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Spring marks the beginning of quite a few things, and one of them is refueling nuclear plants as two more facilities are taking advantage of more moderate temperatures and less demand for power.

The Tennessee Valley Authority began a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage over the weekend at the Unit 1 reactor at the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant in Tennessee. In addition, the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska also shut down for refueling and maintenance.

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The Soddy-Daisy, TN-based Sequoyah refueling comes after the reactor produced more than 13.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity over the past 18 months, including one period of 474 consecutive days of full power operation.

“Outages create different kinds of tasks for the team but our focus remains exactly the same performing each job safely and with the highest levels of quality,” said John Carlin, Seqouyah’s site vice president. “Unit 2 will remain online during the Unit 1 outage, so all activities are carefully coordinated to maintain public and employee safety.”

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An additional 950 TVA and contract employees will supplement the site’s regular staff during the outage, which began Saturday. More than 12,000 work activities are on the schedule, including loading new fuel assemblies, performing inspections of reactor components, maintaining plant equipment and installing unit enhancements.

“We intend to take full advantage of this opportunity to improve the reliability of the plant,” Carlin said.

At full capacity, Sequoyah’s two generating units provide a combined 2,200 megawatts of electricity, which can power 1.3 million homes.

Meanwhile, the Omaha Public Power District plant went offline on Saturday. District officials said they will replace one third of the fuel assemblies. Workers also will perform preventive maintenance, replace equipment and conduct numerous tests on equipment and instrumentation. The plant should be back on regular operation in 45 days.

Fort Calhoun, which sits about 20 miles north of Omaha, can provide 478 megawatts of power.

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