Wednesday, August 1, 2007

TVA Considers Opening Nuclear Reactor


Tennessee Valley Authority is reviewing plans today to build the Watts Bar 2 Nuclear Reactor on the Tennessee River between Chattanooga and Knoxville which, if approved, would be the first new nuclear reactor license in 11 years. This comes on the heels of six years of pressure by the Bush administration and the Nuclear Industry Lobby to press for new nuclear reactors as the solution to energy demands.

The only reason there have not been any new nuclear reactors in the past eleven years is because of a generation of public pressure. Nuclear power is incredibly expensive and leaves waste that no communities want to deal with, that remains radioactive for thousands of years.

If this reactor is approved it will be the first of a tidal wave of new reactor applications being submitted. The Nuclear Industry is using every PR tool at their disposal to push for their reactors, which they stand to profit from in the billions, while leaving communities to deal with the environmental disasters these plants represent.

TVA Reviews Watts Bar 2 Plans

NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - A Tennessee Valley Authority Committee will report to the board during a public meeting Wednesday on its findings on finishing the construction of Unit 2 at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant in Tennessee.

TVA has not disclosed the details of the report, a spokesman for the public power company said Tuesday.

The board, which has not yet decided whether to complete the unit's construction which was halted in 1988, asked the staff to study the completion and startup of the unit.

Earlier this year, TVA completed an extensive $1.8 billion overhaul of 1,155-megawatt Unit 1 at the Browns Ferry nuclear station in Alabama, which the company shut in 1985 to address management and operational issues. The board approved the restart of Browns Ferry 1 in 2002.

Unlike Browns Ferry 1, Watts Bar 2 never operated. TVA said it suspended construction of Watt Bar 2 because of a reduction in the predicted growth of power demand.

Watts Bar 2 was about 80 percent complete when the construction stopped. It is now about 60 percent complete since TVA used some of the unit's equipment on other reactors.

Power traders said Watts Bar 2 would likely have a power capacity similar to the 1,121 MW Unit 1 at Watts Bar. TVA started working on the Watts Bar nuclear station in 1973. Unit 1 entered service in 1996, making it the last civilian reactor to enter service in the United States.

One megawatt powers about 700 homes in Tennessee.

TVA has said in a preliminary estimate that it would cost about $2 billion to $3 billion to complete Watts Bar 2.

Energy experts have said that TVA could likely complete Watts Bar 2 in about six years -- sooner than it could build a new reactor from scratch and at a lower cost.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry's lobby group, has estimated it would take about nine years to develop, permit and build a new reactor.

Separately, the TVA Board will also consider authorizing the purchase of a natural gas-fired combined cycle generating facility during its Wednesday meeting, among other things.

A spokesman for TVA said the company had not disclosed what plant the company was seeking to buy.

The 1,549 MW Watts Bar station is located near Spring City in Rhea County, about 60 miles southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee. There are numerous units at the station including four 56 MW coal Units 1-4, five hydropower units ranging from 33 MW to 36 MW, and the 1,121 MW Unit 1 nuclear reactor.

The coal and hydro units entered service between 1942 and 1945, while the nuclear unit entered service in 1996.

TVA, of Knoxville, Tennessee, owns and operates more than 31,000 MW of generating capacity, sells electricity to local distribution companies serving 8.7 million consumers in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia, and markets surplus power to energy companies in neighboring grids.

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