Darlington refurbishment and new SMRs will serve as ‘catalyst’ for net zero economy, Oshawa Council told


Published April 30, 2024 at 4:58 pm

Darlington Nuclear refurbishment

The Ontario Power Generation (OPG) team working on the build-out of small nuclear reactors at the Darlington nuclear plant have already moved in to the once-GM and future-OPG headquarters on Colonel Sam Drive in Oshawa, with the full-scale move happening next year.

Steve Gregoris, OPG’s Chief Nuclear Officer, was at Oshawa Council this week to give an update on the SMR build in Clarington and the refurbishment of the four reactors at Darlington, noting that the refurbishment will give the nuclear station another 35 years of life.

(Darlington #2 refurbishment was completed in 2022; Darlington #3 last year; Darlington #1 will come online early next year; and Darlington #4 sometime in 2026.)

The new life for the four reactors and the SMRs – which are nearly set for construction, with the 300-magawatt reactors set to be connected to the grid between 2034 and 2036, with the ‘license to operate’ likely awarded in 2028 – will serve as a “catalyst” for the net zero economy, Gregoris said.

Future home of the Darlington SMR project

The first hearing towards OPG being granted a ‘license to operate’ for the SMRs at Darlington took place in January, with a successful verdict being delivered by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

“It was a big win for us,” said Gregoris, who is currently working out of an office in Pickering in preparation for the move next year into the company’s new head office in Oshawa.

It’s been decades since the utility giant built any new nuclear (Bruce Nuclear, the largest nuclear facility in the country, has also received approval for new builds) but Gregoris is confident OPG will get the job done on time and on budget.

“We haven’t built new reactors in a very long time but we absolutely have the expertise to get this construction project done.”

OPG is the largest employer in Durham Region with 4,500 workers, with another 2,000 on their way when construction gets underway on the SMRs and the head office move to Oshawa is complete.

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