Despite NRC letter, TVA targeting Watts Bar 2 operation in June

Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has raised concerns about whether workers at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)’s Watts Bar nuclear complex feel comfortable raising safety issues, this situation evidently won’t hold up deployment of Unit 2.

TVA is currently targeting commercial operation of the second roughly 1,150-MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) at Watts Bar in June, a spokesperson told GenerationHub via email.

NRC said recently that it has issued a letter to TVA indicating that a “chilled work environment” exists within the operations staff at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant near Spring City, Tennessee.

“The letter is part of an ongoing process that includes actions TVA is taking to foster an environment in which every employee is encouraged to raise concerns without a fear of retaliation,” the TVA spokesperson, Jim Hopson said March 30.

“We take this situation very seriously,” Hopson said. “Our internal processes identified emerging issues with the work environment in the Watts Bar Operations department and the March 22 meeting provided us an opportunity to share with the NRC the actions we are taking to resolve this issue.  The safe operation of Watts Bar and all of our facilities is TVA’s overriding priority.  Employees must feel free to raise any concern that helps protect their own safety as well as the public we serve,” Hopson added.

“During the March 22 public meeting, the NRC noted that they have no indication that this issue has affected Watts Bar Unit 2 completion,” the TVA spokesperson said. “We are still targeting commercial operations by June 2016.”

TVA received an NRC operating license a few months ago and has already loaded fuel at Watts Bar 2.

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.