6 Sep 2016

TVA returns Watts Bar 1 nuclear reactor to service after fire, Unit 2 offline indefinitely

Written by Jim Pierobon

The Tennessee Valley Authority is returning its Watts Bar Unit 1 reactor to full power operations after a transformer fire August 30 at its new Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor compelled management to also shut Unit 1 down during a plant-wide damage assessment, a TVA spokesman said.

The cooling towers for TVA's Watts Bar Units 1 and 2 near Spring City, Tenn. CREDIT: TVA's web team, via Wikimedia Commons

The cooling towers for TVA’s Watts Bar Units 1 and 2 near Spring City, Tenn. CREDIT: TVA’s web team, via Wikimedia Commons

TVA spokesman Jim Hopson told The Energy Fix that management began returning Unit 1 to service Saturday.

“It’s systems were unaffected by the transformer fire but we needed to completely de-energize the switchyard in order to safely complete some of the assessment of the damage,” Hopson wrote in an email.

Hopson said Unit 2, which after numerous delays was set to achieve full operations this summer, will remain offline pending the restoration of “full switchyard” service. TVA reportedly was operating Unit 2 at about 99 percent of its rated power when the fire broke out.

“We do not currently have specific time for restoring the unit to operation to continue its power ascension testing,” Hopson said. “Our focus is on ensuring that switchyard work is preformed safely and all equipment is operating reliably before bringing Unit 2 back online.”

The Unit 2 reactor is the first new reactor to be built and completed in more than 20 years. It began limited power operations in May.

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