Emergency detection and measurement of radioactivity for Bruce Power nuclear plant

Project Key figures

8

Nuclear reactors with a cumulative power of 6,300 MW

49

Fixed and 10 mobile units equipped with Saphymo SpectroTRACER probes

Bertin Instruments, a CNIM Group company, has supplied the nuclear power plant operated by Bruce Power in Ontario with a monitoring system from its Saphymo range. The system is able to detect and measure the levels of gamma radiation in the air and also to identify remotely the composition of the radionuclides. The equipment has been designed to cope with the extreme weather conditions of the Canadian winter.

The lessons of Fukushima

Located in Ontario, 250 kilometers north-west of Toronto, the Bruce Power plant is one of the most powerful in Canada and one of the largest in the world. With its eight nuclear reactors, it meets 30% of Ontario’s needs for power. Drawing on the lessons from the Fukushima accident, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) recommended a strengthening of the monitoring system. A key requirement was for the reliable, automated transmission of data in real time in the event of an emergency, with a particular focus on levels of gamma rays and the composition of the radionuclides.

Advanced equipment

A total of 49 fixed and 10 mobile units equipped with the Saphymo SpectroTRACER probes were installed around the plant to measure radioactivity levels in the air and on the ground. Powered by solar panels, these units were supported by a further 8 systems for the spectroscopic measurements of aerosols, radioactive iodine and noble gases in the air. The contract also covers the provision of communication interfaces for the secure transmission of data, along with a series of weather stations.

Positive results

Since becoming operational in 2014, the reliability and efficiency of the systems has been fully demonstrated. The solar panels provide enough electricity to power the monitoring stations, even when temperatures fall to -30°C and there is a significant covering of snow. Data transmission by satellite was shown to be extremely useful in an area with poor 3G coverage, while the measuring process is not affected by the considerable fluctuations in temperatures between day and night.