Darlington Unit 3 in Clarington nearing re-start with refurbishment ahead of schedule

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Published May 25, 2023 at 10:52 am

The refurbishment of Darlington nuclear’s Unit 3 is just steps away from a re-start – at least six months ahead of schedule – after the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission gave OPG the go-ahead to move ahead with “testing and verification.”

The commission removed the second of four regulatory hold points from Darlington Unit 3, with Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer Ramzi Jammal authorizing OPG to proceed, saying “all prerequisites established by the Commission have been met.”

Scott Luft, who has been writing about the electricity sector for more than a dozen years, noted that Unit 2 re-entered full operation within two months of the removal of the same hold point. “With Unit 4 scheduled to enter its mid-life refurbishment early in July, it looks like OPG may avoid a capacity drop this summer.”

The planned date for a return to service when the refurbishment began in July 2020 was the first quarter of 2024, “so OPG looks to be on the cusp of concluding the work well ahead of schedule,” he added.

A statement from the Nuclear Safety Commission said staff will continue to perform inspections to confirm that work getting Unit 3 back into service are completed safely and in accordance with the operating licence.

“OPG may now proceed with surrendering (the guaranteed shutdown state) to restart the refurbished reactor at low power for testing and verification,” Jammal said an email to OPG senior staff.

Dr. Chris Keefer, the President of the Canadians for Nuclear Energy advocacy group, said the expedited refurbishment at Darlington is good news for the local community, the nuclear industry in Canada and for OPG.

“Darlington Unit 3 is looking like it will come back from refurbishment six months early. This is unprecedented in a time of failing megaproject delivery, particularly in the west,” he said. “OPG is proving itself to be not only a world class but a world leading organization.”

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