A small fire ignited at the Tennessee Nuclear Plant early Wednesday in one of its newest reactors. The federal utility was forced to declare the lowest emergency classification at the plant.
The plant was testing equipment at the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor when a fire was noticed at 3:42am in a hotwell pump motor used in a turbine building. The fire was extinguished within 19 minutes. Because the fire was at a nuclear plant, it was required to declare the small instance a "Notice of an Unusual Event."
The notice was exited at 5:08am once operators confirmed that plant systems were operating as designed.
"Plant personnel extinguished the motor fire, and there was no danger to the public. Other Watts Bar Unit 2 systems were unaffected. Watts Bar Unit 1 was also unaffected and remained safely online throughout the event," said TVA spokesman Jim Hopson. He went on to say, "We have to complete our evaluation of what happened, but on the surface, this does not appear to be something that should significantly affect the startup of this unit."
"Hotwell pumps are part of the unit's condenser system and help recirculate water condensed from steam after it passes through the turbines used to generate electricity. They are located on the power generation side of the plant and are not directly associated with the reactor or with the reactor cooling system," according to Firefighter Nation.
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