In confirming the facility's closure, Hydro-Qu├ębec's President and Chief Executive Officer, Thierry Vandal, highlighted the expertise and great professionalism of its staff, stating that "the uncertainty surrounding the refurbishment project in the past few years has never compromised Gentilly-2's safe, efficient operation. I would like to thank all employees, and I know that I can count on them throughout the upcoming phases leading to the facility's decommissioning."
Hydro-Qu├ębec assures its employees and their union representatives that the next stages will be carried out with the expert help of several staff members and in compliance with existing collective agreements.
In accordance with its licensing conditions, Gentilly-2 will remain in operation until the end of 2012, following which Hydro-Qu├ębec will prepare the facility for dormancy with a view to its dismantling several decades from now. These preparations will extend over an 18-month period ending in mid-2014. Among other things, they will involve defueling the reactor, treating the heavy water and deactivating several systems.
Once this is done, the generating station will remain dormant for some 40 years, after which the spent fuel will be removed from the site, the facility dismantled and the site restored. These steps will last until 2062 and will be executed safely, in compliance with existing regulations.
Hydro-Qu├ębec will also participate in information sessions as part of the decommissioning process, which will be supervised by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission CNSC.' The decommissioning of Gentilly-2 will cost $1.8 billion over a period exceeding 50 years.
Hydro-Qu├ębec is releasing its report on the Gentilly-2 refurbishment project. Based on a detailed analysis, it has concluded that the project is no longer justified from a financial standpoint.
Several factors have had an impact on the project's business case. Major problems incurred in similar projects at Point Lepreau New Brunswick and Wolsong South Korea, along with the uncertainty surrounding the sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited AECL, led Hydro-Qu├ębec to postpone the start of work several times.
Recently, in light of the feedback it has obtained on the complete refurbishment cycle, the company has reassessed the cost of the project to $4.3 billion. This corresponds to a unit cost of 12.3┬ó per kilowatthour, taking into account the investment required as well as $2 billion in future costs related to the spent fuel and long-term decommissioning of the generating station.
The increase in project costs, combined with falling market prices, has prompted Hydro-Qu├ębec to recommend to the Qu├ębec government that the generating station be closed.