Richland nuke plant coming back from outage this weekend

Tri-City HeraldJune 27, 2013 

Energy Northwest's nuclear power plant near Richland is expected to be operating at full power this weekend after completing a refueling outage.

The outage ended early Tuesday, and the Columbia Generating Station has been gradually powering up since then, achieving more than 60 percent power Thursday.

The plant, which produces enough power to supply a city the size of Seattle, is shut down every other spring to replace about a third of its fuel assemblies with fresh ones. The down time also is used for maintenance and repairs that cannot be done while the plant is operating.

This year a 40-day outage was planned, and although it stretched to about 45 days, Energy Northwest was "extremely pleased," said spokesman Mike Paoli.

Work goals were met and the outage was conducted safely, with the plant and workers meeting all of their "excellence" targets, he said.

About 1,350 temporary employees were hired for the outage, boosting Mid-Columbia employment at a time that the unrelated Hanford nuclear weapons cleanup project has been hit with layoffs and furloughs caused by forced federal budget cuts.

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