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OPG, SNC Lavalin complete three-year rebuild of Darlington nuclear Unit 2

Darlington Nuclear Generating Station

Ontario Power Generation has returned its CANDU Unit 2 reactor back into service after completing the first phase of a decade-long refurbishment project at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station along Lake Ontario.

The first part of the nearly $13 billion project was led by SNC Lavalin and competed by more than 2,300 people working over eight million hours. In the three years working on Unit 2, they replaced 480 fuel channels, installed more than 27 kilometers of pipe, made nearly 4,000 radiographic welds and 300,000 fasteners, nuts, bolts, screws and washers added.

“Congratulations to Ontario Power Generation and all your employees on the hard work that contributed to this important milestone that is the return to service of Darlington’s Unit 2,” said Sandy Taylor, President, Nuclear, SNC-Lavalin. “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.”

The Darlington refurbish is considered one of Canada’s biggest ever zero-carbon energy projects. The decade-long effort should extend the lifetime of the 4-unit nuclear station by another 30 years.

“A big thanks to SNC-Lavalin’s nuclear team and our CanAtom joint venture partner Aecon for completing and maintaining the high quality and standards for the retube and feeder replacement (RFR) of 480 fuel channels,” said Bill Fox, Executive Vice-President, Nuclear at SNC-Lavalin. “The team worked diligently for three-and-a-half-years to safely execute the refurbishment activities on the unit ahead of the revised schedule.”

Quebec-based construction firm SNC Lavalin has been involved with Ontario Power Generation utility and the Darlington project over a number of years. Earlier in 2020, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, Candu Energy, was awarded two, five-year vendor of record contracts by OPG. The first is for machine shop services while the second covers nuclear safety analysis at the utility’s plants including Darlington, Pickering and the Western Waste Management Facility adjacent to Bruce Power.

Darlington Nuclear Power Station (pictured) is a 3.5-GW facility with four CANDU reactors and located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The four units were commissioned from 1990 to 1993, with Unit 2 completed first.

The refurbishment work on Unit 3 begins this year, according to reports. Ontario Power Generation hopes to complete Unit 3 in 2023, Unit 1 in 2024 and Unit 4 in 2026.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).

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