Niagara Falls company gets $32 million to help build small nuclear reactor


Published March 25, 2022 at 1:51 pm

E.S. Fox of Niagara Falls got a $32 million contract from Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to help build a Small Modular Reactor on the Darlington site in Bowmanville. (Photo: Linked In)

A Niagara Falls company was recently handed a $32 million contract to assist in the creation of a Small Modular Reactor for the Darlington New Nuclear Project in Bowmanville.

E.S. Fox Limited on Montrose Rd in Niagara Falls, which has been in the community since 1934, bills itself as a “multi-trade fabricator and constructor specializing in the industrial, commercial, institutional and nuclear industries.”

Should any Niagara Falls residents be worried about radioactive nuclear components, such as uranium, suddenly being carted by trucks through their streets, this is not the case.

E.S. Fox is under contract to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and their employees will actually be on site in Bowmanville over 200 km away, helping hook up the water, electricity, IT systems and internal roadwork.

So what exactly is a Small Modular Reactor (SMR)? Quick answer: it’s a nuclear reactor… except smaller. They are quite literally small nuclear reactors but because of the negative connotations, the word “nuclear” is not included in their name. That said, most people get the same connection to the word “reactor.”

Whereas the Darlington Nuclear Generation Station is 580 metres long by 137 metres wide by 45 metres high, a small modular reactor could literally fit into a microbrewery the size of Niagara Brewing Company on Clifton Hill in downtown Niagara Falls.

Count E.S. Fox president Spencer Fox among those who believe small modular reactors are the wave of future energy sources.

“We are proud to partner together with OPG as early work begins for the planned Darlington Small Modular Reactor,” he said. “We are honored to be a part of this project and look forward to breaking ground and laying the foundation for OPG to safely set new standards in the global nuclear power generation industry for the benefit of all Ontarians.”

Since small modular reactors operate more like a battery – 20 to 30 years and it’s done – than traditional nuclear plants, it’s often referred to as green energy by proponents. Technically, there are zero carbon emissions and they also help phase out coal and electrify carbon-intensive industries such as mining and petroleum extraction.

But the word “small” is the name isn’t a nod to the component’s size but rather its power output. A SMR produces under 300 megawatts, which is considered small next Darlington’s 6,232 megawatts, enough to power more than a quarter of Ontario.

That said, they are nuclear reactors so you can count on environmental watchdogs eyeing their creation warily.

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