A new state-of-the-art training facility has been officially opened at the Darlington nuclear power plant in Canada. Featuring a full-scale mock-up of the nuclear reactor face, the complex will be used to test tooling and train staff for the reactor refurbishment project, which is due to begin in autumn 2016.
Ontario's energy minister Bob Chiarelli officially opened the Darlington Energy Complex in late October. The $35 million Reactor Mock-up and Training Area was declared ready for service in March 2014, with various bespoke tooling delivered over the summer. Overall, 99% of all of the materials for the facility were procured and manufactured in Ontario.
The complex features an exact replica of a CANDU nuclear reactor unit, with an 8m-high face, complete with 480 fuel channel sites, feeder tubes and fuel channel assemblies. It also includes a number of smaller mock-ups that are identical to other sections of the reactor.
Beginning in 2015, the reactor mock-ups and tools will be used to train the trainers, trades and management for the refurbishment project. The facility will be used to validate the tooling and procedures to ensure that the tools perform as per contract specifications, OPG said.
"This training facility is a state-of-the-art resource which will help ensure the refurbishment of the Darlington reactors is completed on time and on budget," said Chiarelli. "Upgrading and refurbishing our reactors means they will maintain an important role in Ontario's supply mix for generations to come."
The four-unit station Darlington station began operations during the early 1990s and currently provides about 20% of Ontario's electricity needs.
The refurbishment project, which has been six years in planning, is due to start with Darlington Unit 2 in October 2016, and is expected to take approximately three years per unit. Once completed the refurbishment will support continued operation of Darlington for an additional 30 years.
As of August 2014, OPG had entered into direct contracts worth about $1.75 billion related to the Darlington refurbishment project.
Photo: Reactor face mock-up (Credit: OPG)