The ongoing major component replacement (MCR) project at Ontario’s Bruce nuclear power plant reached another milestone last Friday with the reconnection to the grid of the facility’s Unit 6 reactor. According to a release from plant operator Bruce Power, the work was completed ahead of schedule and on budget despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bruce-6 had been off line since January 2020, when the company took the 40-year-old, 817-MWe CANDU reactor out of service to commence the MCR project. Both the construction phase of the reactor’s MCR and its fuel load were completed in May. The unit achieved a sustained fission reaction in early August.
Scheduled for completion in 2033, the MCR project is focused on replacing key reactor components in Units 3–8, including steam generators, pressure tubes, calandria tubes, and feeder tubes. It is part of Bruce Power’s larger life-extension program, which began in 2016 and involves the gradual replacement of older systems in all eight of the facility’s units during regularly scheduled maintenance outages.
The MCR project is a privately funded investment that will extend the operational life of the Bruce site “through 2064 and beyond,” the utility stated in its release. Work on the second unit to be overhauled, Bruce-3, began in March. Several innovations realized from work on Unit 6 will be carried forward to improve performance and quality in subsequent MCR outages, Bruce said.
Official words: “We’re proud of our people and partners, all of our suppliers and unions—the Power Workers’ Union, Society of United Professionals, Building Trades, Canadian Union of Skilled Workers (CUSW), and United Steelworkers Union (USW) members,” declared Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power president and chief executive officer. “As one of the largest nuclear operators in the world, refurbishing our units is key to providing clean, reliable energy to the people of Ontario well into the future. We have shown strong performance, and we’ve committed to providing the lowest-cost nuclear energy in Ontario and to bettering our performance in each successive MCR outage.”
Todd Smith, Ontario’s energy minister, offered praise for the achievement, saying, “Bringing this refurbished unit back online ahead of schedule is a great example of how we’re powering Ontario’s growth. We’re already a world leader in clean energy generation and today’s good news only proves that we have the experts and the made-in-Ontario supply chain to meet increased electrification needs and power our economic growth.”