Washington — Tennessee Valley Authority took the "precautionary step" of delaying planned outages at the Sequoyah-2 and Watts Bar-1 nuclear reactors this spring by two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said Wednesday. It is the first announced delay to a US outage.
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"For competitive reasons, we don't provide specifics on our outage dates," Hopson said, adding: "However, both of the outages were previously planned for this spring and will begin two weeks later than originally scheduled,"
A refueling outage for the 1,181-MW Sequoyah-2 reactor in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, was originally scheduled to start in late March while the Watts Bar-1 unit in Spring City, Tennessee, was set to begin an outage in the middle of April, according to a March 20 letter from the Nuclear Energy Institute to the US Department of Energy.
The average duration of refueling outages at US nuclear units in 2019 was 36.2 days, according to S&P Global Platts data.
"The delays allow us to get the necessary medical screening processes in place, as well as providing a measure of increased social distancing during the increasing outbreak," Hopson said, adding: "Nuclear refueling and maintenance outages create significant logistical challenges in terms of fuel loads and specialized personnel availability. As a result, our ability to reschedule them is limited."
Hopson said: "TVA and other nuclear utilities have plans in place to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of our nuclear generating units through this difficult time."
"Critical employees can be sequestered at the site for extended periods to maintain safe operations. Additional employees would be held in reserve to relieve the initial group, if necessary," he added.
Around 3,000 TVA employees work with TVA's nuclear fleet, as well as contract personnel, Hopson said. Several hundred support personnel staff TVA's nuclear operations functions in Chattanooga, he added.