Washington’s Columbia Nuclear Plant Returns to Service After Extended Outage

The reactor at the Columbia Generating station achieved criticality Monday and should return to the grid Saturday following a longer-than-expected outage.

Energy Northwest powered down the plant in April for a scheduled refueling outage and a condenser replacement. The utility and contractor Babcock and Wilcox set an estimated completion date of June 23, but problems with the condenser installation pushed that back. The Tri-City Herald quoted an Energy Northwest executive as saying the reactor could be returned to full power in the next few days.

Valve and turbine upgrades also took place during the outage, and improvements are expected to boost the reactor’s output by 12 megawatts electric. The Columbia Generating Station uses a single, 1,190 megawatt GE-5 boiling water reactor with Mark II containment, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Energy Northwest sells power from the plant to the Bonneville Power Administration.

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