Hatch Nuclear Plant Unit 1 returns to service after loading first of its kind, industry-changing fuel technology

ET, operators at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant safely returned Unit 1 to service following a planned refueling and maintenance outage that began Feb. 4at 9:28 p.m. ET.

During the outage, in collaboration with Global Nuclear Fuel, Plant Hatch installed accident tolerant fuel test assemblies developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. This technology has industry-changing safety and efficiency advantages and is the first of its kind to be installed in a commercial nuclear reactor.

“We were thrilled to install the new test assemblies at Plant Hatch,” said John Williams, Southern Nuclear nuclear fuel director. “Our top priority is the safety and health of the public and our employees, and this game-changing technology will make plants even safer, resulting in more flexibility in our operations. This is not a small step, but a leap for our industry.”

The last refueling outage for Unit 1 was completed in spring 2016. Each unit at Plant Hatch requires new fuel every 24 months. In addition to refueling the reactor and performing regular maintenance and testing, workers made upgrades to plant systems and components.

Plant Hatch Unit 2 continued to safely generate electricity while Unit 1 was offline and refueling.

“I’m proud of the work we accomplished during this outage and the advancements we made to Unit 1, and I commend our team for their focus on working safely and efficiently,” said Plant Hatch Vice President David Vineyard. “The work we perform during our outages is a significant investment in our facility. Unit 1 is positioned not just for the next 24 months, but for years of continued safe and reliable electricity production.”

Employees from across the Southern Nuclear fleet assisted Plant Hatch’s staff of more than 900 in the refueling effort. More than 800 additional workers from General Electric, Day and Zimmerman, and other partners were on site performing specialized tasks. This supplemental workforce provides economic stimulus to surrounding communities during the planning stages and throughout the outage. Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, operates Plant Hatch on behalf of Georgia Power and co-owners Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.

For more information about the accident tolerant fuel test assembly load, read the news release issued by Global Nuclear Fuel.