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TVA Restarts Browns Ferry Unit 1

From the TVA (release not yet online):
The Tennessee Valley Authority restarted Unit 1 at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in North Alabama today, completing one of the most extensive recovery efforts in the nuclear industry for an operating plant.

TVA received permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission May 15 to restart the reactor. TVA told the NRC on May 9 that it has the ability to operate and maintain all three units at Browns Ferry safely, that work to restart and operate Unit 1 is complete and that pre-start up testing was successful.

The restart completes the recovery effort within the five-year plan approved by the TVA Board in 2002, and at the projected cost of about $1.8 billion.

“Returning Browns Ferry Unit 1 to our nuclear fleet gives TVA another dependable, safe and emissions-free source of generation to help meet the growing demand for power in the Tennessee Valley,” said TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore. “The successful recovery of TVA’s third unit at Browns Ferry is a result of the commitment, determination and attention to detail of the people who did the work. I offer my sincere thanks and congratulations to all TVA employees and contractors who helped bring this important project to a successful conclusion.”

Operators began the deliberate, controlled process of restarting the reactor on Monday, May 21, and a self-sustaining nuclear reaction was achieved at 12:28 am CDT on Tuesday, May 22. Operators will gradually increase power in the reactor over the next several days and will test secondary plant systems to ensure they operate as designed.

TVA will continue to conduct tests on the reactor and the other plant systems during the next several weeks, including a series of brief connections to the power grid, followed by deliberate “automatic” trips, or shutdowns, to ensure that safety systems operate correctly.

Following these and other tests, the unit will be reconnected to the TVA power system for the final time. The tests are part of a program designed to bring the plant safely to power production. TVA conducted similar power-ascension tests during the successful restart and subsequent safe operation of Browns Ferry units 2 and 3.

“All three units at Browns Ferry are essentially alike now,” said TVA Acting Chief Nuclear Officer Preston Swafford. “We have new or refurbished equipment that is operated in the same manner on all three units, and our ongoing operations, maintenance, training and oversight programs can focus on sustaining high-quality performance to ensure the safe and reliable operation of Browns Ferry.”

TVA completed more than 4 million work hours preparing the engineering and design and more than 15 million work hours modifying, replacing, and refurbishing systems and components to ensure Browns Ferry Unit 1 can produce electricity safely and reliably to meet the growing need for power in the Tennessee Valley.

TVA installed modern digital instrumentation and controls, modern power supplies, replaced 200 miles of electrical cable and eight miles of pipe, replaced or refurbished the unit’s large pumps and motors and conducted more than 1,200 tests that showed Unit 1 meets the design and regulatory requirements for safe operation.

Browns Ferry is located on Wheeler Reservoir in Athens, Ala. All three units are capable of producing more than 1,155 megawatts of electricity each, enough for each unit to supply power to approximately 650,000 homes. TVA also operates two units at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in Soddy Daisy, Tenn. and one unit at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn.

TVA shut down all three Browns Ferry reactors in 1985 to address management and operational concerns. Browns Ferry units 2 and 3 were returned to service in 1991 and 1995, respectively. The recovery of Unit 1 used lessons learned from the restarts of units 2 and 3, and Unit 1 has the same upgrades and improvements made on the other two units.

In May 2002, the TVA Board approved returning Unit 1 to service, calling it the best business decision to meet the Tennessee Valley’s long-term power needs. The Board based its decision on improved nuclear performance, increased power demand in the Valley, a positive evaluation of the environmental impact, and a detailed scoping, estimating and planning effort for the Unit 1 restart.
Congratulations to everyone at TVA for a job well done. You've set a great example for the rest of the industry, and we're all proud of you.


gunter said…
Its like Chevolet putting the Corvair back on the road.

David Bradish said…
So what as long as it operates safely and efficiently.
Browns Ferry is old, huh?

Kinda like the coal burners from the 40s that would have been shut down 20 years ago if y'all hadn't been in the way?
Anonymous said…
I have to respectfully disagree with Paul, the Corvair analogy is incorrect. An old reconditioned typewriter works just as well as a modern keyboard, it's the use you put it to that counts. The overriding concern to mankind is avoiding global meltdown. It is anti-nuclear rhetoric that is obsolete and intellectually dishonest. Restarting Brown's Ferry and maybe someday completing Watts Bar U2, are steps in the right direction. Congratulations to TVA.

Bill Vidalin
Anonymous said…
Actually, the Corvair my folks used to own when I was growing up outlasted several of the other vehicles we owned, as well as some of the ones I've owned. My Dad kept it in good shape and up to date on maintenance, we operated the vehicle in a reasonable manner. Gave us good service, and given how long we had it, was quite the bargain. If BF1 does as well, we'll all benefit.
Anonymous said…
Love the pithy antinuke analogies, mainly because they always backfire or look silly upon further reflection. Gunter's analolgy is almost as meaningless as David Lochbaum's, although Lochbaum used the example of the eight track and i-pod. Gunter is also contradicting himself, as he always does.

Gunter's analogy is logically vapid. An automobile has a useful life of 5 or 7 years, tops. There have been many, many innovations in the automotive industry since the Chevy Corvair, meaning that an automobile from 1966 can be regarded as obsolete, other than as a work of art or a collector's item. Nuclear power plants last 60 years at a minimum, and there has been no technology introduced in the last thirty years that is superior to the light water reactor. A nuclear plant preserved for twenty years is not obsolete in the least, and is certainly superior anything else Gunter can name.
Anonymous said…
Well, they certainly last a lot longer than the PV array one of my Mom's neighbors put up. He had a windmill that ran for a few years until his neighbors filed a lawsuit and got it shut down because of the noise it made. His PV array lasted a little less than ten years, then a hurricane came up the coast and washed it away. Ironically, there is a nuke plant less than 15 miles away that has been running nonstop for over 30 years.
Don Kosloff said…
The Corvair never left the road.
kconrad said…
What better way to revive a sagging technology than to bring on-line the symbol of how an inherently dangerous technology can be crippled by the simplest of acts - a candle, who woulda thunk?
gunter said…
At least let's face some facts---just off the top of my head:

Browns Ferry 1 is a GE Mark I BWR.

