26 April 2012

US Reactor Watts Bar 2 Start‑up Delayed Again

In April 2012 the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the United States announced that its plans to complete the second unit at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant would be delayed again. Construction originally started in 1972 (nineteen-seventy-two) and makes it the longest building project in nuclear history. The revised start-up date is now 2015, a delay of three years and the estimated construction cost has risen by between 60-80% from $2.49 billion to between $4-4.5 billion. The cost of this increase will have to be met by a combination of additional borrowings and increased electricity tariffs. The project has been plagued by mismanagement from the start, with TVA citing poor planning, cumbersome and overly complex work streams, and a lack of project controls and communications. Stephen Smith, executive director of the Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the announcement confirms contentions he made in 2007 that the cost estimates for the Watts Bar project were unrealistic. “There must be accountability for this huge mistake. It’s just another chapter in TVA’s long history of dramatic delays and nuclear cost overruns,” Smith said. “For some reason, TVA keeps getting burned at the nuclear oven but keeps going back. You think they would learn that nuclear is not the way to go.”