Ft. Calhoun Nuke Restart in Q1

Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 03:11 PM gHale

The 482-megawatt Fort Calhoun reactor in Nebraska will undergo one more delay until the first quarter after “discovering areas that need additional work,” a utility spokesman said.

Omaha Public Power District initially aimed to start the unit last September, then pushed the date back to December to improve backup diesel generator reliability and work on containment “internal structure issues,” according to a Sept. 13 presentation to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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Crews will now focus on more containment maintenance, Hanson said.

Fort Calhoun, closed for repairs since Missouri River flooding extended a refueling shutdown last year, will undergo an inspection by the NRC before receiving approval to resume operation.

Omaha Public Power officials will meet with the NRC to discuss repair plans.

“We’ve gotten the restart checklist and we’re looking to be able to heat up the plant in the first quarter of next year,” said utility spokesman Jeff Hanson. “Our goal had been December if there weren’t additional areas that needed work. We have areas that need work around the containment.”

The utility received a confirmatory action letter Nov. 13 detailing maintenance they must complete and review at Fort Calhoun before startup. This includes improving flood barriers, emergency diesel generator systems and equipment designs such as the containment structure, the letter said.

Omaha Public Power in August hired Exelon Corp. to manage Fort Calhoun’s day-to-day operations, Hanson said. The plant, 19 miles (31 kilometers) north of Omaha, is one of three nuclear reactors idled for an extended period because of mechanical trouble.

“They’re working their way through a long list of issues before they can restart,” said Victor Dricks, an NRC spokesman for the Western region. “There isn’t a plant with the same issues and they are unique.”

Duke Energy Corp.’s 838-megawatt Crystal River 3 in Florida shut down in October 2009 after officials found a crack in the containment wall. The company hasn’t decided whether to repair the reactor and said it may defer a decision until mid-2013.

Southern California Edison shut down its two-unit San Onofre site in January after detecting unusual wear on tubes that carry radioactive water. The California units have a combined capacity of about 2,150 megawatts. The company has spent $96 million on inspection and repair.

The NRC this week postponed a Nov. 16 meeting with Edison and did not provide a new date.

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