TVA cuts contractors at Alabama Bellefonte nuclear site

Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:53am EDT

* TVA to cut 430 of 900 contractors
    * Bellefonte and Watts Bar 2 reactors delayed
    * TVA to release schedule for new reactors in April

    By Scott DiSavino	
    March 16 (Reuters) - The U.S. government-owned
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it would reduce the number
of contractors working on the completion of the Bellefonte
nuclear power project in Alabama.	
    Of the 900 contractors that support the Bellefonte project,
TVA said it would cut 430 positions.	
    "We began releasing contract workers supporting Bellefonte
this week and will continue through mid-May," David Stinson,
vice president, Bellefonte project said in a release Thursday.
"About twenty percent of the affected contractors are working
locally at the site."	
    A spokesman at TVA said Friday the contractors work for many
primarily engineering firms. He said French nuclear conglomerate
Areva SA was one of the biggest contractors.	
    TVA did not disclose financial details about the job
reductions.	
    TVA decided to complete the 1,260-MW Bellefonte 1 reactor in
August. In the past, TVA said the project would cost about $4.9
billion and could enter service by 2020. The company has said it
would take about six years of construction time to finish the
reactor, which was already about 55 percent complete.	
    But the ultimate cost and timing for Bellefonte depends on
work at anther reactor TVA is completing - Watts Bar 2 in
Tennessee.	
    TVA said it will not start construction on Bellefonte until
after fuel is loaded into the 1,180-MW Watts Bar 2.	
    Last month, TVA said the Watts Bar 2 project was running
over budget and behind schedule.	
    TVA decided to complete the second reactor at Watts Bar in
2007 to help meet the region's growing demand for power. The
unit was expected to enter service in 2012 at a cost of about
$2.5 billion.	
    In February, TVA said Watts Bar 2 would likely not enter
service until after 2013 at a cost expected to "significantly
exceed the previous estimate of $2.5 billion."	
    TVA said it expects to release a new budget and schedule for
Watts Bar 2 and Bellefonte in April.	
    TVA started work on the Watts Bar and Bellefonte reactors in
the 1970s but put both projects on hold in the 1980s due in part
to a projected decrease in power demand.    	
    TVA has blamed the Watts Bar 2 delays on the likely
regulatory changes expected to come out of the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission's (NRC) task force on last year's
Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, among other things.	
    In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami damaged the
Fukushima nuclear power plant causing some of the reactor fuel
to meltdown and release radiation. 	
	
 (Reporting By Scott DiSavino;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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