The first bundle of nuclear fuel has been loaded into the Cernavoda 2 reactor in Romania, paving the way for commercial operation this summer, AECL has said.

A consortium of AECL and Ansaldo Nuclear of Italy, with owner Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica (SNN), is managing the completion of the partial construction of the Cernavoda Unit 2 power plant, the second in a series of CANDU 6 plants that began construction in the early 1980s.

The manual loading of 4,560 fuel bundles, amounting to 100 tonnes of uranium, was completed over a 10-day period. The unit is expected to achieve criticality in April; first synchronisation and connection to the grid is expected shortly thereafter; and the plant scheduled to be in service late summer.

Ron Cullen, AECL’s vice-president of projects said: “While AECL’s prime focus is the completion of Cernavoda Unit 2, some initial work is being reviewed in readiness to participate in the completion of Units 3 and 4 as the Romanian government moves forward with its plans to complete the construction of these units.”

Units 3 and 4 were partially built in the 1980s but work on completion is now scheduled to begin late in 2008 with commissioning in 2013 at an estimated cost of €2.2 billion.

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