Watts Bar Unit 2 Over 90 Percent Complete, Key Milestones Ahead

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant’s Unit 2 reactor is more than 90 percent complete and moving through key testing to become the nation’s first new nuclear generation of the 21st century.

In the eighth quarterly report since TVA revised its Estimate to Complete the project, TVA said Monday that Watts Bar Unit 2 continues to meet safety and quality targets and remains on schedule and within budget to become the first U.S. reactor to generate “new” power in nearly two decades, and the first since Watts Bar Unit 1 in 1996.

Watts Bar Unit 2 is projected to begin commercial operation between September 2015 and June 2016, with a most likely date by December 2015. The project has a projected completion cost between $4 billion and $4.5 billion, with a most likely target of $4.2 billion.

Testing of individual and combined plant systems is under way, TVA said in the latest quarterly update, covering February to April 2014. The first major system test, called Open Vessel Testing, began ahead of schedule during the period and was completed earlier this summer. OVT involves pumping water into the reactor vessel through systems used when shutting down the reactor and in support of nuclear operations.

“These tests are critical as we move toward receiving approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to load fuel by our most likely date in June 2015, and to begin operation later that year,” said Mike Skaggs, TVA senior vice president for Watts Bar Operations and Construction.

“Most of the major construction work is concluding,” Mr. Skaggs added. “We are making systems, structures and components like new and are making sure they operate according to TVA, industry and technical standards. We have a lot of complex and challenging work still to go.”

Watts Bar will be the one of the first nuclear plants in the country to complete post-Fukushima safety upgrades required by the NRC. Enhancements include a new hardened FLEX equipment storage building designed to withstand earthquakes, floods and other incidents similar to what happened in Japan. The cement and steel structure houses emergency backup diesel generators, pumps and other equipment needed to keep the reactor containment cooled in the event that onsite power is lost.

“Our FLEX enhancements help demonstrate the level of commitment by TVA and the nuclear power industry to the safety of our workers and the public,” Mr. Skaggs said.

Safety performance also remains strong at the project, with workers achieving more than 27 million work hours without a lost-time incident through the reporting period.

Eighth quarter highlights included:

  • Activities were performed in a manner that resulted in a Quality Control acceptance rate of 97 percent.
  • Cost and schedule expectations were met.
  • No new risks were identified that currently affect project completion.

Challenges to the project include regulatory issues, continuing to protect the safe and reliable operation of Unit 1 while finishing Unit 2, emergent work identified during testing, and ensuring the site’s readiness for dual-unit operation.

About 3,100 workers are on the Watts Bar Unit 2 project, which will be TVA’s seventh nuclear unit. Watts Bar Unit 2 will add 1,100 megawatts of carbon-free electricity, providing enough energy for approximately 650,000 homes.

For a copy of the Quarterly Update to the Watts Bar 2 Estimate to Complete, go to http://www.tva.com/power/nuclear/wattsbar_unit2.htm.

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