Good Attendance at Stella Open House for Mockup of Cooper Nuclear Station’s Drywell
Officials of Cooper Nuclear Station were pleased with the response to the open house at its drywell mockup Thursday, Sept. 6.
“We’re glad to have everyone out here. We didn’t know what to expect. We’ve never had an open house like this,” said Andrew Niehaus, nuclear communications coordinator, Cooper Nuclear Station.
The mockup was recently completed at the former school in Stella. It is one-quarter size of the drywell at the station. Everything was built in there at a 1-to-1 ratio, Niehaus said.
“During our upcoming refueling outage, we will be replacing four fan coil units. There are a lot of challenges we’re going to face, whether it’s environmental or temperature. The big one will be congestion. It’s very crowded in there. We want to be able to get these out and get the new units installed safely, efficiently and with the least amount of dose as we possibly can,” Niehaus said.
Basically, the mockup allows staff to practice that work ahead of time. It also sets up the staff for success when they go to perform the actual work, he said.
The mockup is the only one of its kind in the United States, said Christopher Pelchat, day project manager.
The units being replaced are used for cooling in that area. They were the original plant equipment. Because the station was granted an additional 20 years of operation, the units needed to be replaced, Pelchat said.
In 2010, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed Cooper Nuclear Station’s operating license through 2034.
“The replacement needs to be orchestrated moving large components in and out. The old units will come out and we will move the new units in. The units are not accessible while we’re at 100 percent power,” Pelchat said.
“We wanted to recreate the conditions that the workers would be operating in, so we’ll be able to rehearse over and over and we can minimize dose. We wanted to figure out the best way to do it safely and efficiently,” Pelchat said.
Jeff Wagner, night shift project manager, said the current units at the plant are on an 18-month operating cycle. The replacement units will have a 24-month operating cycle, he said.
“We will let our workers practice in this area before we do it in the plant. It lowers our radiation exposure, and allows us to work out problems with our work plan in a no-dose, no-contamination environment,” Wagner said.