In 1972, AEC disowned the design after it had licensed 25 or so of them for construction and operation. No more Mark I's were permitted federal construction licenses...

In 1975, the same year AEC is abolished for turning a blind eye on safety wile promoting unsafe nuclear activity, three top GE nuclear engineers publicly resigned their positions before Congress in testimony disclosing that the operating GE BWR designs are "not a quality product" and a dangerously substandard.

In 1985, Harold Denton, top senior manager/inspector for NRC's reactor safety oversight divison, disclosed that agency has no confidence in the Mark I pressure suppression system [the reactor's primary containment] with a 90% chance of failure under Design Basis Accident conditions.

In 1989, Boiling Water Reactor operators begin installation of the Direct Torus Vent System (DTVS) for the Mark I fleet- the control room now has option to deliberately vent containment during a radiological accident in order to save it---in other words, defeat the design's now admitted bogus containment concept /defeat defense-in-depth philosophy in order to keep from simultaneously rupturing the substandard containment and the ECCS make-up water reservoir.

2005, National Academy of Sciences finally discloses what we have been harping on for more than a decade about the vulnerability of the Mark I, Mark II and Mark III spent fuel pools where each unit elevates hundreds of tons of hot radioactive used fuel 6-10 stories up in the reactor building outside containment, making it vulnerable to attack... or heavy load drop...

2007, MA and NJ Office of Attorneys General file separate suits in 1st and 3rd Circuit Federal Appellate Courts over failure of NRC to provide hearings on the consequences of an aircraft attack on these roof top nuclear waste storage ponds.

2007, after TVA spends $1.8 billion to reconstitute the as-built design it brings Browns Ferry I back on line while not addressing the jalopy's substandard containment design and its vulnerable spent fuel storage feature.

Like I said, Browns Ferry is "unsafe at any speed" given its fuel pool is a sitting duck and its substandard containment.

I'll make a gentlemens' bet some of these respondents weren't even born when the Browns Ferry fire occurred in 1975?

But here's one for you---
What did Browns Ferry I do to come back into compliance with 10 CFR 50 Appendix R III.G.2 (the regulation that its very own fire promulgated) that the rest of the industry (including its contiguous Units 2 & 3) is still not in compliance with.

Or was Brown's Ferry restarted out of compliance with NRC fire protection regulations?

I'll let you know.

in the meantime, rave on,
Anonymous said…
So who would have thought that Paul was so passionate about Corvairs?

I don't feel qualified to comment on BWR containments having spent my professional life as a nuclear engineer at B&W and W units. But lets point out several qualitative things all of us can agree with. Since the inception of the civil nuclear industry, designs, regulation (including Appendix R), operation, economic performance and the like, have all undergone continuous improvement. From my perspective, these improvements have resulted in one of the best run and safest industries in the world. This evolution will continue, and the nuclear industry is expanding today due to increasing public acceptance, economics, environmental concerns, and the need for energy. Witness Browns Ferry 1, it embodies all of the above.

Paul, you don't like spent fuel at plant sites? Then join us in supporting Yucca Mt. Airplane attacks? I don't lose any sleep over something that has a low probability of occurrence, and a diminishingly small probability of success.

Also the three former GE engineers you mentioned. My memory is a little fuzzy, but they were all members of a rather strange religious cult from the Portola Valley, out here in California. Their credibility and judgment were highly questionable at the time. I was at Rancho Seco, so you lost your gentleman's bet with me.

Earlier I said anti-nuclear rhetoric was obsolete and intellectually dishonest. I've checked out the NIRS website and didn't notice a "hit counter". How about employing a quantitative measure of your relevance?


Bill Vidalin
Anonymous said…
You lose your bet with me too, Gunter. In 1975 I was just finishing up grad school. Ah, to be 26 again, young and idealistic. Where were you? Grade school? Not born yet?
gunter said…
Bill, wait a minute, I didnt claim to be the only senior citizen on this blogging on this subject...

No comments on the DTVS from our BWR operator friends? Dont tell me we dont have any BWR operators here...? Have they all retired already?

Disappointing. Guess nobody likes to talk about defeating containment to save it.

And no comments on the 1972 suspension of further Mark I licensing either?

Those three GE engineers went on to form MHB Associates by the way.

Besides not have a ticker on the NIRS website as being dishonest (somewhat lame?) what else do you find intellectually dishonest?

Anonymous said…
Hello Gunter!

I remember you speaking at my high school way back at the hight of the Clamshell Alliance days (Seabrook construction began the same year I was born in 1972 and finally went on-line the year I graduated class of 1991). How's Guy Chichester?

I was wondering what the official NIRS (and your) position is on all the coal power plants grandfathered in under the original Clean Air Act which reportedly kill some 24,000 Americans every year according to the EPA & Harvard School of Public Health, or nearly 3/4 of a million people since you founded Clamshell back in '76. According to the UN that's the equivalent of 500 Chernobyl disasters per year. Do you believe that a GE Mark I BWR is even capable of an accident on the scale of a (Chernobyl) RBMK?

For mortality data see

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