Atucha 2 nearing startup

02 June 2014

Argentina's newest nuclear power reactor, Atucha 2, is expected to reach criticality and be connected to the grid within sixty days.

Atucha 2 commissioning 460 (Ministry of Planning)
Planning minister Julio de Vido launches the final commissioning of Atucha 2

The issuance of a licence by the Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear allowing nuclear operations to begin at the unit was announced in a video conference by Argentinian president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and minister of planning Julio de Vido. De Vido ceremonially launched the process to fill the 745 MWe pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) with borated heavy water. The neutron-absorbing boron will be gradually extracted from the heavy water until a controlled nuclear chain reaction occurs and the reactor reaches its first criticality. Grid connection is expected to follow soon after.

The program to build Atucha 2, originally a Siemens-designed PHWR, was suspended in 1994 after 13 years of construction work. The project was revived after a 2006 government decision to complete the plant as part of a $3.5 billion strategic plan for the country's nuclear power sector, and the reactor design is unique to Argentina.

Fuel loading began in December 2012, with owner and operator Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA carrying out commissioning tests through 2013.

Atucha 2 is Argentina's third nuclear power plant, joining the 335 MWe Atucha 1 PHWR, which has been in operation since 1974, and the 660 MWe Embalse PHWR, operating since 1983. Construction began earlier this year on CAREM-25, a prototype of a domestically-designed and developed 25 MWe small pressurized water reactor, on a site adjacent to the Atucha plant.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News