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Nuclear plant update goes before Louisa board

Dominion Energy Virginia officials say 2019 was a good year, as the company’s North Anna Power Station kept the electricity flowing, stayed safe and remained secure.

The company, which operates two power generation facilities at the nuclear plant in Louisa County, will present its annual State of the Station report to the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, immediately following the board’s regular meeting.

The presentation of the report is open to the public.

Dominion also has filed notice with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it will request to continue operating the two generation units for another 20 years after the current licenses end.

The company applied to the regulatory commission in 2007 for permission to build a third reactor at the Lake Anna facility. That request was approved in 2017.

The report is part of a 1984 agreement between the county and Dominion. It will include the operation of the plant, storage of radioactive wastes from spent fuels, safety and environmental and health issues.

“We’re going to be talking about North Anna’s operational performance in 2019, which was excellent with only one unplanned outage for the units and planned refueling outages completed successfully at both,” said Ken Holt, Dominion’s manager of nuclear fleet communications.

“We’ll also be discussing the fact our industrial safety performance was also very good with only one OSHA recordable injury in 2019,” he said. “We’ll also be talking about fuel storage, employee involvement in the community and environmental monitoring programs.”

The report is available at under the agendas tab on the Board of Supervisors page.

According to the document, there were no environmental issues during 2019. The plant had one emergency on March 3, 2019, when there were indications of a possible fire inside the reactor containment facility.

“The onsite fire team was promptly dispatched and verified that a fire did not exist,” the report states. “All notifications were made appropriately to the state and Nuclear Regulatory Commission in accordance with station procedures.”

The plant’s Unit 2 nuclear generation facility was shut down for refueling for 37 days between March and April, according to the report. The Unit 1 reactor was shut down for 23 days for refueling in September and October.

Issues with transmission lines required both units to be shut down briefly, but were returned to full power after the issues were addressed.

The facility passed a June emergency preparedness inspection by the regulatory commission with no problems identified. According to the commission’s nuclear power plant scorecard, the North Anna units both scored top marks across the topics, from containment to operation to site security.

In 2010, North Anna detected the radioactive hydrogen isotope tritium in one monitoring well inside the plant. Leaks were detected and repaired and additional testing wells were installed on site. No tritium has been reported since, the report states, and no unusual occurrences were noted at the facility in the last year.

Dominion hopes to keep both plants operating through the middle of this century and is filing its request this year with the regulatory commission.

“We have informed the [commission] that we intend to file an application with the NRC to relicense North Anna for an additional 20 years. That application will be made this year although I don’t have a firm date.”

According to the report, the original 40-year licenses for North Anna were renewed in 2003 and are slated to expire in 2038 and 2040. Approval would extend the plant operations at the units until 2058 and 2060.

According to Dominion, the advance notice is needed to allow the regulatory commission to plan its staffing to review the license renewal, which will include updates needed to the reactors, storage facilities and operation of the generating plants.

“The company is reviewing all technical aspects associated with the renewal of North Anna Power Station’s licenses, and while not yet complete, sees no significant barriers that would prevent a license renewal submittal in 2020,” the report states. “The company expects to invest up to $4 billion on upgrades to North Anna and Surry [Power Station] as part of the relicensing process.”

The company has not decided whether to build the third reactor at the site, the report states.

“Having [permission] means that [Dominion] can build and operate the unit at a time that makes sense to move forward,” the report states. “The company must, however, first get approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission before it can construct the unit.”

According to the report, the North Anna Power Station employs nearly 850 full-time employees with as many as 1,000 temporary workers during refueling. Dominion Energy paid an estimated $12.6 million in taxes to Louisa County in 2019.

North Anna provides 1,892 net megawatts of electricity, enough power for 473,000 homes, according to Dominion.


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