CAMBRIDGE — It’s the closest most people will ever come to standing inside the reactor vault of a nuclear power plant.
And a new facility at ATS Automation Tooling Systems in Cambridge certainly looks the part. With columns, platforms and infrastructure identical in size and scope to that found inside the real vaults at the Bruce Power plant near Kincardine, it’s pretty well got everything except for the radiation.
The replica will play a critical role in the multi-year, $13-billion project to refurbish six of eight reactors at the Bruce site. ATS is designing and supplying all of the remotely operated automated tools that will allow for hundreds of irradiated components like fuel channels and calandria tubes to be safely removed.
The new facility, unveiled Wednesday, will allow for those tools to be thoroughly tested, and workers trained in their use, before they’re installed in the actual vaults. There are about 27 different specialized tools that will be used in conjunction with each other, explained Eric Wallace, ATS’ vice-president, operations, energy and industry. “There’s no function that won’t be fully tested.”
Since December 2016, ATS has received contracts worth about $100 million for tooling systems and related services for the Bruce project. While the cost of the new Major Component Replacement Integration testing facility wasn’t disclosed, the company said it has added about 60 employees as a result.
Bruce Power chief executive officer Mike Rencheck said the 43,000-square-foot facility is representative of the technological innovation happening in Ontario, and praised the ATS team for its completion in less than a year.
“What a journey you’ve been on, and it’s a journey of excellence.”