OPG awards BWXT contract for components for Darlington refurbishment

8 November 2021

Darlington nuclear generating station (Photo credit: OPG)Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and BWX Technologies on 4 November announced a contract for Fuelling Machine (FM) head engineering and component supply as part of refurbishment of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

The CAD50 million ($38.2 million) contract will be executed by BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada in Peterborough, Ontario, where a team of more than 250 employees, engineers, skilled trades and other specialised personnel will design and supply complex parts and assemblies to enable refurbishment of all eight FM heads at Darlington. Engineering work on this project began in 2020, with component supply occurring from 2022 to 2026.

After 30 years of operation Darlington is in the process of a planned midlife overhaul. The first of four units was shut down in 2016 and returned to service in 2020. A second unit is currently being refurbished, with the four-unit project slated for completion in 2026.

Beyond extending the life of the station by 30 or more years, Darlington Refurbishment is a boon to Ontario's economy. Approximately 96% of project costs are being spent in the province – like this project currently underway in Peterborough – drawing on Ontario's significant and skilled nuclear supply chain. More than 200 companies across Ontario are part of the refurbishment project and are helping to power the province's economy by creating jobs and delivering high quality parts and services.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Darlington Refurbishment and the station's subsequent operating life:

  • Provides an $89.9 billion boost to Ontario's economy;
  • Creates approximately 14,000 jobs annually for the life of the project, with five jobs created in the broader Ontario economy for each worker directly employed at Darlington Station; and
  • Increases Ontario's Gross Domestic Product (GDP): every $1 spent on the project increases GDP by $1.40, on average.

Fuelling Machine (FM) heads are part of the remote-controlled system that allows continuous on-power fuelling in CANDU reactors, like those found at Darlington.

"Ontario's nuclear supply chain is strong, allowing us to source much of what we need, both as we refurbish Darlington and also as we work toward small modular reactor deployment, right here at home," said Subo Sinnathamby, OPG's senior vice president, Refurbishment. "We know BWXT has the skilled workers and the same rigorous commitment to quality and safety we do at OPG, which is imperative as they provide key parts and knowledge to refurbish Darlington's fuel machine heads."

John MacQuarrie, president of BWXT's Nuclear Power Group added: "Our team in Peterborough produces innovative fuel handling systems for CANDU nuclear plants around the world and is committed to supplying engineering services and components of the highest quality."

Photo: Darlington nuclear generating station (Photo credit: OPG)

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