TVA: Improvements being made at Browns Ferry nuclear plant

Source: Tennessee Valley Authority 

The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant is making progress toward a return to top-performing status, reducing fire risk and increasing equipment reliability, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) executives told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday.

TVA shared the information at a public meeting at Calhoun Community College in Tanner, Ala.

“TVA is committed to provide resources and support to make improvements at Browns Ferry. Nuclear power is critical to TVA’s vision to be a leader in low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020,” TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Preston Swafford said.

The NRCissued a “red finding” to Browns Ferry in May 2011 citing a concern of “high safety significance” related to a valve that didn’t open. The valve was part of a cooling system that would be used in the event of an emergency in one of the reactors at the plant. While the valve and others like it were fixed rapidly, the value issue identified a need to enhance the overall performance of the plant, its equipment, and procedures and processes.

As part of the improvement plan and activities, the Browns Ferry team is focusing on five key areas - accountability, the corrective action program, fire risk reduction, operational decision-making and equipment reliability.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but everyone at Browns Ferry is committed to making it happen,” said Keith Polson, Browns Ferry site vice president. 

The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant operates three reactor units for a total generating capacity of 3,440 megawatts. Located on the north shore of Wheeler Reservoir in north Alabama it was TVA’s first nuclear power plant, and the largest in the world when it began operation in 1974. Browns Ferry is also the first nuclear plant in the world to generate more than 1 billion watts of power.

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