TVA Halts Watts Bar 2 Reactor Construction to Address Safety Concerns

Some 1,000 contract workers at the Watts Bar 2 project will face a day and a half without pay this week as the Tennessee Valley Authority shuts down construction to review recent safety problems.

Watts Bar nuclear plant. Source: TVAIn December, TVA inspectors discovered contractors erroneously removed cables from backup pressurizer heaters for the operating reactor at the site. Also, a valve was removed from the new reactor this month contrary to instructions attached to the part. As a result, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported TVA management will order a “stand-down” of contractor personnel at noon Wednesday, with additional safety talks and training sessions scheduled to begin today.

When completed next year, Watts Bar 2 will join another Westinghouse pressurized water reactor at the plant northeast of Chattanooga, Tenn. Last summer, unit 2 received the first fuel shipment to a new U.S. power reactor in 15 years. Its construction began in the 1970s but stalled in 1988. TVA restarted construction in 2007, budgeting about $2.5 billion for its completion.

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