SNC-Lavalin wins Atucha contract

25 November 2016

SNC-Lavalin has been awarded a pre-project contract from Argentina's Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA for the Candu nuclear new build project at the Atucha site in the district of Zàrate. The Canadian engineering group said yesterday that, "if this project materialises, it would be the first Candu new build since Cernavoda Unit 2 came on line in 2007".

The six-month contract will allow SNC-Lavalin to engage with suppliers for long-lead equipment, conduct preliminary design work, deliver safety analysis, offer licensing support and provide technical assistance from Canada.

Argentina already owns and operates a Candu reactor at Embalse, about 650 km northwest of Buenos Aires. Construction of this reactor began in 1976 and it went into commercial operation in 1984. As well as supplying electricity, Embalse is also used to produce cobalt-60, a radioisotope used in medical and industrial applications. SNC-Lavalin is currently engaged in extending the operating period of the Embalse reactor.

Preston Swafford, chief nuclear officer at SNC-Lavalin said the Candu design's "track record of high performance will continue with this project in Argentina".

Candu reactors are "fuel-flexible", SNC-Lavalin said. They are capable of using natural uranium for fuel, as in Argentina, or advanced fuels like recycled uranium and thorium, as is being developed for use in countries such as China.

SNC-Lavalin describes itself as the "steward" of Canadian-designed Candu reactor technology.

Atucha is home to two of Argentina's three operating nuclear power plants, all pressurized heavy water reactors. With total generating capacity of 1627 MWe, the three units - Atucha 1 and 2 plus Embalse - provide about 10% of the country's electricity. A prototype domestically designed and developed 25 MWe small pressurized water reactor - CAREM - is under construction at a site adjacent to the Atucha plant.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News