Watts Bar Unit 2 receives operational license from NRC

Watts Bar Unit 2 receives operational license from NRC.
Watts Bar Unit 2 receives operational license from NRC. | Courtesy of the NRC

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a 40-year operating license to the Watts Bar Unit 2, owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), on Thursday.

According to the announcement, this reactor is the first reactor to be authorized for operation since 1996, which was the Watts Bar facility’s first reactor, Unit 1. With this license, the reactor will be allowed to operate through Oct. 22, 2055.

The TVA has maintained Unit 2 since 1985, and its construction had been put on a hiatus until construction resumed in 2007. They report that the facility is also the first site to comply with post-Fukushima orders for Mitigation Strategies and Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation. With this authorization the U.S. now has 100 nuclear reactors in operation.

“After devoting more than 200,000 hours over eight years conducting extensive safety reviews and inspections, we’re satisfied Unit 2 is safe to operate and we’ve issued TVA the operating license,” Bill Dean, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, said. “We already monitor Unit 1’s performance through our Reactor Oversight Process, which is used at all reactor sites throughout the country, and we’re adding Unit 2 to that system. Staff from our Region II office in Atlanta will ensure TVA meets its requirements as it loads fuel into Unit 2 and runs tests before the unit starts generating electricity.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released a statement praising the issuing of this license and stated that it was a milestone for nuclear energy in the U.S.

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