The Canadian nuclear regulator has given Ontario Power Generation (OPG) environmental approval for the refurbishment and continued operation of its four-unit Darlington nuclear power plant.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) concluded that the proposed refurbishment of the Darlington plant "is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account mitigation measures identified in the environmental assessment screening report." It can therefore proceed with its consideration of OPG's licence application for the proposed project.
Waste storage facility
The CNSC has renewed the operating licence of OPG's Darlington Waste Management Facility (DWMF) for a further ten years.
As well as renewing the facility's operating licence, the CNSC also authorized the construction and operation of two additional storage buildings.
The DWMF began operating in 2007 and provides storage for some 500 dry storage containers. New storage buildings will be built as additional storage space is required, about every five to seven years.
OPG submitted its environmental impact statement for the refurbishment project to the CNSC in December 2011. The company plans to carry out the Darlington refurbishment project in two phases. The first 'definition' phase involves planning for the removal and replacement of the 480 pressure tubes and calandria tubes, and 960 feeder pipes for each of Darlington's four Candu reactors. The second phase will involve the execution of the plan. The definition phase is expected to run from 2012 to 2016 with completion of the refurbishment scheduled for 2023. The refurbishment would enable the units to continue operating for a further 25-30 years, although this would be subject to separate licensing approvals.
The company said that the CNSC's decision enables it "to move ahead with a number of activities in support of Darlington refurbishment."
In March 2012, OPG awarded a contract - worth more than C$600 million ($589 million) - to SNC-Lavalin and Aecon to carry out the definition phase of the refurbishment project. Aecon will construct a full-scale reactor mock-up where key elements of the project can be simulated and tested prior to work beginning on the actual reactors. Meanwhile, SNC-Lavalin will develop specialized tooling required for the project. The two companies will also develop a detailed scope, schedule and budget for the execution phase, as well as procure components for the first reactor unit to be refurbished.
In addition to the refurbishment of the existing Darlington reactors, OPG is proposing to construct two new units at the site. A site preparation licence for those reactors was issued in August 2012, allowing pre-construction activities such as clearing, excavating and grading the land to begin. No vendor has yet been selected, but SNC Lavalin/Candu Energy Inc and Westinghouse are currently preparing detailed construction plans, schedules and cost estimates for their respective Enhanced Candu 6 and AP1000 reactor designs.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News