The Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant in Soddy-Daisy, TN, can operate until 2041 after regulators Monday approved license extensions for both reactors.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) agreed to extend the operating licenses for unit 1 and unit 2 at the Sequoyah for another 20 years beyond the units’ originally planned lifespan. The NRC determined TVA had an adequate aging management program in place for the plant, which TVA began building in 1969 and began power generation in 1981.
Unit 1 previously had a license to operate until September 2020 and unit 2 had a license to run until September 2021.
“This milestone is a direct reflection of our ongoing commitment to safely operate Sequoyah to benefit the people we serve every day,” TVA’s Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes said after the NRC granted the 20-year license extension. “Extending Sequoyah operations will play an integral role in reducing our carbon emissions while reliably supplying electricity at the lowest possible cost.”
Over the past decade at Sequoyah, TVA replaced the plant’s steam generators, added dry storage casks for spent nuclear fuel and upgraded emergency equipment and flood controls to meet changing regulatory requirements imposed after the Fukushimi nuclear plant accident in Japan in 2011.
The two Sequoyah reactors bring to 78 the number of commercial nuclear power reactors the NRC granted license extensions for to continue operating another 20 years. Applications for an additional 16 renewals are currently under review.
The NRC granted similar 20-year extensions in 2006 for the three reactors at TVA’s biggest nuclear power plant, the 3-unit Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, AL.
At Sequoyah, the NRC reviewed plant equipment, processes and procedures since TVA applied for the license extensions in January 2013.
Combined, the two reactors at Sequoyah generate up to 2,333 megawatts of power — enough to meet the electricity demands for more than 1.3 million homes. TVA projects that by extending its operating nuclear plants and finishing its Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, the federal utility can generate more than a third of its power from nuclear power, which does not emit greenhouse-causing gases into the atmosphere.
Sequoyah and its sister plant, the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, are Westinghouse pressurized water reactors with ice condenser containment systems.
While the NRC required TVA to demonstrate the adequacy of its aging management program at Sequoyah, regulators have not imposed the same requirement for the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar which should begin power generation late this year after more than 32 years of construction.
NRC commissioners authorized its staff at the regional office in Atlanta to issue an operating license for the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar once TVA completes some final tests. The unit will soon load nuclear fuel and could generate power before the end of calendar 2015.