IF YOU GO
What: NRC hearing to extend operating license of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant
When: Wednesday, 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Where: Soddy-Daisy City Hall, 9835 Dayton Pike
• Construction at Sequoyah began in 1969 and was completed in 1980.
• Each of two reactors there can produce more than 1,160 megawatts of electricity. Together they can supply the needs of about 1.3 million homes a day.
• About 1,100 people work at Sequoyah.
• In 2010, Sequoyah's total generation of 18 million megawatt-hours was 17th-best among the nation's 104 commercial reactors, according to Electric Light & Power magazine.
TVA officials have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the operating license of Sequoyah Nuclear Plant and extend the plant's two reactor licenses for an additional 20 years — until 2040 and 2041.
NRC plans public meetings Wednesday on the extension requests.
The 32-year-old Sequoyah plant, about 16 miles northeast of downtown Chattanooga, has two pressurized-water reactors. The current operating licenses expire Sept. 17, 2020, for reactor Unit 1 and Sept. 15, 2021, for reactor Unit 2.
TVA officials say the plant is in good shape and has many more good years to offer, but at least one local anti-nuclear group thinks the plant is too old for a 20-year extension.
"After Fukushima meltdowns, tritium leaks, and frequent shutdowns due to accidents, there are many health, safety, cost and environmental concerns," said Sandy Kurtz, a member of the Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team. "Recently NRC issued [Sequoyah] a notice of violation due to too many shutdowns in one year. Another six were issued on March 16 due to the high probability risk for flooding and inadequate mitigation," she said.
The NRC's hearing seeks input from the region's citizens as NRC determines whether to grant permission for license extensions.
TVA submitted its application in January, shortly after completing the three-month, $360 million job of replacing the Unit 2 steam generators. TVA said before the work began that when it was complete the utility would ask NRC to extend the plant's reactor licenses.
The generators in Sequoyah's Unit 1 were replaced in 2003.
The NRC docketed the extension application in early March and published a notice of opportunity to request an adjudicatory hearing on March 5. The deadline to request a hearing is May 6, according to NRC spokesman Roger Hannah.
Public comments on the scope of the environmental review may also be submitted in writing, following submittal instructions published March 8 in the Federal Register. The deadline to submit comments is May 3.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...