Point Lepreau Reactor Gets Federal OK to Restart After Four-Year Refurbishment

Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on Tuesday approved restart activities at New Brunswick Power Nuclear’s (NBPN’s) Point Lepreau Generating Station, a 680-MW Candu 6 on the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy that has been offline for more than four years for a major refurbishment.

The federal safety body said that plant owners would not produce electricity but would restart the reactor in order to perform several safety tests under the oversight of regulators. NBPN needs approval from the CNSC to increase power above 0.1% of full power and above 35% of full power.

The approval follows a number of inspections and reviews to confirm safety conditions were met and safety tests were completed successfully.

The 1983-built Lepreau reactor—like other Candu reactors—was designed to undergo refurbishment after about 25 years of operation to extend reactor life by up to 30 years.

The C$1.4 billion refurbishment, awarded to AECL, included replacement of all 380 fuel channels, calandria tubes, and feeder tubes. It was scheduled to be completed within 18 months. Operations were delayed, however, by several technical glitches and incidents, including the sinking of two 115-metric ton turbine rotors while they were being transported by barge from Saint John.

Point Lepreau provides between 25% and 30% of New Brunswick’s power, and the province has asked the federal government for help to cope with the unexpected cost of purchased power as a result of the delays.

Sources: POWERnews, CNSC, NBPN

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