check your local municipal website for details, if you wish to view any virtual or in-person council meeting.  Dates for OPG’s appearances are: Kincardine, Nov. 15; Huron-Kinloss, Nov. 15; Arran-Elderslie, Nov. 22; Saugeen Shores, Nov. 22; Brockton, Nov. 23; and Bruce County, Dec. 2.

Around Ontario and beyond:


  • Powerful women:  Three of OPG’s leaders  have been awarded the Women’s Executive Network’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards. Nicolle Butcher, who won in the Executive Leaders category, is OPG’s Senior Vice President of Renewable Generation and Power Marketing,  the first female head of an operations group in OPG’s history. Anju Virmani, won under the C-Suite category, is a member of OPG’s talented and diverse Board of Directors. Emily Tarle, who was nominated under the Professionals category, serves as Vice President of Station Engineering at OPG.
  • Indigenous scholarships:  Three Ontario Indigenous students have each received $10,000 as part of OPG’s newly-expanded John Wesley Beaver Scholarship Program.  Shelby Empey, a Métis woman from Kirkfield, studies law at the University of Ottawa.    Brooke Gelinas, a Métis woman from Iroquois Falls, studies science at the University of Western Ontario.  Gregory Rickard from Moose Factory, who served seven years with the Nishnawbe Aski Police force, now studies Human Resources at Confederation College.
  • Net Zero needs nuclear: A new campaign supported by OPG and Bruce Power has one simple message: no path to net zero exists without nuclear. Economies around the world have less than 30 years to cut carbon emissions to net zero. To meet this crucial climate-change objective, Canada and all countries will need to harness all clean-energy solutions, including nuclear power. “Achieving net-zero by 2050 is crucial,” said Ken Hartwick, President and CEO, Ontario Power Generation, “and nuclear power is the flexible, economical, safe solution to provide the clean baseload electricity necessary to get us there.”
  • Historic achievement: Congratulations to the Darlington Refurbishment team on the successful completion of the world’s first combined and simultaneous removal of pressure tubes and calandria tubes from a CANDU reactor. This innovative approach will reduce project work by 30 days per unit and brings considerable radiological and conventional safety improvements for staff.
  • Strong performance: OPG reported results for the third quarter of 2021, with net of $426 million, up from $386 million for the same period last year (these earnings go to the shareholder, the province of Ontario). Remarking on Q3 operations, CEO Ken Hartwick noted good progress on the Darlington Refurbishment and the recent release of OPG’s first-ever Reconciliation Action Plan.