Small Modular Reactor project at Clarington’s Darlington Nuclear on time and on budget

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Published March 13, 2024 at 6:52 pm

Darlington SMR project

Darlington Nuclear is making a habit of getting work done as promised after announcing this week that early work on the small modular reactor megaproject at the Clarington nuclear plant is on time and on budget.

Darlington is also undergoing a complete refurbishment of its four reactors, with Unit 3 returning to service last August 169 days ahead of schedule. Unit 2 refurbishment is also complete and operating at full capacity and work on units 1 and 4 are underway, with the entire 10-year project more than 60 per cent complete and expected to be finished next year.

Site preparation work for the SMR project, led by E.S. Fox, wrapped up in February with completion of civil works including site grading, construction of temporary roads and construction laydown areas, installation of stormwater features and establishment of on-site utilities, including power, domestic and fire water, and IT infrastructure.

The site has now transitioned into the care of constructor partner Aecon to allow for the main site preparation work to begin.

“Early works for the first SMR in the G7 have been completed on time and on budget at OPG’s Darlington Nuclear site,” said Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith. “Big thanks to all the workers who helped deliver the first phase of this project, which will provide reliable, affordable and clean electricity for our province.”

Nuclear construction work is expected to begin in early 2025, pending regulatory approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The commission is looking at an environmental assessment right now (a decision is expected by the end of April) and a second regulatory hearing to review OPG’s application for the Unit 1 SMR ‘Licence to Construct’ is anticipated in October.

Some of the major work programs to be completed this year include:

  • Construction work for site establishment activities, including the shoring wall required for reactor building excavation.
  • Excavation for Unit 1 power block.
  • Clearing and grubbing and early works for Units 2, 3, and 4.

A single SMR delivers enough electricity to power 300,000 homes. The four SMR’s at Darlington will produce enough electricity to power 1.2 million homes and create thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds of local jobs during operations, Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster said during the ground-breaking ceremony last summer.

“It’s an investment that will drive economic growth and job creation in Clarington, now and into the future,” he said. “Today we sow seeds that will root our community at the centre of a global renaissance for the nuclear industry. Our highly skilled nuclear industry workers will supply products, services and expertise to a global SMR market.”

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