Watts Bar 2 gets licensing nod from NRC committee

16 February 2015

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has reached a "critical regulatory step" towards the start up of the USA's first new nuclear power reactor in 20 years.

An independent body within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has recommended proceeding with the licensing process for Watts Bar Unit 2, near Spring City, Tennessee. Its recommendation is part of the information NRC commissioners will consider when making a final decision on issuing an operating license for the reactor.

In a letter to the NRC chairman, the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards noted that "there is reasonable assurance" that a second unit can operate at the Watts Bar plant "without undue risk to the health and safety of the public".

Joe Grime, TVA's chief nuclear officer, said in a statement on 13 February that the committee's conclusion on TVA's preparedness and ability to operate a dual-unit station is the result of six years of discussions, interactions and meetings through which TVA has demonstrated that unit 2 "is being completed the right way - safely, with quality, and in a manner to protect the general public."

The unit is about 95% complete and remains on target to begin commercial operations between September 2015 and June 2016 at a total cost of between $4.0 billion to $4.5 billion. When online, it will produce 1150 megawatts of carbon-free electricity - enough to meet the needs of 650,000 homes, TVA said.

Work on Watts Bar 2 was suspended in 1985 when the unit was about 55% completed, 12 years after construction began. TVA decided in 2007 to resume the project, initially estimating a cost of $2.5 billion and a completion date of 2012. TVA revised both the cost and the completion date in April 2012.

TVA , which currently has six operational nuclear units, has nine million customers in parts of seven southeastern states.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News