Ontario Power Generation (OPG) said on 3 September that work has begun on the refurbishment of the Candu reactor at unit 3 at the Darlington nuclear power plant.
Darlington 3 is the second four units undergoing refurbishment in order to enable the plant to continue operations until 2055. Work on Darlington 2 began in October 2016 and after more than a decade of planning and three years of work, it was reconnected to the grid in June amid the unexpected challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme, which is currently on time and on budget, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026.
OPG said it had reached a significant milestone with work now underway at unit 3, which was shutdown on 30 July.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OPG had postponed the start of the unit 3 refurbishment, which was planned to begin in May. With unit 3 now safely shut down and disconnected from Ontario’s electricity grid, workers will use remote-controlled tooling to remove 6240 fuel bundles from the unit over the next three months and place them in water-filled fuel bays for up to 10 years of safe storage, OPG said.
Since the start of the project, OPG workers have completed more than 24 million hours of work and have also completed more than 750,000 hours of training in the Mock-up and Training Facility located at the Darlington Energy Complex. OPG noted that the team has incorporated more than 4000 lessons learned from unit 2 refurbishment into the plans and preparations for unit 3 and subsequent unit refurbishments, increasing efficiencies across the project.
The 10-year refurbishment project is expected to generate nearly CAD90 billion ($69bn) in economic benefits for Ontario and increase employment by an average of 14,200 jobs annually across the province.
The four-unit Darlington station currently generates over 20% of Ontario’s electricity, or enough energy to power two million homes.