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Ameren makes $150 million improvement to nuclear power plant

Ameren Missouri is taking on a multimillion-dollar project at its nuclear power plant near Fulton. The energy company is spending around $150 million to replace the head that fits on the nuclear reactor.

Callaway Energy Center usually puts out enough energy to power around 700,000 households each year, but since mid-October the nuclear power plant has been offline.

“Certain systems have to be shut down in order to do maintenance or modifications on them and our refueling outage allows us to do those particular those type of maintenance activities,” said Barry Cox, senior director of nuclear operations for Ameren.

Every 18 months the Ameren-owned nuclear power plant goes offline for maintenance and refueling. Ameren is taking the opportunity this time to replace the nuclear reactor head. The new $150 million piece of equipment will replace the original one that has been on the reactor since the plant opened 30 years ago.

“The assembly is very complex. There’s a crew of about 60 people — actually that put the thing together. Then once it’s all together it has to be tested (to make sure) everything’s functioning the way it’s supposed to function. So, it’s a complex thing to accomplish,” said Shannon Abel, director of engineering projects for Ameren.

Ameren engineers said the nuclear power plant has also almost completed its license renewal process. The renewal will enable the plant to operate until 2044. Administrators said its a long process that includes safety inspections from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

“They came out and they did six weeks worth of inspections to make sure that all of our programs were exactly the way that we had reported to validate that we’ve included all of the required equipment and then they complete their documentation review,” said Sarah Covaleski, director of engineering design for Ameren.

Ameren administrators expect the final decision on the license renewal from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency by the end of the year.

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