The fully assembled reactor vessel was installed at the Watts Bar Nuclear Power this month in three separate, precise lifts.
TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said the first piece, the core barrel, was placed Aug. 9 over 12 hours and had to fit in a space with a clearance of less than a centimeter in any direction. The barrel is more than 33 feet in height, and weighs 282,000 pounds. It holds the 193 fuel assemblies.
Three days later, TVA workers and contractors installed the upper assembly, which houses the control rods.
The final and heaviest piece, the reactor head, was placed Aug. 13. The head alone weighs 298,700 pounds.
Then all the pieces were secured together over the next week.
·The assembly is part of preparations for the next round of testing of key systems to demonstrate the readiness of the unit for commercial operation by December 2015.
Watts Bar Unit 2 will be the first new commercial nuclear power plant in the United States to be completed in the 21st century. The Unit 1 reactor at Watts Bar, which began operation in 1996, was the last U.S. reactor to be added to the electric grid.
Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...