Watts Bar Unit 1 was shutdown over the weekend due to a “loss of vacuum” in the condenser. The unit will remain offline while TVA employees figure out what caused the loss of a vacuum in the condenser.
TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said there was never any danger to the public or plant personnel but operators manually shut down the reactor when they saw the condenser problem. “This was an uncomplicated trip, meaning that everything worked exactly as it was supposed to, but we had to bring the reactor offline until we determine the source of the problem,” he said.
Hopson said warmer weather over this weekend has significantly lowered TVA’s power demand from Thursday’s peak levels, “so we do not expect the temporary loss of Watts Bar Unit 1’s generation to create any issues for the transmission system.”
“Of course, the team is working with a sense of urgency to find and correct the problem so the unit can be restored to service as soon as possible,” Hopson said.
The 1,121-megawatt reactor is capable of generating enough power to serve the electricity needs for about two cities the size of Chattanooga, TN. Prior to the shutdown, the unit had been running for 220 consecutive days.
Watts Bar Unit 2 is under construction and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could decide by spring whether to issue an operating license. TVA plans to begin hot functional testing of plant equipment in March and, if the operating license is granted, load nuclear fuel by June in order to start power generation by December.