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Refueling, maintenance tasks completed at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear Unit 1

The Tennessee Valley Authority is returning its Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 1 to full capacity after taking some time out for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage over the past month.

TVA crews completed the maintenance and refueling on Friday. The 24-year-old Unit 1 can generate up to 1,150 MW of carbon-free electricity and power 650,000 homes, according to the federal utility.

“Workers safely completed approximately 10,300 activities during the outage,” said Tony Williams, Watts Bar site vice president, in a statement. “Our employees take pride in working safely. Carefully following additional health precautions in place due to COVID-19 helped ensure we had a healthy workforce to safely refuel and restore Unit 1 to provide reliable, carbon-free energy to the people and businesses of the Tennessee Valley.”

In addition to replacing 92 of the unit’s 193 fuel assemblies, detailed inspections of the reactor vessel were conducted to confirm all components continue to meet or exceed all design requirements and perform their safety functions. Other major maintenance activities included replacing or refurbishing a number of motors, valves and other plant systems and components, as well as several modifications for improving safety.

Watts Barr Nuclear Plant is located and 1,700 acres on the northern end of the Chickamauga Reservoir near Spring City, in East Tennessee. Unit 2, which also has a 1,150-MW generating capacity, was completed and became operational in 2016 and is the most recently commissioned new reactor in the U.S.

TVA’s nuclear fleet produces approximately 40 percent of the carbon-electricity used in the Tennessee River Valley region. The fleet also includes Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama and two units at Sequoyah plant in Tennessee.