Grand Gulf refueling begins

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

Grand Gulf Nuclear Station began its 19th refueling outage this past week with help from an influx of out-of-town help reminiscent of two years ago when the plant upped its overall generating capacity.
On Sunday, control operators removed the Claiborne County plant from service for the routine maintenance outage, according to a news release from Entergy Nuclear. Over the next several weeks, workers will replace 344 fuel assemblies in the reactor and perform tests and inspections on plant equipment.
Entergy did not specify a time frame for the outage.
The plant’s 600 or so full-time employees are supplemented by more than 1,000 contract laborers, according to the release. The help includes pipefitters, millwrights, ironworkers, carpenters, boilermakers, electricians, laborers, valve technicians, engineers, operating engineers and radiation protection.
The utility said the outside workers and “their associated spending” should provide an economic boost to local communities.
In 2012, about 5,000 specialists were brought in to help upgrade the boiling-water reactor’s capacity by 13 percent, making it the nation’s most powerful single reactor. The project took about six months and pumped an extra $100,000 a month into Vicksburg’s economy in the form of hospitality tax revenue.
The plant undergoes periodic refueling and maintenance according to federal law as regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.