Canada’s SNC-Lavalin announced on 24 November that it has been awarded a contract from Argentina's Nucleoelectrica Argentina SA (NA-SA) for the Candu nuclear new build project at the Atucha NPP in the district of Zarate, about 100 kilometres from Buenos Aires. If the project is realised, it will be the first new Candu built since unit 2 at Romania’s Cernavoda NPP came on line in 2007.
The six-month contract will allow SNC-Lavalin to engage with suppliers for long-lead equipment, conduct preliminary design work, deliver safety analysis, offer licensing support and provide technical assistance from Canada. The announcement followed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to Argentina where he met with President Mauricio Macri for wide-ranging discussions including Argentina's increasing energy demand.
Argentina already owns and operates a Candu reactor at Embalse, about 650km northwest of Buenos Aires, which began commercial operation in 1984. As well as supplying electricity, Embalse is also used to produce Cobalt-60, a radioisotope used in medical and industrial applications. SNC-Lavalin is currently engaged in the life extension of the Embalse reactor.
The Atucha NPP hosts two of Argentina's three operating pressurised heavy water reactors, which have a total generating capacity of 1,627MWe. Atucha 1 and 2 plus Embalse provide about 10% of Argentina’s electricity. A prototype domestically designed and developed 25MWe small pressurised water reactor - CAREM - is under construction at a site adjacent to the Atucha plant.