Waterford 3 is getting ready to begin producing power again after a shutdown to refuel and refurbish the plant.
But while the plant has been shutdown, 800 contract workers and 650 employees are working overtime to get it back online.
The 1,157 megawatt power plant has been shutdown for several weeks. The schedule for stopping and restarting the plant is confidential because it is business-sensitive information, spokesman Carl Rhode said.
“We can’t give a date for when we will be back online due to business sensitivities, but it’s safe to say that we are in the latter stages of the outage,” Rhode said. “Our emphasis is to get back online as quickly and as safely as possible with an intense focus on the quality of work.
“Our priorities are safety first, then quality and then schedule.”
Rhode said that the planned maintenance shutdowns are usually scheduled during the spring and fall, when energy demands are lower. This helps protect customers by reducing the need for purchased power, he added.
This is Waterford’s 16th maintenance turnaround since the plant was started in 1985 and they are done about every 18 months.
The plant had operated continuously for over 400 days since its last shutdown.
“A wide variety of preventive and repair work is scheduled during a typical outage,” Rhode said. “At the heart of it is changing out a portion of the fuel assemblies in the core, but each outage has a slightly different flavor as a few major projects are also set up to be completed during the outage.”
The closure process involves shutting down the nuclear reactor and turbines and letting it cool enough to let workers into the containment vessel.
“The outage has gone well, and most importantly, it has been done very safely so far with no OSHA recordable accidents to date,” Rhode said. “There are always challenges when you shut down after more than a year of continuous operation, but the team has worked through issues and improved the plant.”