Weekend problem forces TVA Watts Bar 1 offline

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Watts Bar 1 nuclear facility went offline unexpectedly on Saturday, Feb. 21, according to a report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

At about 10:30 a.m. the Watts Bar 1 reactor “was manually tripped due to rapidly dropping main condenser vacuum. Concurrent with the reactor trip the Auxiliary Feedwater system actuated as designed,” TVA said in an NRC event notification report.

“All Control and Shutdown rods fully inserted. All safety systems responded as designed. The unit is currently stable in Mode 3 … The Station is in a normal shutdown electrical alignment,” according to the report filed with NRC.

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Site Vice President Kevin Walsh described the incident in a Feb. 22 news release. “At 10:32 a.m. EST on Saturday, February 21, operators at TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 1 received indications of a potential issue with the unit’s condenser, which converts steam back to water after it has passed through the power generating turbines.  As a conservative action, they manually took the reactor off-line,” the TVA official said.

“The reactor is currently in a safe configuration as the Watts Bar team identifies and resolves the cause of the condenser issue,” added TVA’s Walsh.

Watts Bar 1, brought online in 1996, is a roughly 1,200 MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) in Spring City, Tenn,

The incident had no impact on the ongoing construction/testing work at the Watts Bar 2 nuclear facility that TVA officials hope to bring online by the end of this year.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.