TVA seeks to license the first U.S. nuclear reactor of this century

TVAnuc250The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) requested an operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the 1,150 MW Watts Bar nuclear facility unit 2. It would be the first nuclear reactor to go online in the U.S. since unit 1 in 1996.

The license request signals the completion of comprehensive testing that demonstrates unit 2’s operational readiness. Because TVA’s license request to the NRC lists other tasks necessary to demonstrate the facility is ready and safe, it is unclear when the facility will be commissioned.

Construction on unit 2 was begun in January 1973, during the big U.S. turn toward nuclear power. It was put on hold several times in the interim when U.S. energy demand flattened and when the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima incidents forced reconsideration of NRC standards.

In April 2012, the TVA board reviewed multiple cost overruns and delays, imposed a $4.2 billion budget, and targeted the end of 2015 for operations to begin. The project is now 99% complete and, based on those revisions, “is on time and on budget,” according to TVA President Bill Johnson.

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