OPG resumes planning for new nuclear at Darlington

Darlington nuclear power plant. Photo: OPG

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) recently announced the resumption of planning activities for future nuclear power generation at its Darlington site, with a goal of hosting a grid-size small modular reactor as soon as 2028. Originally, plans for the Darlington new nuclear project were focused on the construction of traditional large reactors.

Located in Clarington, Ontario, Darlington is the only site in Canada currently licensed for new nuclear. OPG was granted a license from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) in 2012 to allow site preparation activities for the project. The company has applied to renew the license, which is set to expire in August 2022. The CNSC will hold a public hearing on June 9–10, 2021, to consider the license renewal.

Early last month, OPG announced that it was working with three grid-scale SMR technology developers—GE Hitachi, Terrestrial Energy, and X-energy—to advance engineering and design work, with the goal of identifying options for future deployment.

Progress being made toward Mo-99 production at Darlington

Darlington nuclear generating station. Photo: OPG

Ontario Power Generation, its subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners, and BWXT ITG Canada and its affiliates announced on September 24 that the companies are making “significant progress” toward the production of molybdenum-99 at OPG’s Darlington nuclear power plant. Darlington will become the first commercial operating nuclear reactor to produce the medical radioisotope.

A precursor to technetium-99m, Mo-99 is used in more than 40 million procedures a year to detect cancers and diagnose various medical conditions.

Canada’s Darlington-3 refurbishment begins

Ontario’s Darlington nuclear power plant. Photo: OPG

The latest phase of the Darlington nuclear power plant’s refurbishment project began last week with the start of the defueling of Unit 3, according to Ontario Power Generation (OPG). Originally scheduled to begin in May this year, Unit 3’s refurbishment was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located in Clarington, Ontario, Canada, the Darlington plant houses four 878-MWe CANDU pressurized heavy-water reactors, all of which entered commercial operation in the early 1990s. The 10-year refurbishment project—which was 10 years in the planning—commenced in earnest in October 2016, when Unit 2 was taken off line (NN, Dec. 2016, pg. 45). The refurbished Unit 2 was returned to service in early June, and in late July Unit 3 was shut down and disconnected from the grid in preparation for its refurbishment.

Record-setting run for Darlington-1

Unit 1 of Canada’s four-unit Darlington nuclear power plant, located in Clarington, Ontario, set a North American record on July 9 with 895 consecutive days of operation, according to Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the plant’s owner and operator.

The previous record of 894 days was held by Pickering-7, also part of OPG’s nuclear fleet. The reactors at the Darlington and Pickering plants are CANDU pressurized heavy-water reactors. Darlington-1, an 878-MWe PHWR, has been on line since January 26, 2018.

Refurbished Darlington unit returns to service

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).