Updated: Oct 8, 2021
Those old enough to live in the area remember in the early 80s the barrage of information from TVA and the Hamilton County Health Department as the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant came online. They told us about the pros of clean energy and the dangers of a nuclear reactor event. There was a strong push for everyone to maintain their potassium iodine tablets along with knowing your escape routes, especially after 3 Mile Island event, more recent Fukushima and Chernobyl.
The community leaders did a heavy push on educating the community, however in recent years the messaging has been sparse or non-existent. A number of new home owners don’t even realize they live in close proximity to a nuclear power facility. This should be covered in the disclosure agreement by developers/agents or rental agreements for our area especially given the age of the facility and its lifespan being extended. Here are a few facts about Sequoyah.
Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant FACTS:
Construction started in May 27th 1970
Reactor Unit 1 – Commission Date July 1, 1981
Reactor Unit 2 – Commission Date July 2, 1982
Shutdown in August 22, 1985 for Safety Concerns https://www.nytimes.com/1985/08/22/us/tva-citing-safety-to-shut-down-nuclear-plant.html
Restarted March 22, 1988
Produces approx. 1440 Mega Watts
Tritium detected in ground water monitors at Sequoya https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1100/ML110050288.pdf https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/news/story/2011/dec/21/tritium-detected-in-sequoyah-groundwater/66589/
Planned Decommission o Unit 1 Reactor – 2020 o Unit 2 Reactor – 2021
The NRC Filed an Exception to keep reactor running for 20 more years (renewed 09/28/2015) https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/19/2016-22486/tennessee-valley-authority-sequoyah-nuclear-plant-units-1-and-2
Amended License https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1802/ML18026A810.pdf
Reactor SCRAM Event Q4 2010 ( automatic unplanned shutdown )
Reactor SCRAM Event Q2 2011 https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/news/story/2011/dec/15/nrc-flags-sequoyah-plant-over-shutdowns/66203/
Reactor SCRAM Event Q2 2019 https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2019/20190415en.html
NEW Proposed Decommission Date 09/17/2040 (way beyond normal life) https://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/reactors/seq1.html
NOTE: The average lifespan of a nuclear facility is between 30-40 years because of structural and other issues. This would suggest Sequoyah SHOULD BE DECOMMISSIONED in 2021 instead of extending it 20 more years or build new reactors. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nuclear-power-plant-aging-reactor-replacement-/
Evacuation and Time Estimates ( last updated Nov 2012 – out of date for the area growth ) https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1236/ML12362A476.pdf
The age of the facility and its increasing reactor SCRAMs would lead the community to believe there is a safety concern brewing and could become very problematic in the coming years. It is also recommended to contact the Hamilton County Health Department for a family supply of Potassium Iodine tablets just in case there is an emergency. It will protect your lymph nodes from absorbing radiation during evacuation process. The tablets are only good for 4 years.
Please do additional research on your own, there are probably other events not highlighted and congress should allocate funds to build new reactors and decommission the existing ones. Newer reactors are much safer than older ones.
Nuclear Evacuation Map