Canada’s Bruce Power said on 24 February that it was celebrating a successful first year of its Major Component Replacement (MCR) project which began in January 2020 with the start of its unit 6 refurbishment. Bruce Power said it had been a challenging year in face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight pressurised heavy-water Candu reactor units at the Bruce site (Bruce A – units 1-4, and Bruce B – units 4-8) began commercial operation between 1977 and 1987. Bruce Power’s CAD13 billion ($10 billion) Life Extension Programme, which includes Asset Management and MCR, began in 2016. MCR, which began with unit 6 and also includes units 3-8, will extend the life of the site until 2064. Units 1&2 have already been refurbished. The work, is expected to take 46 months for each unit. The life extension will add about 30 to 35 years of operational life for each unit, while other investments will add a combined 30 reactor years of operational life to the plant.

Bruce Power said the unit 6 project has included the removal of 50,000 feet of feeder tube from the vault and the event-free removal of the lower feeders – a first in Candu refurbishments. The first phase of MCR remains on track, despite a two-month delay due to COVID-19. The company responded to the pandemic by providing 2.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment, nearly $1 million in aid to researchers and food banks, and another $1 million to support local communities, organisations and businesses. A pair of successful Cobalt-60 harvests supported the production of medical isotopes to sterilise 24 billion gloves and swabs for COVID-19 treatment.

“I’m extremely proud of the company’s accomplishments last year, in keeping our unit 6 MCR on track, continuing to operate our units efficiently and effectively, and for being there when our communities and the province needed help in the fight against this public health crisis,” said Mike Rencheck, President and CEO.

Lisa Thompson, Huron-Bruce MPP and the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, expressed her gratitude to the company for its role in powering Ontario through COVID-19.

“Bruce Power has demonstrated real community leadership here in Huron-Bruce and across the province since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Thompson said. “I appreciate their work with our local communities to confront the difficult challenges we have all faced over the past year, and thank them for their commitment to continuing to support the residents of Huron-Bruce through the pandemic and beyond.”

Rencheck acknowledged several supply chain companies for their efforts in completing the manufacturing of reactor components for the unit 6 MCR, including Laker Energy/BWXT, Cameco, Nu-tech, Brotech, BCI, and Niagara Energy. “Having the components on time sets us up very well to complete several major milestones on the Unit 6 refurbishment in 2021,” Rencheck said. “We’re grateful to these companies for helping to put us in a position to stay on schedule. We’re committed to helping bring an end to COVID-19, and to continue working towards a clean energy future. It’s an exciting time for nuclear.”