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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Floodwaters flow near the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant on Lake Dardanelle outside Russellville in this May 30, 2019 file photo.

Entergy soon will shut down one of the reactors at its Arkansas Nuclear One plant in Russellville for refueling and maintenance work. A plant official on Monday would not confirm the specific date of the work but noted it likely will take several weeks and is part of a regularly scheduled maintenance program.

"We're prepping for an outage scheduled for this fall," Entergy spokesman Mike Bowling said, declining to provide specific dates for the shutdown. "It's coming up very shortly."

"Business sensitive" reasons prevent disclosure of exact closing dates, according to Bowling.

The refueling of the Unit One reactor will take several weeks, though Bowling could not commit to a timeframe. "A refueling outage will last from weeks to months," Bowling added. "You're going to see a refueling last multiple months only if there's a large project or a steam generator replacement. Nothing of that magnitude is planned for this refueling outage."

Unit One was last taken off the grid for refueling in 2018. The shutdown lasted from March 24 through May 22 of that year. The Russellville facility has two nuclear reactors and about 1,100 employees.

Each of Entergy's nuclear reactors is taken down every 18-24 months for a standard refueling.

Nuclear plants use fuel rods with uranium in them to heat the water that produces steam to generate power. During an outage, some rods are removed and new ones are put in while others are shuffled into a new pattern.

"That's basically a refueling -- you take out old rods that have been spent and put in new ones and reshuffle," Bowing said.

Maintenance also takes place during the refueling process. "It's maintenance work that cannot be done online; we do it when the plant is offline," he said.

The outage, Bowling said, will have no effect on the utility's ability to provide electricity for its 700,000 customers across Arkansas.

Arkansas Nuclear One was operating in good condition and passed the most recent inspection by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the second quarter of 2019, according to documents filed by the federal agency, which regulates the nation's nuclear power industry.

Donna Gray, executive director of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, said state regulators have no concern with a regularly scheduled refueling outage. "Routine refuelings are commonplace and don't raise any issues for us," she said.

On Monday, John Dinelli assumed duties as site vice president for the Russellville plant, which has been led by Rich Anderson since 2016. Entergy said the change is part of the company's succession planning process. Dinelli has been site vice president at Entergy's Waterford 3 nuclear plant in Louisiana.

Entergy owns, operates and provides management services to nine reactors in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, Nebraska and New York.

Business on 10/01/2019

Print Headline: Refueling set for Arkansas Nuclear One plant


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