Grand Gulf refueling taking longer than expected

Published 11:38 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Refueling Grand Gulf Nuclear Station has taken longer than plant officials suggested a year ago, and officials aren’t saying when it will be completed.

The Claiborne County plant shut down Feb. 19 to refuel the boiling-water reactor and increase its generating capacity by 13 percent.

Today makes 81 days at zero capacity.

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Entergy Nuclear spokeswoman Suzanne Anderson said Tuesday that neither the time frame nor the duration of the outage could be discussed due to safety and security concerns. In April 2011, plant manager Jeremy Browning said the refueling outage would last 75 days.

The $754 million power upgrade was to last at least through June, when contracts run out for many of the 4,000 or so workers brought in for the work.

Once it’s complete, Grand Gulf will be the nation’s most powerful single reactor.

In an unrelated development at Grand Gulf, a report prepared for the plant’s safety coordinator said mold was found on ceiling tiles and in drywall inside the plant in March.

Anderson said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the mold was not enough to harm workers, and it was removed.

The influx of contract workers staying in Mississippi has been cited for boons in several local economies from Vicksburg to Natchez.

Hospitality tax collections in Vicksburg were up 24 percent in March compared to a year ago. Hotel occupancy was 84 percent for the month, up from 59 percent in March 2011.

Sales tax revenue in Vicksburg for February, the most recent month available, was $714,054, up nearly 16 percent from February 2011.