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Vogtle refueling adds 800 workers to Burke County nuclear plant

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Georgia’s two nuclear power plants were operating at reduced capacity Monday because of a scheduled refueling at Plant Vogtle and precautionary reductions at Plant Hatch.

Vogtle’s Unit 2 was taken offline to allow workers to replace fuel rods and perform maintenance, said Alyson Fuqua, a spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear.

The process, which typically takes about 25 days and brings about 800 temporary workers to the site, occurs in 18-month intervals and is the first post-Fukushima refueling at the Burke County plant.

Though U.S. nuclear power operations are under enhanced scrutiny after the meltdown of damaged reactors in Japan, no changes are under way at Vogtle.

“There have been no specific actions put in place for the fall outages related to Fukushima,” Fuqua said. “Southern Nuclear continues to work with the Nu­clear Regulatory Commission and the industry to determine if any follow-up actions are needed in the short and long term based upon the events and lessons learned.”

Such scheduled reactor shutdowns typically cost plant owners about $1 million a day in lost revenues.

Vogtle’s Unit 1, which has briefly been shut down twice this year because of unforeseen equipment issues, was operating at 100 percent capacity, according to the NRC.

Plant Hatch, near Baxley in south Georgia, was operating at reduced capacity, the NRC reported. Unit 1 was at 84 percent power, and Unit 2 was at 91 percent.

Fuqua said the reductions are intentional.

“Both Hatch units have been at slightly reduced power at different times throughout the summer,” she said. “This is due to the high heat and ambient conditions. This is precautionary and allows us to preserve and protect our equipment.”

At full power, Vogtle and Hatch generate 20 percent of the electricity used by Georgia Power, which serves 2.25 million customers in all but four of the state’s 159 counties.

Two additional reactors are planned for the Vogtle site. The NRC is scheduled to meet Sept. 27 to discuss Southern Nuclear’s request for a combined operating license that would authorize both
the construction and operation of the two new reactors.

Learn More:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission real-time reactor status home page:

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Willow Bailey
Willow Bailey 09/19/11 - 09:58 pm
Rather misleading headline.

Rather misleading headline.

ssimpso2 09/20/11 - 07:30 am
What relevance does this

What relevance does this statement have being the "first post-Fukushima refueling" in regards to this routine maintenance activity? "Stirring the pot" and "alarmist" comes to mind. Why don't we use any situation to plant a seed of fear and alarm in the unknowing and create panic? The plant has ALWAYS been under extreme NRC scrutiny and it always will be.

bubbasauce 09/20/11 - 11:23 am
It is really amazing how the

It is really amazing how the media loves to create drama and fear at the same time. First, America's nuclear plants are the safest power plants in the world and Vogtle is probably the safest one I have worked at over my 29 years working in the Nuclear Industry. I have worked at least 20 different nuclear facilities in the U.S., including one in Spain (Cofrentes Nuclear Plant) and one in Mexico (Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant). Believe me when I say the United States Nuclear Plants are by far the safest in the world. There is no need to keep fear in people all the time, this is you I am talking to Media!

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