Operators at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant shut down the facility’s Unit 1 reactor Saturday for refueling.
In addition to replacing about a third of the reactor’s fuel, workers will also replace the reactor vessel head, a large component that sits atop the reactor that helps maintain pressure in the reactor and other functions.
Replacement of the vessel head is not expected to prolong the outage, which typically lasts about a month. The vessel head on the plant’s other reactor was replaced a year ago.
The vessel heads are the latest in a number of large components that have been replaced at Diablo Canyon. All of the plant’s steam generators were also recently replaced.
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In addition to the plant’s normal work force, more than 1,000 temporary workers have been hired for the outage. Workers perform a variety of maintenance and tests during the shutdown.
Diablo Canyon is owned by PG&E and provides about 10 percent of the state’s electricity or enough to power more than 3 million homes.