Ft. Calhoun Restart Delayed, Again

Monday, August 27, 2012 @ 03:08 PM gHale

There is a delay in the plan to restart the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in Nebraska until later this year or early next, said Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) who hired a unit of Exelon Corp. to manage the 478-megawatt reactor, which has been down for 16 months.

OPPD plans to heat up the plant by Dec. 1, in anticipation of restarting the reactor at a later date after a number of inspections and other work, a spokesman said.

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An exact restart date remains subject to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval.

Meanwhile, OPPD inked a deal with Exelon Nuclear Partners to manage day-to-day operation of Fort Calhoun for the remainder of its operating license.

The agreement is the first such management contract for Exelon Nuclear Partners at a plant not partly owned by Exelon, a spokesman said.

In 2005, Exelon Nuclear Partners began working at Public Service Enterprise Group’s Salem and Hope Creek nuclear facilities.

In the two years it managed that site, Exelon’s team was able to reduce refueling time by more than a third and boost the station’s capacity factor, Exelon said.

Exelon Nuclear Partners has been assisting the Fort Calhoun recovery effort since January, OPPD said. Exelon’s Mike Prospero was named plant manager in February, three months after the NRC put the plant in a special inspection category after discovering several significant safety issues.

“While we have made significant progress in our recovery efforts, this operating agreement will help take Fort Calhoun Station to the next level,” said W. Gary Gates, OPPD president.

OPPD remains the owner and licensed operator of the plant.

About 10 Exelon Nuclear Partners managers will work at the site initially.

Fort Calhoun shut in early April 2011 for a monthlong refueling that extended when rising flood water from the Missouri River surrounded the site in early June.

An electrical breaker fire at the plant the following month raised additional safety issues and resulted in a “red” safety violation, the most serious classification used by the NRC.

After months of work to make repairs and inspect safety systems, the NRC issued restart guidelines in June which OPPD must complete before the station can produce power.

This is the third time OPPD delayed its timetable to restart the plant.

Fort Calhoun is now subject to an NRC monitoring program reserved for nuclear stations with significant performance issues and shut down for extended periods of time.

The plant cannot restart without NRC approval.

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