Watts Bar Unit 2 Receives Fuel Handling License from the NRC
June 15, 2011
SPRING CITY, Tenn. The Tennessee Valley Authority has received a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to bring fuel to the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant for use in the Unit 2 reactor now under construction.
The license allows TVA to receive, inspect and store new nuclear fuel at the site for Unit 2, which is scheduled to come online next year.
“Receiving the license that permits delivery of new fuel is an important milestone for TVA,” said Dave Stinson, TVA vice president of Watts Bar Unit 2. “Having fuel ready to load into the new unit is critical as we approach the last year of construction.”
This license – one of many that are required for the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant – allows the plant to take possession of “special nuclear material,” which includes fuel for the plant.
“Nuclear fuel assemblies are shipped by truck to the site. They will be received and inspected by experienced plant personnel who do the same work for Unit 1 fuel deliveries,” Stinson said. “After passing inspection, the fuel assemblies will be stored in a new dry fuel vault or in the site’s spent fuel storage pool until Unit 2 is ready for fuel loading. Since new fuel assemblies have not been exposed to the high radiation field present in an operating reactor, they can be safely stored in a dry fuel vault.”
New fuel will begin arriving at the Watts Bar site in late June and continue through August. Loading fuel into Watts Bar Unit 2 is expected to begin next summer. A total of 193 fuel assemblies are used in the reactor. Most fuel assemblies are used for three, 18-month operating cycles. About 30 percent to 40 percent of the assemblies are replaced during each refueling outage.
Typically, a fuel assembly for TVA’s Watts Bar or Sequoyah nuclear plants costs about $1.2 million and lasts about 4.5 years. The fuel assemblies for Unit 2 were manufactured by Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel in Columbia, S.C.
“Receiving this license from the NRC and the fuel assemblies for Unit 2 is a significant step in the Watts Bar 2 project,” Stinson said. “Adding more nuclear capacity to our generation portfolio will move TVA closer to our vision of leadership in the nuclear industry while providing more low-cost and clean energy for the region.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia – an area of 80,000 square miles with a population of 9 million. TVA operates 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired power plants, three nuclear plants and 11 natural gas-fired power facilities that can produce about 34,000 megawatts of electricity, delivered over 16,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. TVA also provides flood control, navigation, land management and recreation for the Tennessee River system and works with local utilities and state and local governments to promote economic development across the region. TVA, which makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money, is funded by sales of electricity to its customers. Electricity prices in TVA’s service territory are below the national average.
Terry Johnson, Chattanooga, (423) 751-6875
TVA Media Relations, Knoxville, (865) 632-6000