$510 million Waterford project delayed until ‘12

A $510 million project that called for the replacement of both steam generators and the pressure head at Waterford 3 this year has been delayed until the fall of 2012, according to Entergy spokesman Carl Rhode.

The project has been in the works for more than four years and will allow for an extension of the operating life of the nuclear plant in Killona for another 20 years when completed.

The reason for the delay is due to a fabrication issue with the replacement steam generators at the company in Spain that is assembling them, Rhode said. Now, Entergy will schedule the project in conjunction with its refuel next year.

Entergy usually refuels 30 percent of Waterford’s fuel every 18 months, and recently finished its seventeenth refuel during the spring. While the two replacement generators from Spain are not complete, the pressure head, which was built in South Korea, has arrived at Waterford and is in storage, Rhode said.

When the outage gets underway next year, Entergy is planning to hire 2,400 temporary workers. Of those, 500 will be local craftsmen like carpenters, pipefitters and iron workers. Entergy will coordinate this influx of workers with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Transportation and Development to make sure the extra traffic will be handled as efficiently as possible.

Rhode said workers used by Entergy during outages are often recruited through local union halls.

Waterford 3 currently has more than 600 employees, so the company has already built additional parking lots to house the extra workers. Entergy was also constructing a haul path from the facility to the river so that materials could be more easily transported, but construction was stopped.

“The path over the levee mostly returned to its normal state and we will lay the mats out again before the expected arrival of the steam generators in 2012,” Rhode said.

During summer months, when energy demands are the highest in south Louisiana, Waterford focuses attention on work scheduling and preventive steps to ensure reliability during the hottest part of the year.

“We have an extensive list of more than 90 actions deliberately timed to assure optimal plant performance during the summer period,” said Bert Buford, equipment reliability coordinator at Waterford 3. “Through these actions, we’re assuring reliability and stabilizing costs for Louisiana residents.”

With the high electrical demand that the summer causes, operating margins for grid stability are reduced and the market price for electricity rises sharply.

Actions taken include installing temporary air conditioning units to cool sensitive equipment, using divers to clean the intake structure on the Mississippi River and having plant engineers, operators and maintenance technicians perform inspections to identify potential summer threats.

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