Entergy outage, upgrade nearing completion

Published 12:13 pm Friday, June 8, 2012

The outage at Grand Gulf Nuclear Station is ending, and the plant is gradually returning to full capacity, an Entergy Nuclear official said Thursday.

“We are still officially in the outage,” spokeswoman Suzanne Anderson said. “However, the process to safely exit the outage is in progress.”

A daily status report for the nation’s 104 active nuclear power plants showed the Claiborne County facility at 1 percent capacity this morning, same as Thursday when the plant emerged from zero capacity for the first time in 109 days. More than 5,000 workers from 76 companies and 15 subcontractors nationwide refueled the boiling-water reactor and upgraded its core to generate 13 percent more power — making it the nation’s most powerful single reactor. The price tag was forecast at $874 million in the utility’s most recent quarterly financial report.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The Shaw Group, a Baton Rouge-based engineering and energy services conglomerate and a key player in the nuclear power industry, has technical staff still on site. About 300 workers remain on the job at Grand Gulf, said Nicole Lachance, a communications manager for the firm’s plant services division.

Ordinarily, the plant employs about 700 people, many of whom live in Vicksburg and Warren County.

Several local economies in west-central Mississippi have seen the first-of-its-kind project as a boon, particularly hotels, rental complexes, RV parks, laundromats and retail stores. Hotel occupancy in Vicksburg was 72.4 percent in April, up sharply from 56 percent last April. Figures for May should be released later this month.

In Claiborne County, businesses large and small grew as a result of the outage — from roadside eateries to bed and breakfast-style tour homes, said Milton Chambliss of the Claiborne County Economic Development District.

Chambliss also credited the outage for a new community welcome guide he offers in the district office.

“It certainly has been a short-term economic boom for this part of the state,” Chambliss said. “I’m hoping some of the additional dollars continue. I’m hoping we get some return visits.”

The plant’s current license expires in 2024. An application to extend it an additional 20 years is expected to be considered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by September 2013.