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Watts Bar 2 operating licence request goes out

17 августа 2015
Новости отрасли

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has requested that regulators issue an operating licence for unit 2 of the Watts Bar nuclear power plant.

The unit is to begin commercial operations between this September and next June at a total cost of between $4.0 billion to $4.5 billion. When online, it will produce 1150 MWe of carbon-free electricity — enough to meet the needs of 650,000 homes, TVA has said.

In a statement yesterday, TVA said it had informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that construction of the reactor is substantially complete and provided a list of the remaining key activities to be finished prior to the start of operations.

“For the NRC to issue an operating licence, TVA must show that construction is substantially complete, that the facility will operate according to the licence and that there is assurance the unit will have no adverse effect on public health and safety”, TVA said.

The letter provides supporting information that includes: programs and processes implemented to assure completion in accordance with the plant’s design and licensing basis; details on the equipment refurbishment and qualification programs to ensure that safety- and quality-related structures, systems and components meet design certifications; the quality assurance program, quality control reviews, assessments and inspections that ensure construction activities have and continue to meet regulatory requirements. The letter was dated 12 August and signed by Joe Shea, TVA vice president for nuclear licensing.

TVA said that hot functional testing — “a critical pre-operational requirement for NRC to issue a licence” — of the unit’s major systems to demonstrate operational readiness had been completed recently. The tests showed “nearly 60 important systems can function together at operational temperature and pressure as designed and built”, it added. Important safety-related systems were also tested, it said, to show they can help keep the reactor safely cooled.

“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 the company statement. “The successes are the result of hard work by everybody on the Watts Bar team and demonstrate our commitment to safely preparing Unit 2 for fuel load”.

The Watts Bar plant is located in Rhea County, in south-eastern Tennessee, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of Chattanooga. TVA owns and operates the facility, which has two Westinghouse-designed pressurized water reactors.

Work on Watts Bar 2 was suspended in 1985 when the unit was about 55% completed, 12 years after construction began. TVA decided in 2007 to resume the project. The unit was in deferred status, but TVA informed the NRC in August 2007 of its plan to reactivate and complete construction activities under the existing construction permit. Completion activities began two months later. TVA entered into an engineering, procurement and construction contract with Bechtel Power Company.

TVA is a corporate agency of the USA that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than nine million people in parts of seven south-eastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity.

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