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Staff photo by Dave Flessner / The cooling towers at the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant on the Tennessee River near Soddy Daisy help cool the steam generated by the twin reactors.

An additional 872 contract workers have been brought to the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant near Soddy-Daisy this week to help with the refueling and maintenance outage of the oldest reactor at the TVA plant.

The Unit 1 reactor at Sequoyah, which generated nearly 1.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity during more than 500 days of power operation since its last refueling, was shut down last week for its routine outage on Saturday. During the next several weeks, more than 11,443 work activities are planned while the unit is in cold shutdown, including loading new fuel assemblies, performing inspections of reactor components, maintenance of plant equipment and installing unit enhancements.

(Read more: TVA to save $4 million a year by redeeming bonds)

"Outages like this demonstrate TVA's investment to deliver reliable, low-cost, carbon-free electricity for the people and businesses of the Valley," Matt Rasmussen, TVA Sequoyah site vice president, said in a statement today. "The team will load new nuclear fuel and perform key maintenance activities that can only be safely completed with the unit offline."

Rasmussen said preparations for the outage began in May 2016, as part of the site's standard work management practices to ensure all work can be completed safely and as scheduled.

"Sequoyah's highly skilled workforce is making the most of this opportunity to ensure Unit 1 continues to operate safely and reliably until its next refueling outage about 18 months from now," he said.

With the refueling of one of the two units at Sequoyah, TVA now has two of its seven nuclear reactors in cold shutdown for refueling outages. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's daily power report, Unit 1 at TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, Tenn., is also shut down. TVA's other unit at Watts Bar and all three of its reactors at its Browns Ferry plant near Athens, Ala., are operating at full power.

Collectively, TVA's nuclear fleet provides more than 40 percent of all electricity used by nearly 10 million people in the Tennessee Valley. Nuclear generation at TVA is more than twice the U.S. average for all utilities.

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