Refurbishment for Canada's Darlington

12 January 2016

Canada's Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has approved plans for a $12.8bn refurbishment of four reactors at its Darlington NPP, east of Toronto.

In a news release, the province said the refurbishment will add $15bn to Ontario's gross domestic product and will create up to 11,800 jobs annually. The project including all four reactors will involve roughly 30m hours of work over a decade involving more than 180 companies. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said: "Proceeding with the refurbishment at Darlington will ensure that nuclear continues to be Ontario's single largest source of power."

Work is expected to begin this October and all four units are scheduled to be completely refurbished by 2026. However, OPG will have to seek government approval of each reactor refurbishment project, a move the government says will protect consumers. Sources familiar with the announcement say the final budget includes a $1.7bn contingency fund in case of cost-overruns on the $4.5bn part of the project carried out inside the reactor as opposed to the fixed contracts for the majority of the supporting infrastructure.

SNC-Lavalin and Aecon Group have been awarded a $2.75bn contract by OPG as part of the upgrading of the Darlington. The joint venture, between Aecon and SNC-Lavalin Nuclear Inc, is a contract to carry out the execution phase of the Re-tube and Feeder Replacement project for the Darlington refurbishment programme. The contract is a 50/50 joint venture.

In December, Bruce Power also announced plans to spend $13bn to refurbish six units at the Brice nuclear plant in Kincardine. The Liberal government wants to extend the scheduled lifespan of the reactors at both plants, which would normally end around 2020, by 30 years. Bruce Power assumed all risks of cost overruns for the project, which will start in 2020, four years later than originally planned.

Ontario's only other nuclear generating station, in Pickering, is also scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020, but the province has approved OPG's plan to continue operation until 2024 to preserve 4,500 jobs and is seeking the necessary approvals from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ontario Energy Board. "The plan to refurbish the Darlington nuclear units and to keep Pickering in operation longer during the refurbishment period is a cost effective way to meet our future power needs," said Bruce Campbell, president and chief executive officer of the Independent Electricity System Operator.

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