There has been a lot of talk about the Korean Candu reactor Wolsong 1 which started its refurbishment after Point Lepreau, and was completed before Lepreau. What a lot of people don’t know is that after 1 year and 4 months of operation after it’s refurbishment, Wolsong’s operating licence ran out because the reactor had passed its design life. The operator of the plant applied for the life extension in 2009, but it has still not got the green light for operation. It has been shut down ever since Nov 2012.
I am glad the Korean regulator is taking the life extension of Wolsong 1 very seriously-despite power shortages due to the shutdown of several reactors. Perhaps they are concerned because several safety documents had been found falsified at other reactors. Charges have now been laid to over 100 individuals including employees of the regulator. Korea is no longer rubber stamping the operations of this geriatric reactor.
This is in contrast to the recent Pickering licence renewal in which the CNSC staff approved the continued operation of the Pickering nuclear reactor beyond its design life. They approved this even without the costly refurbishment process of replacing the deteriorated pressure tubes, one of the main limiting factors for safe operation. Luckily, due to interventions from myself, Greenpeace, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and others, another public hearing is needed before Pickering can be operated beyond its design life. As well, due in large part to our interventions, a page and a half of additional conditions were also put upon Pickering’s license.
It seems odd to me to be wishing that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission act more like the Korean regulator, especially even after the recent findings of corruption within its ranks. The Canadian government should really take a page from their book, and think very seriously about the safety of operating a nuclear reactor beyond it’s design life.
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