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Bechtel Aids Historic Restart of Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Unit 1


The successful restart of Alabama’s first nuclear reactor capped a five-year project that included engineering and technical services provided by Bechtel Power, the U.S. leader in building and modernizing nuclear power plants.

Browns Ferry Unit 1 in Athens, Alabama, is the first nuclear reactor to come into service since 1996, when Watts Bar Unit 1 came on line in Spring City, Tennessee.

Owned by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Unit 1 had been dormant since 1985, when TVA took its units off line to fix management and operational issues. TVA had all its units in service by 1996, except for Browns Ferry 1. It was restarted today with a capacity of 1,155 megawatts, enough to light 650,000 homes with no contribution to global warming.

“This restart is a significant milestone for the U.S. nuclear industry,” said Jim Reinsch, president of Bechtel’s nuclear power business. “TVA’s achievements at Browns Ferry point toward the beginning of a nuclear renaissance that can meet the growing demand for energy in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. It proves to the financial community and other stakeholders that a large nuclear project can be built on schedule and within budget expectations.”

Bechtel Power previously worked on the restart of Units 2 and 3 at Browns Ferry in the early 1990s. In 2002, the company signed an agreement with TVA to help restore Unit 1. Bechtel provided detailed engineering, technical services, system testing, and start-up work for the $1.8 billion endeavor, one of the largest and most complex of its kind.

At the start of the project, Bechtel Power quickly assembled more than 500 engineers from inside and outside the company and developed an engineer mentoring program to integrate new employees. A Bechtel-TVA team developed a comprehensive database of all component and system work to track the project and keep it on schedule. The project included installation of some 150 miles of new cable and more than 6 miles of piping.

Bechtel Power has built the majority of nuclear power plants in the United States and has completed or reactivated other facilities in California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Bechtel is one of the world’s premier engineering, construction, and project management companies. Since its founding in 1898, Bechtel has worked on more than 22,000 projects in 140 countries. Bechtel Power Corp., a unit of Bechtel based in Frederick, Maryland, is the largest power contractor in the United States. For more information about Bechtel, visit


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