This rare 360-degree view inside Catawba Nuclear Station in York, S.C., reveals some of what happens during a power plant “refueling outage.”
Catawba Nuclear Station has been in operation since June 1985. And since then, every 18 months, one of the two units has shut down for a refueling outage. Nuclear units typically go through routine refueling during the spring or fall when the demand for electricity is at its lowest.
Currently, unit 1 at Catawba Nuclear Station is in a planned refueling outage. During a typical outage, up to 900 workers (including engineers, laborers, welders, pipe-fitters, crane operators and more) are on site to replace about one-third of the fuel in the reactor, conduct routine inspections and maintenance, and replace equipment ranging from valves to large components. The majority of the equipment being inspected or worked on is not easily accessible during normal operations.
This includes equipment like the turbine. Crews remove the turbine casing with a heavy-lift crane and place it on the floor. That gives them access to the turbine blades. They remove the rotor with the crane and inspect it for wear and tear, and perform preventive maintenance. During operation, the turbine spins at 1,800 revolutions per minute.
Once maintenance is completed, the turbine is reassembled, the casing reattached and the plant restarted — to provide power around-the-clock until the next refueling outage.
Enjoy this 360 view of Catawba’s turbine deck during the outage.