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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2007
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Unit 1 passes automatic shutdown test

By Eric Fleischauer
eric@decaturdaily.com 340-2435

Unit 1 of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant completed the first of two scheduled automatic shutdowns Tuesday morning with no problems.

As part of the restart process, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission required Tennessee Valley Authority to test the systems that are designed to shut down the plant in the event of an increase in pressure in the reactor vessel.

TVA closed the steam line going from the reactor to the turbines, said Browns Ferry spokesman Craig Beasley, to initiate the shutdown. That triggered the opening of 13 steam relief valves, diverting the steam from the reactor vessel. It also caused the injection of coolant into the reactor to keep the pressure down.

TVA inserted neutron-absorbing rods, which eliminate energy-producing fission in the reactor, to complete the shutdown.

"All of those worked as they were supposed to," Beasley said.

During the shutdown, TVA performed minor maintenance on the plant.

Tuesday morning, after slow retraction of the control rods, the plant's power was up to 1.5 percent. TVA will gradually increase the power to 100 percent and return it to the electric grid.

Before the test, Unit 1 had been at 100 percent power and online. The restart, five years and $1.8 billion in the making, began a month ago.

The NRC requires one more automatic shutdown in the next few weeks.

"We're working with the NRC to schedule that," Beasley said.

Power demand in the Tennessee Valley is at a peak now because of the hot weather, so the timing of the shutdowns is not ideal.

"We may be working with NRC, since it's coming up on the hottest part of the summer, to see if we can get some relief (in scheduling the shutdown) so we can get you all some relief, some more power on the grid," said Beasley.

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