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R. Oberth, OCNI: A fast decision on Nuclearelectrica’s U3-U4 might reduce costs


“I think that the discussions and the planning should start now and looking for various investment models”, said Ron Oberth, president and CEO of the Organization for Canadian Nuclear Industries – OCNI, in a conversation about the Romanian-Canadian collaboration in the nuclear field, at EnergynomicsTalks.

Ron Oberth believes that the actual works for the new reactors in Cernavoda might start by mid-20is, and he linked this project to another of Nuclearelectrica’s, also scheduled to develop during December 2026 – December 2028. “I think there is an opportunity for some synergy between the life extension of U1 at Cernavod? and the procurement of reactor components for Cernavod? Unit 3 or even 4 – for example the pressure tubes could be ordered in one combined amount. So, with a smart approach of these projects, there may be ways to place larger orders and get some economies of scale in terms of the supply of critical equipment for the core of those units”, he explained.

Partners for more than 50 years

Canadian companies have been working in Romania for more than 50 years dating back to the early construction of CANDU reactors at the Cernavod? Site and later the completion and commissioning of Cernavod? Unit 1 in 1996 and the completion and commissioning of Cernavod? Unit 2 in 2007. Canadian companies were also involved in supporting the construction and operation of the Heavy Water Plant near Drobeta-Turnu Severin, and the CANDU fuel fabrication plant at FCN Pitesti. These facilities have enabled Romania to become self-sufficient in all aspects to Canada nuclear plant operations. Canadian companies have also provided licensing and operations support to Cernavod? Units 1 and 2 since start-up.

In October 2019 OCNI led a trade mission of 19 Canadian-based nuclear equipment and service providers to Romania for meetings and site visits to build partnerships supporting the refurbishment of Cernavod? Unit 1 and the potential completion of Cernavod? units 3&4. The 30 trade mission delegates met with Romanian nuclear suppliers who are members of the nuclear supply chain organization ROMATOM with whom OCNI renewed its collaboration MOU in October 2018.

Exciting new areas of collaboration

Ron Oberth mentioned the production of Cobalt 60 at the Cernavod? NPP as “an exciting new area of collaboration”. The Canadian company Nordion (Canada) Inc. concluded an MOU with Nuclearelectrica in October 2019 to evaluate the potential commercial production of Cobalt 60 at CNPP. Cobalt 60 is used to sterilize single-use medical devices, reduce pathogens in food and treat certain forms of cancer. This cobalt production will generate an additional revenue stream for Nuclearelectrica and will demonstrate that nuclear power, beyond producing clean energy to mitigate climate change, can also contribute to human health by supplying live-saving nuclear isotopes like cobalt 60. Two CANDU nuclear plant operators in Canada, Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation, are also producing now and in the future a special high specific activity Cobalt 60 that can be used in cancer therapy. This is another exciting future opportunity for the Romanian nuclear industry.

Improved nuclear plant inspection and maintenance

Talking about how did the CANDU technology evolved during the last decades, Ron Oberth said that CANDU technology has continuously evolved over the years through improved nuclear plant inspection and maintenance tooling and systems. Equipment diagnostic systems have enabled plant operators to better plan equipment maintenance such that plant outage cycles can be extended and forced shutdowns minimized. These new CANDU technologies combined with the strong capabilities across the Romanian nuclear industry have enabled Cernavod? Units 2 and 1 to achieve first and third place world ranking in lifetime capacity factors among more than 400 operating NPP’s worldwide.

Ron Oberth also mentioned some of the Canadian companies ready to develop partnerships on the Romanian market. One of them is Canadian Nuclear Partners SA (CNPSA), which was created by Ontario Power Generation – OPG to pursue work in Romania related to the Cernavod? refurbishment project, and to obtain the necessary nuclear certifications and registrations needed to compete in the Romanian market.

Proven solutions can lower the risks

Back in 2018, it became clear to both Nuclearelectrica and OPG that the planned 2027 refurbishment of Unit 1 was scheduled to coincide with the completion of the Darlington refurbishment project. The availability of a fully functional refurbishment planning and oversight group paired with the project execution and training teams brimming with recent experience and OPEX from each of the Darlington units was seen as a perfect opportunity for the utilities to work together. This trend of operators or owners becoming more involved in the nuclear services industry can only strengthen the resulting products, and with projects that are as challenging as CANDU refurbishments it is an ideal way to offer a proven solutions that can lower project risk. “Now, for the first time, a CANDU 6 owner can select a service provider that has already executed a refurbishment on its own reactors”, highlighted Ron Oberth.

OCNI is a non-profit organization with a membership of more than 230 companies that supply goods and services to the Canadian and global nuclear industries. OCNl’s vision is to lead and strengthen a thriving Canadian nuclear supply chain by driving innovation quality, and cost competitiveness. OCNI also enables its member companies to work in global nuclear markets.