Columbia Generating Station
|Columbia Nuclear Generating Station|
|Location||Benton County, near Richland, Washington|
|Commission date||December 13, 1984|
|Licence expiration||December 20, 2043|
|Architect(s)||Burns & Roe|
|Reactors operational||1 × 1,170 MW|
|Reactor type(s)||BWR/5 with Mark-II containment|
|Reactor supplier(s)||General Electric|
|Generation units||Westinghouse Electric|
|Annual generation||8,109 GW·h|
|As of 2008-11-15|
The Columbia Generating Station, is a nuclear power station located 10 miles (16 km) north of Richland, Washington. Operational since 1984, it has been the only nuclear power station in the Pacific Northwest since 1992. It was built by the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, now known as Energy Northwest). It is owned and operated by a consortium of Pacific Northwest public utilities.
Design and function
The reactor core holds up to 764 fuel assemblies, and 185 control rods. The reactor is licensed for a power output of 3486 thermal megawatts (MWt). The gross electrical output of the plant is 1230 megawatts-electric (MWe).
The Columbia Generating Station features six low-profile fan-driven cooling towers. Each tower cascades clean warmed water, a byproduct of water heat exchanging with steam after leaving a turbine, down itself and subsequently cools the warmed water via a combination of evaporation and heat exchange with the surrounding air. Some water droplets fall back to earth in the process, thereby creating a hoar frost in the winter. At times, the vapor cloud from the cooling towers can reach 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in height and can be seen at a great distance. Replacement water for the evaporated water is drawn from the nearby Columbia River.
Construction began in late 1975, and after overrunning its budget by two billion dollars ($4.49 billion in present day terms) it began commercial operation in December 1984. Of the five commercial reactors originally planned by Bonneville Power Administration and WPPSS in the State of Washington, this reactor was the only one completed.
With the 1992 retirement of Oregon's Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, Columbia Generating Station became the only commercial nuclear power reactor remaining in the Pacific Northwest. In 1999, WPPSS changed its name to Energy Northwest, and later the plant's name was changed from WNP-2 (Washington Nuclear Power unit number 2) to Columbia Generating Station.
Columbia's original Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to operate was scheduled to expire in December 2023. In January 2010, Energy Northwest filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for an extension through 2043. In May 2012, the NRC approved the 20-year extension despite criticism from activists who were concerned about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
In 2011, Energy Northwest began evaluating potential use of mixed-oxide fuel as part of a study with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA. If Energy Northwest decided to use MOX fuel, there would be no operational changes until 2016.
In 2012, ratepayers spent $418 million for power from the Columbia Generating Station, power available for $218 million elsewhere; reasons for this, include its location and its personnel overhead, resulting in one-and-a-half times as many people per unit of energy produced.
- the plant’s cost of producing a megawatt hour since 2006 is about $36, roughly 1.5 times what efficient nuclear plants spend;
- the plant is the most costly nuclear plant of its kind in the country;
in 2012, ratepayers spent $418 million for power from the Columbia Generating Station, power available for $218 million. There are several reasons for this, including its location and its personnel overhead, resulting in one-and-a-half times as many people per unit of energy produced.
Columbia Generating Station's spent fuel pool is able to accommodate 2,658 fuel assemblies. It was designed as a short-term storage option until a national repository could be built and it is now filled to capacity. Since there is no projected date for operations start for the national long-term nuclear waste storage facility at the nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain Repository, obtained approval for dry-cask storage to avoid exceeding the pool's licensed capacity. The Columbia Generating Station has an on-site dry cask storage installation, which allows for storage of spent fuel rods in specially designed and manufactured casks. As of 2011, 27 casks have been loaded and stored in the installation, making room in the spent fuel pool for receipt of new fuel.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.
The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Columbia was 10,055, an increase of 10.4 percent in a decade. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 445,416, an increase of 23.4 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Richland (12 miles to city center) and Pasco (18 miles to city center).
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Columbia was 1 in 47,619, according to an NRC study published in August 2010. The Department of Energy is planning a new earthquake assessment that will update the last comprehensive one conducted in 1996. The U.S. Geological Survey has shown that the active faults of the Puget Sound Region are connected to ridges in the Mid-Columbia by faults that cross the Cascades.
- http://www.energy-northwest.com/generation/cgs/index.php[dead link]
- Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (2009). "Washington State Electric Utility Fuel Mix". Washington State Department of Commerce.
- "Columbia Generating Station - License Renewal Application". Reactor License Renewal. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2013. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- http://www.nukeworker.com/nuke_facilities/North_America/usa/NRC_Facilities/Region_4/wnp/index.shtml[dead link]
- Cary, Annette (May 25, 2012). "Columbia Generating Station license renewal celebrated, hated". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Cary, Annette (February 4, 2011). "Energy Northwest considers mixed plutonium fuel". Tri-City Herald. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- Jaquiss, Nigel (December 11, 2013). "Costly To The Core". Willamette Week. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
- Robert McCullough et. al (December 2013). "Economic Analysis of the Columbia Generating Station" (PDF). mresearch.com. McCullough Research. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
- "Used Fuel". Energy Northwest. Retrieved Sep 15, 2013.
- "Backgrounder on Emergency Preparedness at Nuclear Power Plants". Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
- Bill Dedman, Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors, msnbc.com, April 14, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42555888/ns/us_news-life/ Accessed May 1, 2011.
- Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk," msnbc.com, March 17, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42103936/ Accessed April 19, 2011.
- "DOE plans seismic analysis at Hanford". Tri-City Herald. April 12, 2012. Retrieved Sep 17, 2013.
- "Columbia Generating Station Flood Protection Final Report" (PDF). Nuclear Regulatory Commission. October 25, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
- Official plant website
- "Washington Nuclear Profile". U.S. Department of Energy. Sept., 2010.
- "Columbia Generating Station". Operating Nuclear Power Reactors. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. February 14, 2008.
- Robert McCullough et. al (December 2013). "Economic Analysis of the Columbia Generating Station". mresearch.com. McCullough Research.