Nuclear plant resumes operations

The Callaway Energy Center has resumed generating electricity with its nuclear reactor after completing a routine refueling process lasting nearly two months.

The 1,190-megawatt nuclear power plant is located about 10 miles southeast of Fulton.

The refueling process, which started the second week of April, almost doubled the number of employees at the plant.

Most of the estimated 800 temporary employees reside in Missouri and work at the plant during refueling. They include employees with refueling skills as well as routine maintenance activities that occur when the plant is idle because of refueling.

Bruce Hackmann, president of the Fulton Area Development Corporation, says the refueling process provides a big boost to the Fulton area’s economy.

The additional 800 supplemental workers, he said, help all types of Callaway County businesses during the routine refueling process. The influx of workers also benefits surrounding cities in Central Missouri.

Refueling of the nuclear reactor occurs about every 18 months. It is timed to begin during non-peak demand for electricity during mild weather in either the spring or fall. This makes it easier for the utility to replace electrical energy generated by the nuclear plant.

The nuclear plant generates about 20 percent of the electrical power used by Ameren Missouri’s 1.2 million customers. During the outage, the utility replaced the electricity generated by nuclear power by using the firm’s power plants fired by coal or natural gas.

The nuclear reactor had operated continuously since its last refueling in November of 2011, a period of 500 days. It was the plant’s second longest continuous run. It also was the third time the plant has operated continuously between refuelings. Running without a stoppage of any type is called a breaker-to-breaker run.

The Callaway Energy Center’s nuclear reactor began operating in 1984. Its all-time record continuous run was 520 days, ending in October of 2008.

Barry Cox, senior director of nuclear operations at Ameren Missouri, said he is proud of the employees of the plant.

“The refueling outage,” Cox said, “was successful because of the dedication and teamwork of Callaway’s staff and the supplemental workers.”

Ameren takes advantage of the opportunity to perform maintenance tasks during the outage.

Thousands of periodic maintenance activities are performed during the outage. Inspections are also completed of vital safety equipment at the plant. The plant has state-of-the-art technology in place to enhance long-term safety and reliability.

During the refueling, 89 of the 193 fuel assemblies in the reactor core are replaced. Each fuel assembly is an 8.5-inch square bundle of 12-foot long metal tubes containing ceramic pellets of uranium dioxide fuel.

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