5 August 2010 – Argentina’s Embalse nuclear power plant is to get a refit to extend its life by another 25 years as well as a brand new full-scope simulator.
The country is also talking to China about a new reactor at the plant, according to World Nuclear News.
The 600 MW Embalse Candu pressurized heavy-water reactor (PHWR) was built by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd in the early 1980s as Argentina’s second nuclear power plant. Atucha was the country’s first, with a 335 MWe Siemens-supplied PHWR. A second Siemens unit that began construction at Atucha in 1981 is finally nearing completion and slated to begin operation next year.
After about 30 years Candu reactors require a refit of the many pressure tubes that hold nuclear fuel bundles and carry heavy water coolant through the larger calandria vessel. After changing around 380 tubes, the reactors should be able to safely operate for another 25 years. The first such refurbishment is underway at Point Lepreau in Canada, while similar work has taken place at Bruce to bring laid-up reactors back into service.
Loans from the CAF development bank to support the refurbishment project were signed off in Buenos Aires by Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, CAF head Enrique Garcia and minister of economy and public finance Amado Boudou. Some $240m will go towards refurbishing the plant, owned by Nucleoelétrica Argentina SA (NA-SA).
Another aspect of the service extension project is a new full-scope simulator to be supplied by L-3 MAPPS. This was announced on 3 August, just four days after the CAF loans, with work said to be starting immediately. The simulator should go into service in 2012 featuring full replicas of control room panels.