No Rain, Heat, Slow Nuke Plant

Monday, August 8, 2011 @ 02:08 PM gHale

Heat and no rain add up to slowing down the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant to 50% power.

Why? Fear of killing of fish.

The Huntsville, AL, plant this week reduced its power generation to 50 percent in all three reactors to remain in compliance with environmental mandates regarding temperature of the Tennessee River, TVA spokesman Ray Golden said.

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The permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management prohibits the Tennessee River’s temperature downstream from Browns Ferry from being higher than upstream when the water temperature is at or above 90 degrees because of the threat to fish and wildlife.

Golden said concerns about the river temperature began last Sunday, and Browns Ferry has been gearing down ever since, culminating with reducing Unit 3 to 50 percent power this past Wednesday.

TVA is also nearing the completion of an $80 million project at Browns Ferry to build a seventh cooling tower, which should discharge cooler water back into the river, Golden said. The tower is part of a $150 million project unveiled last year to improve the plant’s overall cooling system.

Despite the reduced power at Browns Ferry, Golden said customers “shouldn’t see any impact from it.” Browns Ferry is maintaining a 2,300 megawatt reserve.

But Golden said it is possible power bills could rise slightly to account for increasing power production at another plant that doesn’t generate power as cheaply as Browns Ferry does.

Golden said cutting all three units to 50 percent should keep the plant in environmental compliance, but cooler temperatures would help.

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