Nuclear Matinee: The Mighty Watts Bar FLEX Building

If a tornado just happens to come through… flying steel pipes, telephone poles, or even automobiles will be no match for this building. This is the new Watts Bar FLEX building, housing emergency backup equipment like generators and pumps that could be used to replace equipment in case of damage from a natural disaster. Watts Bar will likely be the first nuclear facility in the United States to comply with all the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s post-Fukushima requirements, as the Tennessee Valley Authority works toward licensing for Watts Bar Unit 2 with a target date of beginning commercial operation in December next year.

And take a more in-depth tour of the building:

Thanks to the Tennessee Valley Authority for producing the first fine video, and thanks to the Nuclear Energy Institute News Team for producing the second.

FLEX door

One Response to Nuclear Matinee: The Mighty Watts Bar FLEX Building

  1. I realize that many people have worked hard on this project and have earned the right to be proud of their accomplishment.

    I can’t help but feel saddened by the additional financial burden imposed on the cleanest and safest power generators on our electric grid. Presumably, responding to the new Fukushima directives means that each reactor site in the US will have to find a place to install one of these hardened facilities.

    Each one of those construction projects will require extensive site preparation and probably substantial redesign to take into account the local soil conditions. The effort will provide employment for hundreds of people, and revenue for dozens of contractor and suppliers. However, it will not add a single MW-hour of electrical power.

    At the end, my prediction is that no one who already opposes nuclear energy will be satisfied by the increased resilience, but those who rightly claim that nuclear energy costs too much and entails too much financial uncertainty will have one more reason to avoid investing their money in a new nuclear development project.

    I predict that a vanishingly small portion of the equipment stored in those buildings will ever be used. When the facilities are decommissioned, a tiny portion of the expense will be recovered when the “like new” equipment is auctioned off. Tearing down the ugly, windowless, thick-walled building will simply add to the cost of decommissioning.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

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