Fire in Watts Bar pump motor on Wednesday declared an emergency

Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant has become the first such plant in the U.S. to receive a license for power generation in 19 years.
photo The TVA Watts Bar Nuclear Plant is photographed on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, near Spring City, Tenn., as Unit 2 begins producing electricity for the first time, 43 years after construction began at the site.

A small fire ignited early Wednesday in one of the pump motors for TVA's newest reactors, forcing the federal utility to declare the lowest of emergency classifications at the plant even before it has produced any power.

TVA crews were testing equipment in its Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor Wednesday when the fire was noticed at 3:42 a.m. in one of the three hotwell pump motors used in the turbine building on the non-nuclear side of the new unit. The fire was extinguished within 19 minutes, but TVA was still required to declare a "Notice of an Unusual Event" - the lowest of the four NRC emergency classifications.