by Barb McKay
After four years of planning and 14 months of construction, Bruce Power’s state-of-the-art Major Component Replacement (MCR) training facility officially opened last week.
Municipality of Kincardine council members, members of provincial parliament, Bruce Power board members, senior staff and guests gathered at the 129,000 square-foot facility off Gary Street on April 25 to celebrate the building’s completion. The building is divided up into office space for 300 employees and a training facility and classrooms that will accommodate 150 trades people. Training will begin this year in preparation for the official start of the MCR project with the refurbishment of Bruce Power’s Unit 6 reactor in January 2020.
Bruce Power president and CEO Mike Rencheck said the company is proud of what has been accomplished over the past three years with its life-extension program.
“And we just finished this brand new training facility on time and on budget,” he said. “Our ability to train the next generation of trades is important because we need to be to combine the artwork and craftsmanship of those folks that are my age that have learned it through years-long profession and merge that with the technology and innovation that we see happening in the world today, with the advanced robotics and with artificial intelligence. Learning to blend and create that next generation of trades (people) with the young apprentices that are entering our industry and the trades industry, and teaching them to use these new tools, will take us to 2064.”
Bruce Power vice-president of corporate affairs James Scongack credited the municipality and council for working with Bruce Power to get the training centre built in a timely fashion and thanked neighbours of the facility for their support.
“In the absence of your support, we would be opening this building right now but it would be over on the Bruce Power site,” he said, “and that would be a disappointment to us, because we want this facility here, and I think it would be a big loss to the community – the tax revenue that’s going to come from the facility, the local businesses that are going to benefit from this, the various things we can do in the evening with this facility in terms of bringing school kids in to learn the skilled trades, all those things are huge and I truly want to thank you.”
Mayor Anne Eadie said the opening of the facility is a special day for Kincardine.
“With this location chosen by Bruce Power, we couldn’t have been happier,” she said. “It was like a dream come true, because it is an anchor for the north end of town and it will really make a difference for the economic development that we have been hoping for and have been working for for years.”
She noted that until now, young people in Kincardine who were interested in skilled trades often had to wait until college to get exposure to them.
“I look forward to the opportunities for our young people now with this facility here and I think it’s coming together. We’ll finally get the opportunities for our young people and for people who want to make a switch in their careers.”
The training facility will feature vault mock-ups that will replicate the environment at the Bruce Power site and allow trades people to work on the actual components they see in the vault. There is a retube control centre and feeder control centre near the high bay shop area where work can be can be done by remote control. Bruce Power has set a target of 48 months to complete the refurbishment of Unit 6 and will shorten that timeframe by six months for each consecutive unit.
Bruce Power vice-president of major projects Jeff Phelps said the facility was developed using lessons learned from Units 1 and 2 and the Darlington refurbishment. A team also visited a similar training facility in Argentina.
“We are looking to train 600 trades people for Unit 6 and about 4,000 when we actually do all six MCRs over the next 15 years or so. The facility will also host some of the project management capability for the Major Component Replacement, including the future unit planning as well, which is where we will dovetail in all the innovations that are included in the Nuclear Innovation Institute.”
Rencheck said there is a correlation between the institute and the training centre.
“I think the Nuclear Innovation Institute will be a good stepping stone for the kids in the area in middle school, elementary school and high school not only to become interested in the trades but into science, technology and math,” he said, “and hopefully if they want to enter the trades they will be able to take on an apprenticeship and someday be able to train here on the robots that are doing our life-extension program.”
Huron-Bruce MPP and Minister of Education Lisa Thompson said she is pleased with the work Bruce Power is doing to give rural youth opportunities in the skilled trades.
“It is my commitment as minister of education that the enthusiasm and energy that we associate with Bruce Power will be felt across Ontario when we do everything we can to encourage young people to have sense of pride that we feel in this room today when it comes to considering trades as an absolutely awesome opportunity for careers,” she said. “I think there is so much potential for trades and amazing careers and futures that will see our young people be proud to work and live in small town Ontario, right here at home in Bruce and Grey.”
David Piccini, parliamentary assistant to the minister of training, colleges and universities, attended the opening and said the facility will have wide-reaching positive effects.
“We know there is a skilled trades shortage,” he said, adding that it is projected to lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses, if not addressed. “This facility is so important because it is going to be vital not only to the success of this replacement project but to the training and skilling of our next generation and of the employees here … Thank you for really challenging us as elected officials to keep up to the rapid pace to keep up and work with you as partners to ensure that we tap into the economic potential of the skilled trades and the important role that this facility will have in training our next generation.”
Bruce Power board chair Don Wishart spoke about the economic benefits of the facility.
“I’m very proud of the work Mike (Rencheck) and his team have done on this facility. It’s an impressive facility. And its location being in an adjacent community to spread the benefits out is something we are proud of as well.
“It is a key element in us being successful as we move forward to refurbishing these units and ensuring that we meet the expectations of all the citizens of Ontario for us to deliver reliable and cheap energy for at least the next 50 years – and 2064 is just a date, we can keep going if we need to.”