07/15/2011 05:33 EDT | Updated 09/14/2011 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant Refurbishment Nears Completion


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- SAINT JOHN, N.B. - The refurbishment of Atlantic Canada's only nuclear power plant —some three years behind schedule — has taken another step toward completion.

NB Power says all 380 calandria tubes have been successfully installed in the heart of the Point Lepreau reactor and tested.

The calandria tubes contain pressure tubes, which in turn, hold the uranium fuel bundles used to power the reactor.

An earlier effort to install the new tubes failed when tiny scratches caused by wire brushes raised concerns the joints might not be reliable for 25 years.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has run into numerous problems during the refurbishment, which is $1 billion over budget.

When the project started, the reactor was expected to be back in service in the fall of 2009.

NB Power says it now expects to have the power plant up and running by the fall of 2012.

Last month, the federal government announced a deal to sell AECL to Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Group (TSX:SNC).

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