BRIDGMAN, Mich., September 16, 2020 – Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 will begin its twenty-ninth refueling outage Saturday, September 19, at 3:00 a.m. Power will be reduced in the days prior to allow for equipment testing before the outage begins. The unit will have operated for 499 consecutive days at a capacity factor of 98.1 percent, generating 12,242,705 megawatt-hours of electricity. This is the third straight cycle that Cook Unit 1 consistently remained online between refueling outages, also known as a back-to-back, breaker-to-breaker run.
Cook Unit 2 remains at 100 percent power.
In addition to refueling the reactor and performing regular maintenance and testing work, the outage will also include upgrades to the main control room electrical distribution system, and inspections on the main generator that are required following a stator rewind project completed in the previous refueling outage in the spring of 2019.
About 900 contracted workers will supplement the regular 1,000-person plant staff leading up to and during the outage. More than 9,000 maintenance, inspection and equipment modification job activities totaling 137,000 work-hours are scheduled for two daily 12-hour work shifts. That’s a lot of work requiring a lot of people.
Expanding the workforce for refueling outages at nuclear power plants is a common activity, and there are well-practiced protocols every nuclear plant must follow for every outage. However, this particular outage for Cook Plant has presented new planning and preparation challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Cook has taken some extraordinary measures to protect the health and safety of employees, outage contract workers and the community.
“There were a number of nuclear facilities across the country going through refueling outages this past spring during the early stages of the pandemic,” explained Joel Gebbie, American Electric Power’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “Nearly all of them bring in a supplemental workforce of specialists to execute the work efficiently. Cook was one of the few plants that did not have a spring outage, but we knew we had one coming up in the fall. Having the benefit of time and hindsight, we’ve been able to look at the measures other facilities had put in place, combine that learning with the industry and health protocols that have been practiced and refined during the summer, and use it all to our advantage in order to be as prepared as we can be to prevent the virus from entering or spreading on our site.”
Cook Plant has taken numerous steps as part of their outage COVID-19 preparedness plan. Many of these step have been implemented since late spring. Some of these include:
- Testing all incoming contract workers for COVID-19 prior to the outage start
- Setting up rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities for on-site trace testing, if needed
- A self-screening protocol, including mandatory temperature checks for all personnel prior to entering the site’s protected area
- A strict policy for face covering and social distancing
- Installed numerous sanitizing stations throughout the site for access to wipes, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies
- Limited capacity in meeting rooms, elevators and other gathering spaces in order to maintain 6 feet of distancing
- Suspension of the plant cafeteria
- Installation of Plexiglas barriers at tables and other personal break area spaces to allow workers to rest and remove their masks safely
- Installation of several temporary buildings and conversion of non-traditional spaces to allow additional room for the workforce to be spread out
- A highly visible site communications campaign reminding all personnel to take their good health and safety practices with them wherever they go, on site and off
“We’ve spent the summer working closely with the American Electric Power and Indiana Michigan Power leadership, other nuclear plants, the health industry and the contract companies to put the best plan together to keep our workers safe, both on and off the job,” Gebbie said. “As our supplemental workforce has increased over the past few months, we’ve seen that the system we’ve implemented so far has been successful at keeping the virus from entering and spreading on our site. We expect that it will remain so throughout the duration of the outage.”
Cook Nuclear Plant is owned and operated by Indiana Michigan Power, an AEP company, headquartered in Fort Wayne, IN. At full capacity, the 1,084-net MW Unit 1 and 1,194-net MW Unit 2 combined produce enough electricity for more than one and one half million average homes. Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its approximately 2,100 employees serve more than 599,000 customers. More than two-thirds of its energy delivered in 2019 was emission-free. I&M has at its availability various sources of generation including 2,278 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan, 450 MW of purchased wind generation from Indiana, more than 22 MW of hydro generation in both states and approximately 15 MW of large-scale solar generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 2,620 MW of coal-fueled generation in Indiana.
For more information visit www.indianamichiganpower.com or www.cookinfo.com.
Cook Nuclear Plant
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