Point Lepreau heads for full power

05 November 2012

NB Power can now operate the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant at full capacity after receiving permission from the Canadian regulator. The reactor is in the final stages of commissioning after being refurbished.

Point Lepreau control room (CNSC)
Point Lepreau's control room (Image: CNSC)

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) gave approval in July for Point Lepreau to restart, but to operate at just 0.1% of its full capacity. In late August, the regulator allowed NB Power to increase output to 35%. The reactor was grid-synchonised on 23 October, supplying power for the first time since refurbishment began four years ago.

The CNSC has now decided that the utility can raise power above 35%. This, it noted, is "the last significant regulatory milestone before NB Power brings the reactor to full power and normal operation."

CNSC executive vice-president and chief regulatory operations officer Ramzi Jammal commented, "The refurbishment of the Point Lepreau generating station has allowed NB Power to modernize the facility to include additional safety features, which are now required by the CNSC at all nuclear power plants in Canada in response to the Fukushima accident."

NB Power said that the final commissioning steps include tests that involve raising and lowering reactor power, and connecting and disconnecting the generator from the grid.

The single-unit 680 MWe pressurized heavy-water plant, which began commercial operation in 1983, is the first Candu 6 to undergo full refurbishment. Work began in March 2008 and involved the replacement of all 380 fuel channels, calandria tubes and feeder tubes. This work was originally expected to be completed in 16 months, however the program was set back when problems with seal tightness necessitated the removal and replacement of all the calandria tubes for a second time.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News