NRC using TVA’s mothballed Bellefonte facility for reactor training

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is using the mothballed Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Bellefonte nuclear facility in Hollywood, Ala., to teach basic reactor concepts, NRC said in a Dec. 17 blog post.

Instructors at the NRC’s Technical Training Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., realized a few years ago that the two-unit, never-completed Bellefonte plant, located just 65 miles away, would be a “perfect classroom,” NRC said.

Even though many of the major components were either taken out or cut apart and then sold by TVA, enough of the framework remains to allow students to get an extremely realistic idea of what a plant is like and how it works, NRC said.

TVA and the NRC signed a memorandum of understanding to allow the training to take place.

The Bellefonte site is being maintained and preserved in construction-deferred status after halting construction in 1988 in response to decreased power demand, according to a TVA webpage.

TVA had filed an application with NRC in 2007 for a combined construction and operating license (COL) to develop two reactors at the Bellefonte site. But depressed power demand and the rise of cheap natural gas again halted plans for new nuclear generation at Bellefonte.

Because Bellefonte never had a fuel load, even containment and the empty spent fuel pools are open for official visitors, NRC said in its blog.

Instructors Simpkins and Mark Speck, both former resident inspectors in Region II, regularly teach a five-day course at Bellefonte, called Practical Applications of Reactor Technology as well as a separate Site Tour of Bellefonte course. They expanded the curriculum last month when John Pelchat, Region II’s government liaison officer, approached them with the idea of a customized course for personnel from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

Alabama has several active commercial plants, operated by TVA and Southern (NYSE:SO), NRC noted.

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.