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Darlington Refurbishment Project News

Training mock-up keeps Refurbishment on track

Tucked away in a small corner of a warehouse at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station sits the Powertrack mock-up. It might not be flashy, but its impact has become apparent as work begins to replace the system that assists in fuelling the reactors at Darlington Nuclear.

A worker trains on a Powertrack mock-up at the Darlington Energy Centre.
A worker trains on the Powertrack mock-up.

The fuel handling system at Darlington performs routine online fuelling operations using fuelling machines mounted on trolleys. The Powertrack provides a flexible avenue for power, control and signal cables to be connected to the trolleys from the central service area, explained OPG Project Manager Greg Maggs.

“The Powertrack is an integral part of Darlington’s fuel handling system,” he said.

As part of the Darlington Refurbishment project, three existing Powertracks will be refurbished to ensure the station’s fuel handling system continues to operate reliably.

Some key components that will be replaced during refurbishment include the Powertrack chain and the system’s support rollers, including shaft and wheels.

The Powertrack mock-up was designed to allow workers an opportunity to hone skills needed for the job in a non-nuclear environment before moving into the actual fuelling duct. After several weeks of training on the mock-up, workers with ES Fox, an Ontario-based fabricating company that has partnered in Darlington Refurbishment, moved into execution.

It’s a clear example of how work in nuclear is different from work elsewhere.

“In other jobs outside of OPG, we wouldn’t have this level of training, but here, we have to know we can do it in a precise manner, working in plastic suits in a radioactive environment,” said Derek Heyworth, an ES Fox millwright supervisor on the Powertrack project. “This work is similar to the work we would do elsewhere. But here, we’re conveying nuclear fuel. There is no margin for error.”

The Powertrack mock-up is one of several training facilities purpose-built for the Darlington Refurbishment. Also in use is a full-scale, reconfigurable replica reactor that ensures staff are thoroughly trained and tested in a safe, realistic and controlled environment, with all the obstacles, constraints and potential challenges they may face in the station.