MA, PA Nukes Start Back Up

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 @ 01:05 PM gHale

The spring season means quite a few things, but one is nuclear plants going down for maintenance and refueling, so just over a month after reactors in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania shut down, they are back up and running.

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station returned to full power Tuesday after crews completed a $70 million refueling and maintenance project that kept the Plymouth, MA-based plant off line for more than a month.

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Entergy Corp., the Louisiana company that operates the 680-megawatt plant, said the work included the replacement, repair and inspection of hundreds of pieces of equipment “that make the plant safer today than when it was built.” The effort involved nearly 2,000 employees, including 1,184 extra contract workers, and included some upgrades implemented in response to the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s ā€ˇFukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

The process of gradually restarting plant halted Friday morning when crews found an issue with a condenser, which converts steam from the turbine into water, while starting up the turbine generator.

Lauren Burm, a spokeswoman for the plant operator, said at the time that the plant was “stable and safe” but that operators had decided to shut the plant down manually rather than continue starting it up.

The plant initially shut down in April and remained off line for 35 days.

Meanwhile, Unit 2 at PPL Corporation’s Susquehanna nuclear plant in Luzerne County, PA, resumed generating electricity for the power grid Monday after completing its scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

Susquehanna’s workers replaced 40 percent of the unit’s uranium fuel, and performed maintenance and ongoing upgrades. The Susquehanna plant’s two generating units have planned refueling and maintenance outages every 24 months.

“We made significant investments to further improve the safety and long-term reliability of Unit 2,” said Timothy S. Rausch, senior vice president and Chief Nuclear Officer for PPL Susquehanna. “This included installation of more than 200 new turbine blades and replacement of a 24-ton pump and motor that circulates water through the plant’s reactor.” In addition to Susquehanna’s engineering, technical and maintenance professionals, more than 1,000 supplemental workers supported the endeavor.

The turbine modifications address blade cracking issues the plant experienced in the past. Similar modifications took place on Unit 1 last year. With modifications now complete on both units, the Susquehanna plant does not expect to require any additional special turbine maintenance outages related to this issue.

The plant completed construction of a new facility, as well as testing and integration of enhanced portable backup equipment that is part of the U.S. nuclear power industry’s response to the 2011 accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

“Susquehanna has invested more than $90 million in portable equipment and supplies that are housed in a steel-reinforced concrete building designed to survive catastrophic events,” Rausch said.

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