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Columbia Generating Station Back Online

by Drew Foster
Tri-City Herald, June 26, 2009

The Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant is back online after an about 47-day outage.

The plant was taken offline May 9 for its scheduled refueling outage, which takes place every two years.

During the outage, about a third of the 764 nuclear fuel assemblies in the reactor's core were replaced. Maintenance also was performed on hundreds of valves used to operate many functions of the facility, said Rochelle Olson, corporate communications officer for Energy Northwest, which owns and operates the plant.

"We take advantage while we're offline to go in and inspect everything," she said.

The outage was scheduled to last 38 days, but ran longer after additional valves were found to be in need of repair. The plant came back online Wednesday afternoon.

Energy Northwest officials said the outages are "timed to coincide with springtime snowmelt and runoff that maximizes power output from the region's hydroelectric system and minimizes impact while the nuclear station is offline."

Preparation work also was done in anticipation of the 2011 outage, where the focus will be on replacing the plant's condenser -- used to convert steam back into water after the steam passes through the turbine.

More than 1,800 temporary and contract workers were brought in from across the country to work at the plant during the outage. The majority of those workers, Olson said, have returned home.

Drew Foster
Columbia Generating Station Back Online
Tri-City Herald, June 26, 2009

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