Virus puts Fermi 2 refueling outage on hold
NEWPORT, Mich. — DTE Energy said it instituted “an extended safety stand down” at its Fermi 2 nuclear plant in northern Monroe County over the weekend because of the coronavirus outbreak there, one which will likely keep the plant idle much longer than expected and add to its operating expenses.
The plant was in the midst of its latest refueling and maintenance outage, which began March 21.
The industry standard for completing them has been a month in recent years. The safety stand down began Friday. It is unknown how many of the thousand or so DTE workers and specialized contractors are being paid to stay at area homes and motels until the stand down is lifted. The utility was able to resume some work on Monday, according to a statement issued by Stephen Tait, DTE spokesman.
Refueling and maintenance outages are among the busiest times at a nuclear plants. They happen on average once every 18 to 24 months, depending on the type of uranium in a nuclear plant’s reactor. Hundreds of tasks that can’t be done while the plants are operating are performing while the facilities are taken offline to be refueled. Each refueling consists of replacing a third of the reactor core with fresh steel-cladded, uranium-filled fuel assembles.