Refueling of the nuclear reactor that starts this week at the Callaway Energy Center has added more than 800 supplemental workers to the economy in Callaway County and Central Missouri.
An Ameren Missouri spokesman said the refueling process will double the number of employees at the plant, which has about 800 full-time employees. Most of the 800 new temporary contract employees also reside in Missouri.
The refueling process is expected to last for several weeks.
Bruce Hackmann, president of the Fulton Area Development Corporation, said Monday the temporary jobs will provide a big boost to the Fulton area's economy.
"Many local businesses have already commented to me that they have noticed a pickup of business since the extra employees arrived earlier at the nuclear plant," Hackmann said.
Many of the jobs for refueling, testing and maintenance are highly technical. The refueling process attracts well-paid employees with disposable income.
"It helps all types of businesses, especially local restaurants, housing, retail and services," Hackmann said.
The refueling process, which occurs every 18 months, 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 the electrical energy generated at the plant.
During the refueling and maintenance outage, Ameren will replace the energy generated by nuclear power by generating additional electricity at its power plants fired by coal or natural gas.
The nuclear reactor has operated continuously since its last refueling in November 2011. The 500-day span marked the plant's second longest continuous run.
During the current refueling, operators will replace 89 of the 193 fuel assemblies in the reactor core. Each fuel assembly is an 8 1/2-inch square bundle of 12-foot metal tubes containing ceramic pellets of uranium dioxide fuel.
The fuel assemblies generate heat that is transferred to heat pipes containing water flowing through them. The water turns to pressurized steam, which drives the turbines generating electricity.
While the refueling process is occurring, thousands of maintenance activities, inspections and tests also are performed to ensure maximum safety and reliability when the energy center returns to service.
Two federal inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are assigned permanently to the Callaway Energy Center.