New US reactor to take delivery of fuel

21 June 2011

Westinghouse will soon begin shipping fuel to unit 2 of Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) Watts Bar nuclear power plant. The reactor, due to begin operating in 2013, will be the first new US unit to start up since 1996.


Watts Bar (TVA)
Watts Bar (Image: TVA)
TVA started construction of Watts Bar units 1 and 2 - both 1270 MWe Westinghouse-designed pressurized water reactors - in the mid-1970s. The company suspended construction of both units in 1985, citing a projected decrease in electricity demand. However, construction on unit 1 resumed in 1990 and the unit has now been operating for over ten years. Watts Bar 2 was some 80% complete when construction work was suspended and in August 2007 TVA's board of directors approved a five-year, $2.5 billion project to finish it.


Westinghouse announced that it will ship fuel assemblies for the Watts Bar 2 reactor in late July and August. The fuel has been produced at its fuel fabrication facility in Columbia, South Carolina. Once received by TVA, the fuel will be stored in the fuel storage vault or used fuel pool areas common to both Watts Bar units 1 and 2.


The process of actually loading the fuel into Watts Bar 2 is scheduled to begin in 2012, with the unit expected to begin commercial operation in 2013. Unit 2 will be the first new reactor to achieve commercial operations in the USA since Watts Bar 1 started up in 1996.


TVA was issued a fuel handling licence on 15 June by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This licence authorizes the company to receive, possess, inspect and store 193 assemblies containing uranium enriched up to 5%. However, the licence does not authorize TVA to use the fuel in a reactor. The NRC is currently reviewing TVA’s application for an operating licence for Watts Bar 2. It expects to complete that review next year.


Dave Stinson, TVA vice president of Watts Bar Unit 2, commented: "Having fuel ready to load into the new unit is critical as we approach the last year of construction."


"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," he added.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News