After more than a decade of planning and three years of safe, quality work, unit 2 at Canada’s Darlington nuclear power plant has been reconnected to Ontario’s electricity grid.
The milestone followed completion of upgrades to provide 30 more years of operation, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) said.
“Unit 2 refurbishment is now complete,” said Dietmar Reiner, chief project officer and senior vice president, enterprise projects at OPG.
“As one team, OPG, with the dedicated support of our project partners, suppliers and contract workers, accomplished something truly incredible for the nuclear industry and the province.”
The success brings OPG one unit closer to delivering on its commitment to completing the four-unit Darlington Refurbishment Project on time and on budget.
Ken Hartwick, OPG’s president and CEO said: “I want to thank our refurbishment team, project partners, vendors and construction building trades workers for more than 24 million hours worked safely and for returning Darlington’s unit 2 reactor to the grid at a time of unprecedented circumstances. This world-class project performance demonstrates the team’s expertise and their commitment to completing the four-unit refurbishment safely, with quality and on budget by the end of 2026 as planned.”
Work on Darlington 2, the first of four reactors to be refurbished, began in October 2016. After defuelling the reactor, work began to dismantle and reassemble the reactor. This work was first practised at OPG’s Mock-up and Training Facility, where more than 750,000 hours of robust training were completed. This in-depth training enabled the team to try out complex tasks before performing them in the field, resulting in improved efficiencies, OPG said. The project’s success was also aided by innovative technology and precision tooling delivered by hundreds of Ontario manufacturers, it added.
“At the best of times, this would have been a daunting task,” said Reiner. “To have completed the final steps amid the challenges, distractions and restrictions related to COVID-19 is a true testament to the team of nuclear professionals who played a role in this project. Their commitment to the safe, quality completion of this job amidst a global situation unlike any we’ve ever experienced has not gone unnoticed.”
SNC-Lavalin, which was part of the Darlington 2 project team congratulated OPG on the achievement.
“Thousands of individuals and hundreds of vendors came together to collaborate and brought their best, showcasing Ontario’s nuclear advantage. The best practices and application of new tools will be a legacy for other life extensions to come,” said Sandy Taylor, president, nuclear at SNC-Lavalin.
SNC-Lavalin’s nuclear team and its CanAtom joint venture partner Aecon worked diligently for three-and-a-half-years to safely execute the refurbishment activities on the unit ahead of the revised schedule, added Bill Fox, executive vice-president, Nuclear at SNC-Lavalin.
Speaking during a webinar hosted by the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI) on 5 June Reiner noted that the success on unit 2 needs to turn to success on units on 3, 1 and 4. We need to make these better and show how we can continue the improvement model,” he said.
“We have to pave the way for a new nuclear development – that is the ultimate prize... We want to be constructing the next Darlington unit based on SMR technology and our desire is that the timing will follow right after the refurbishment.”
There are thousands of lessons learned from Darlington 2 and these will be implemented for future projects. Work is due to start at Darlington 3 later this year. Refurbishment of all four Darlington units is expected to be completed by 2026.
Photo: Canada’s Darlington Nuclear Power Station