TVA to manage Watts Bar 2 project

20 October 2011

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is to assume management oversight for the project to complete unit 2 at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant from contractor Bechtel.


Watts Bar (TVA)
Watts Bar (Image: TVA)
TVA selected Bechtel to lead engineering, procurement and construction work to complete the second unit at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant in October 2007. Bechtel's contract, valued in reports at $1 billion, is included in the scope of the five-year, $2.49 billion project to finish the incomplete pressurized water reactor (PWR), as approved by TVA in August 2007.


In August 2011, TVA said it was reviewing the construction and licensing schedule for the 86%-complete unit, but chief operating officer Bill McCollum said that the company would not meet its "aggressive" 60-month timetable for completing the reactor. A licensing delay related to an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearing on an aquatic issue, plus the need to integrate safety modifications following the Fukushima accident in Japan, will also impact on the schedule, said TVA. Watts Bar 2 had been scheduled to enter into commercial production in 2012, but this is now expected to be in 2013.


TVA also said that it was working with construction contractors to develop a detailed timetable for completion of the plant and to assess the impact on costs, although a more accurate assessment of costs would be made when the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues a final report on Fukushima-related changes.


TVA has now announced that part of its efforts to "improve work performance" at Watts Bar 2 includes "changes to the contract with the projects prime contractor, Bechtel Power Corporation."


"As we announced this past summer, the pace of construction at Watts Bar unit 2 has been slower than originally planned for the aggressive five-year project," said Mike Skaggs, TVA's senior vice president of nuclear generation development and construction. "Therefore, TVA has been evaluating the best path forward to efficiently complete the project with a primary focus on safety, quality and cost. The company is taking a deliberate approach in the review and development of the overall construction and licensing schedule."


TVA noted, "As that review is performed, the number of temporary construction workers on the project is being reduced. About 600 craft workers and 200 support staff, most employed by Bechtel or Day & Zimmermann, will be reduced in force in the near future."


According to TVA, "Having fewer workers on the project will help TVA and contract partners better manage the work to complete the construction, start-up testing and transition to commercial operation while controlling costs."


TVA started construction of Watts Bar units 1 and 2 - both 1270 MWe Westinghouse-designed PWRs - 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.


TVA's board decided in August that the company will complete construction of another partially-built reactor, Bellefonte unit 1. The unit is a Babcock & Wilcox PWR currently considered to be 55% complete. A $4.9 billion project should see it begin operation by 2020 to generate 1260 MWe. TVA has said that actual construction work on Bellefonte 1 will not start until fuel has been loaded at Watts Bar 2. The company plans to sell the Watts Bar 2 reactor to help finance the Bellefonte 1 project, although it will continue to control, maintain and operate the plant.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News