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Washington's Columbia Nuclear Plant
Returns to Service After Extended Outage

by Staff
Nuclear Street, September 23, 2011

(Steve Ringman) The spent-fuel pool that holds used fuel rods is similar to those damaged at Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex. Nuclear experts say it's the most vulnerable part of the plant. The reactor at the Columbia Generating station achieved criticality Monday and should return to the grid Saturday following a longer-than-expected outage.

Energy Northwest powered down the plant in April for a scheduled refueling outage and a condenser replacement. The utility and contractor Babcock and Wilcox set an estimated completion date of June 23, but problems with the condenser installation pushed that back. The Tri-City Herald quoted an Energy Northwest executive as saying the reactor could be returned to full power in the next few days.

Valve and turbine upgrades also took place during the outage, and improvements are expected to boost the reactor's output by 12 megawatts electric. The Columbia Generating Station uses a single, 1,190 megawatt GE-5 boiling water reactor with Mark II containment, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Energy Northwest sells power from the plant to the Bonneville Power Administration.

Washington's Columbia Nuclear Plant Returns to Service After Extended Outage
Nuclear Street, September 23, 2011

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