Argentina's Embalse, in the province of Cordoba, a 648MWe pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) will be out of service for two years for refurbishment and maintenance which will enable a further 30 years of operation and an uprate to 683MWe.
The plant began operation in 1984 and it supplies around 3% of Argentina's electricity. In addition to power generation, it produces Cobalt-60 for medical, scientific and industrial use.
The outage - initially planned for 2011, then postponed first to 2013 and then to 2014 and then to February 20115 - finally began on 31 December. The government had decided on life extension for Eembalse in 2007 and Congress approved the measure in 2009.
Work will include the construction of concrete silos for to store the 380 pressure tubes which will be replaced with new ones manufactured locally. The steam generators will also be replaced. The cost of the refurbishment is estimated at $1.6bn, part of which will be financed with a loan from the Andean Development Corporation (CAF).
Some of the upgrades have already been completed by the 500 plant employees. Some 1,500 companies are being contracted for the work including national state companies Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA and Invap; private companies Electroingeniería, IMPSA, Vialco and Perez Companc; and foreign companies Ansaldo (Italy), CANDU and E3 (Canada). It is estimated that at the peak some 3000 workers could be involved.