After a switchyard fire earlier in the week prompted the new Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit to go offline, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has also temporarily taken Watts Bar 1 out of service, a spokesperson said Sept. 2.
Watts Bar Unit 1 was taken off-line temporarily beginning at 3:12 pm EDT on Thursday Sept. 1, “so workers can safely inspect de-energized equipment in its switchyard,” said TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson.
“Unit 1 equipment has operated as designed since a transformer fire occurred in the switchyard Tuesday night,” Hopson said. “TVA has made the conservative decision to thoroughly inspect adjacent equipment as a precautionary measure. Unit 1 will return to normal operation after the temporary down power.
The Aug. 30 oil fire in the switchyard has, at least briefly, slowed the full commercialization of the new Watts Bar 2 nuclear generator. Since it synched to the grid a few months ago, TVA has been testing the reactor at increasingly higher generation levels, which has hit about 99%.
TVA has not yet declared Watts Bar 2 in “commercial operation,” which is largely an accounting term, according to TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson. Units 1 and 2 are both pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and each has a generating capacity of more than 1,150 MW.
Early Sept. 2 Watts Bar 1 was listed at 10% power and Watts Bar 2 was listed at zero power, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reactor status update.