Callaway plant performs inspections tied to license extension, routine refueling
STEEDMAN — The routine refueling and maintenance outage of Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center will include additional inspections the Nuclear Regulatory Commission required as a part of the license extension for the power plant.
The plant’s license was initially set to expire in 2024, but Ameren requested the NRC, the federal agency which oversees the safety of nuclear energy, extend it another 20 years. The NRC granted the extension, but required Ameren inspect certain equipment in the nuclear power plant to ensure it’s not deteriorating. The plant was built and first operational in 1984.
Those inspections are underway during regular maintenance and refueling at the 1,285-megawatt plant. Repairs to the plant will cost close to $130 million — $101 million for capital expenses and $27 million in operation and maintenance costs.
Every 18 months, the plant stops producing power to replace one-third of the fuel assemblies that hold enriched uranium, which fuels the plant to make electricity. Of 193 fuel assemblies, 88 are being replaced with new ones. Expired fuel assemblies will go into the spent fuel pool before moving into dry cask storage in an underground area on the plant’s campus.
Barry Cox, senior director of nuclear operations, said the plant’s reactor vessel, where uranium generates heat under water to create steam, is undergoing inspections tied to the plant’s NRC license to ensure the vessel has not degraded.
Crews also will inspect underground tanks, underground piping, safety-related pumps, a steam generator and tanks holding water and diesel fuel.
“It’s not like we weren’t doing the maintenance, but we have to do some additional inspections,” said Mark McLachlan, senior director of plant support. “We have a few tanks that, for the first 40 years, we didn’t have to go inside of. The NRC said, ‘We need you to go inside that tank now to make sure it doesn’t have any problems.’”
Other inspections the NRC required Ameren to complete in accordance with the plant’s extended life are scheduled to be completed in the next couple of outages and must be completed by the original license expiration date in 2024, McLachlan said.
Not tied to the license extension, crews are re-winding the generator coils and performing scheduled maintenance on high-pressure, steam-driven turbines inside the plant’s turbine-generator building.
Ameren contracted about 1,000 workers from across Missouri to assist with the 10,000 tasks that must be completed within the 55-day outage, which started Oct. 7