By - Michael Drost

TVA nearly finished with Watts Bar 2

Energize Weekly, August 19, 2015

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) asked federal regulators last week to issue an operating license for its Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor, saying the facility is “substantially complete.” Once operational, the unit will become the first new nuclear reactor to be turned on in the U.S. in almost 20 years.

TVA officials also said early last week that they had finished a key “hot functional” test of 60 essential reactor systems at operating temperature and pressure. After the completion of some final testing, TVA says the reactor will be ready to receive nuclear fuel for power generation. In order to receive a license, TVA must demonstrate to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that construction of the reactor is substantially complete, can operate according to the license and will have no adverse impact on public health.

“Completion of hot functional testing and submittal of the substantially complete notification are among the historic milestones that continue to be achieved at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant as Unit 2 is completed and tested the right way safely, with quality and in a manner to ensure regulatory compliance and excellence in operations after licensing,” Mike Skaggs, senior vice president of Watts Bar Operations and Construction, said in a statement.

In a letter requesting the license, TVA provided the NRC with a list of the remaining key activities it needs to finish prior to the start of operations at Watts Bar 2, along with supporting information including the programs and processes implemented to ensure completion in accordance with the plant’s design and licensing basis, details on the equipment refurbishment and qualification programs to ensure safety and quality-related structures, systems, and components meet design certificates, and that the reactors quality assurance program continue to meet regulatory requirements.

TVA began construction on Watts Bar in 1973, however work on the reactor started and stopped several times. Work was stopped in 1985 when the reactor was 55 percent complete, then restarted in 2007, while the NRC and state agencies revised regulations in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. TVA also revised the reactor’s work schedule and budget to $4.2 billion in 2012 in order to complete the reactor by the end of 2015.

Once online, the Watts Bar 2 reactor will produce 1,150 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 650,000 homes. The reactor is scheduled to begin producing power by June, 2016.

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