Insights > River Bend Station Successfully Completes 21st Refueling and Maintenance Outage
River Bend Station Successfully Completes 21st Refueling and Maintenance Outage
Entergy’s River Bend Station nuclear power plant returned to service Saturday, March 20, following a successful scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.
“I am proud of the site’s performance during our 21st refueling outage,” said Steve Bibb, River Bend outage manager. “The team executed our plan successfully, allowing us to operate another cycle and provide safe, clean and reliable power to our customers.”
River Bend, located in St. Francisville, La., is a boiling water reactor with General Electric turbines and mechanical draft cooling towers with make-up water from the Mississippi River. The station began commercial operation June 16, 1986, and celebrated 34 years of safe and reliable operations in June 2020. At 974 megawatts, River Bend produces approximately 10% of the total energy demand of Louisiana. The station boasts a team of more than 870 highly trained and dedicated nuclear professionals, committed to their plant and community.
What is a refueling outage?
Just like fueling up a vehicle, nuclear plants require refueling approximately every 18 to 24 months. Refueling outages are typically scheduled in the fall or spring when power demand is lower.
Refueling outages begin when plant operators take the unit offline, and the work begins. The team replaces a third of the fuel in the reactor, shuffles current fuel rods and replaces the removed fuel with new fuel. The new fuel will operate in the reactor for three cycles. A cycle refers to the time between outages. The used fuel that is removed is considered spent fuel and moved to the spent fuel pool where it is stored and then is moved to a concrete dry storage cask.
While the unit is offline, the team completes maintenance work and other projects to improve reliability. Every detail of a refueling outage is meticulously planned and everyone plays a role. Major projects are planned years in advance, with all the work reviewed and approved long before the outage begins.
Supplemental personnel are brought in through contracting companies to complete specialty work and assist in the workload that an outage requires.
Just like regular maintenance on a vehicle, refueling outages ensure the plant runs safely and reliably, so we can continue powering life for Entergy customers.
Entergy Nuclear owns, operates, supports and provides management services to a national fleet of eight reactors in seven locations, generating approximately 8,000 megawatts of zero-carbon nuclear power. With approximately 6,000 nuclear employees in multiple states, Entergy is also recognized globally as a provider of nuclear services to companies in the U.S. and worldwide.