Refurbished Darlington unit returns to service

June 4, 2020, 3:57PMNuclear News

A fish-eye view of the refurbished Darlington-2. Photo: Ontario Power Generation

Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) massive project to refurbish all of its Darlington nuclear power plant reactors has reached its first major milestone with the successful completion of Unit 2’s refurbishment and reconnection to Ontario’s electricity grid, the utility stated in a June 4 media release.

The Darlington plant, located in Clarington, Ontario, Canada, houses four 878-MWe PHWR CANDU reactors, all of which entered commercial operation in the early 1990s. The 10-year refurbishment project, which also was 10 years in the planning, began in earnest in October 2016, when Unit 2 was taken off line (NN, Dec. 2016, pg. 45).

What they’re saying: "This is a truly historic moment for Ontario,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG’s president and chief executive officer. “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 end of 2026 as planned.”

The unit’s refurbishment and reconnection was also hailed by the Ontario government. “Congratulations to OPG on this incredible milestone,” said Greg Rickford, the province’s minister of energy, northern development and mines, and the minister of indigenous affairs. “The Darlington nuclear refurbishment project is one of the world’s largest nuclear infrastructure projects, and the timely completion of the Unit 2 reactor showcases Ontario’s position as a global leader in nuclear generation. OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Station is a critical part of our electricity system, producing affordable, reliable, and GHG-emissions-free electricity to over two million homes each day.”

What’s next: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OPG postponed Unit 3’s refurbishment from its scheduled start in May of this year (with scheduled completion in the first quarter of 2024), allowing the unit to continue delivering electricity to the grid. Subject to the status of the pandemic, OPG is preparing to resume the hiring of skilled trades workers and begin “prerequisite activities” this month to safely start this next phase of the project, according to the release.

The Darlington-1 refurbishment is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2022 and be completed in the second quarter of 2025, while Darlington-4 is scheduled to begin refurbishment in the third quarter of 2023, with completion in the fourth quarter of 2026.

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