The $1.4-billion Point Lepreau nuclear refurbishment project is on track to meet its most recent target date of fall 2012, NB Power said in a statement.


The refurbishment of Point Lepreau, Atlantic Canada's only nuclear reactor, is three years behind its original schedule.

All 380 calandria tubes have now been removed from the reactor, a news release issued Thursday said.

The tubes — made to house smaller nuclear pressure tubes, which in turn contain radioactive nuclear fuel bundles — were the first major pieces of equipment to be installed in the reactor as part of Point Lepreau's refurbishment. But dozens of the tubes flunked air tightness tests after being fused with special inserts designed to hold them in place.

Eighty failures were detected during tests of the tubes, which are attached at both ends for 760 total seals.

AECL finally acknowledged the inserts weren't smooth enough to form a consistently tight seal and that polishing them would make them fit tighter.

The work should be done by the end of March, according to NB Power.

NB Power says Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. — the federal Crown corporation in charge of the refurbishment — is on track to meet its target date of May 2012.

Getting the plant back online afterwards is expected to take four months. The 2012 goal was announced last October after a series of delays.

The refurbishment of Atlantic Canada's only nuclear reactor is three years behind its original schedule. It was originally to be completed in September 2009.

It is estimated that NB Power spends $1 million a day to purchase replacement fuel for each day the nuclear reactor is delayed.