Catawba Nuclear Station

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Catawba Nuclear Station
Catawba Nuclear Station-2.jpg
CountryUnited States
LocationYork, York County, South Carolina
Coordinates35°3.1′N 81°4.2′W / 35.0517°N 81.0700°W / 35.0517; -81.0700Coordinates: 35°3.1′N 81°4.2′W / 35.0517°N 81.0700°W / 35.0517; -81.0700
Construction beganMay 1, 1974 (1974-05-01)
Commission dateUnit 1: June 29, 1985
Unit 2: August 19, 1986
Construction cost$6.594 billion USD (2007)[1]
Operator(s)Duke Energy
Nuclear power station
Reactor typePWR
Reactor supplierWestinghouse
Cooling towers6 × Mechanical draft
Cooling sourceCatawba River
Thermal capacityUnit 1: 3469 MWth[2]
Unit 2: 3411 MWth[3]
Power generation
Units operational2 × 1155 MW
Make and modelWH 4-loop (ICECND)
Nameplate capacity2310 MW
Capacity factor97.98% (2017)
86.35% (lifetime)
Annual net output19,707 GWh (2017)
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

The Catawba Nuclear Station is a nuclear power plant located on a 391-acre (158 ha) peninsula, called "Concord Peninsula", that reaches out into Lake Wylie, in York, South Carolina, USA. Catawba utilizes a pair of Westinghouse four-loop pressurized water reactors.[4]

As a part of the Megatons to Megawatts Program Catawba was one of the plants that received and tested 4 fuel assemblies containing MOX fuel with the plutonium supplied from old weapons programs.[5] Because concerns of nuclear proliferation are greater with fuel containing plutonium, special precautions and added security were used around the new fuel. The four test assemblies did not perform as expected and at present those plans are shelved.[6]


In 2005, Catawba Nuclear Station's Unit 1 was selected to test four fuel assemblies containing mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, incorporating 140 kg of plutonium supplied from recycled nuclear weapons material. The MOX fuel pellets were supplied by the Cadarache reprocessing facilitiy, and placed into fuel assemblies at the Melox facility, both in France. This test was part of the "Megatons to Megawatts" program, which was part of the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement between the United States and Russia.[5]

Plant design[edit]

The Catawba Nuclear Station uses ice condensers as part of its emergency containment systems. A nuclear plant ice condenser is a passive, static heat sink that relies on large quantities of ice to mitigate severe accidents. Ice condensers are designed to limit pressure in the event of an accidental steam release. This design allows smaller containment structures and reduced material requirements.[7]


Surrounding population[edit]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 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.[10]

The 2010 population within 10 miles (16 km) of Catawba was 213,407, an increase of 53.3 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of the 2010 United States Census. The 2010 population within 50 miles (80 km) was 2,559,394, an increase of 25.0 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Charlotte, North Carolina (35 miles to city center).[11]

Seismic risk[edit]

In 2010, the NRC estimated the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Catawba was 1 in 27,027.[12]


15 May 2013[edit]

More than 100 gallons of water contaminated with radioactive tritium was released. However, the levels of tritium were less than one half the EPA limit for tritium and the leak was contained before it reached ground water.[13]

18 July 2017[edit]

After a 1-month standard inspection, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) found that Catawba Nuclear Station staff had failed to take preventive maintenance measures after an electrical component in one of the emergency diesel generators had failed a routine inspection test. As a result, the NRC increased oversight of the plant until the issue was corrected. This incident was concluded to be of low to moderate safety significance.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "EIA - State Nuclear Profiles". EIA. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Catawba Nuclear Station, Unit 1". NRC. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Catawba Nuclear Station, Unit 2". NRC. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Catawba Nuclear Station". South Carolina Nuclear Profile. U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel". World Nuclear Association. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  6. ^ Pavey, Rob (17 November 2009). "Duke Energy won't do more MOX tests". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  7. ^ "Maintaining Nuclear Plant Ice Condensers: A 'Cool' Responsibility". June 2018.
  8. ^ a b Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Overview". Archived from the original on 1 April 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017., PMPA. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Backgrounder on Emergency Preparedness at Nuclear Power Plants". Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  11. ^ Bill Dedman, "Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors", NBC News, 14 April 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  12. ^ Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk", NBC News, 17 March 2011.
    - "Memorandum about seismic hazard estimates" Archived 25 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine (PDF, 2 September 2010)
  13. ^ Dyches, Chris (2013). "Emergency Manager: No reason for concern after radioactive leak at nuclear station". WBTV. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  14. ^ Henderson, Bruce (18 October 2017). "Catawba nuclear plant on Lake Wylie to get extra federal oversight". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
    - "CATAWBA NUCLEAR STATION - NRC INSPECTION REPORT 05000414/2017012 AND PRELIMINARY WHITE FINDING" (PDF). NRC. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2018.

External links[edit]