NRC awards Callaway Plant extension on safety upgrades

More time allows Energy Center to build safer, more cost-effective alternative

In an effort to build a better, more cost-effective solution on an element of safety mandates from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Callaway Energy Center has secured a partial extension on their upgrade schedule.

The Callaway Energy Center now has until spring 2016 to build a secondary, “more robust” water storage tank for the plant’s cooling system, which would meet the requirements of the ordered safety upgrades and operate alongside the current tank.

In response to a natural-disaster-fueled nuclear meltdown in Japan, last year the NRC issued an order for all of the nuclear reactors it oversees to “develop and implement strategies to maintain or restore core cooling, reactor coolant system inventory, containment cooling and spent fuel pool cooling capabilities” during a similar event, according to a letter released from the NRC.

Callaway Vice President of Engineering Cleve Reasoner said that the industry-wide deadline for implementation of the recommendations is 2016. However, Reasoner said that plants’ individual schedules were staggered in order to give the NRC more time to oversee the process.

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Most recommendations, including building a “hardened” concrete storage facility to house additional pumps, generators, fuel, food and other items to respond to an unplanned outage, will be completed in that time.

However, Reasoner said the plant also needed to make improvements to condensation tanks used for cooling the reactor.

“We need a source of water to provide cooling for the reactor, so the question becomes ‘where do you get the water?’” Reasoner said. “We have some choices where we could use water that’s on sight; one is an existing tank, the other is a pond we have. Ultimately with the existing tank there were some robustness questions — it’s a robust tank, but it won’t meet all the requirements we ultimately want it to meet in future.

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