Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station

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Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station

The Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Erie near Monroe in Frenchtown Charter Township, Michigan. It is approximately halfway between Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. Two units have been constructed on this site. The first unit's construction started in 1963, and the second unit reached criticality in 1988. The plant is named after the Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, most noted for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor as well as many other major contributions to nuclear physics. Fermi won the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity. On October 5, 1966 Fermi 1 suffered a partial fuel meltdown, although no radioactive material was released. On August 8, 2008, John McCain was taken on a 45-minute tour of the plant, becoming the first actively campaigning presidential candidate to visit a nuclear plant.

Fermi 1
The 94 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor Fermi 1 unit under construction and development at the site from 1957 to 1972. On October 5, 1966 Fermi 1 suffered a partial fuel meltdown. According to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there was no abnormal radiation release to the environment. The main cause of the temperature increase was a blockage in one of the spigots that allowed the flow of cooled liquid sodium into the reactor. The blockage caused an insufficient amount of coolant to enter; this was not noticed by the operators until the core temperature alarms sounded. Several fuel rod subassemblies reached high temperatures of around 700 °F (370 °C) (with an expected range near 580 °F, 304 °C), causing them to melt. Following an extended shutdown that involved fuel replacement, repairs to vessel, and cleanup, Fermi 1 continued to operate intermittently until September 22, 1972, but was never again able to reach a fully operational state. It was officially decommissioned December 31, 1975. It is currently in SAFSTOR with a gradual "final" decommissioning in progress. There is some debate about whether the details of the accident as written in the book Fermi-1 New Age for Nuclear Power and published by the American Nuclear Society in 1979 are completely accurate. Several of the claims in the ANS's account are contradicted by certain parts of We Almost Lost Detroit , a book written by local Detroit newsman John Grant Fuller (subtitled "This Is Not A Novel").

Fermi 2
Fermi 2 is a 1,098 net MWe General Electric boiling water reactor owned by DTE Energy and operated by subsidiary Detroit Edison. It was opened in January 1988 and is currently in operation. On June 6, 2010 a weak tornado touched down and damaged the Fermi 2 generator building and forced an automatic shutdown leaving over 30,000 people without power in the area. The plant is connected to two single-circuit 345 kV Transmission Lines and 3 120 kV lines. They are operated and maintained by ITC Transmission.

Fermi 3
In September 2008, Detroit Edison filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for a third reactor. The new unit is supposed to be built on the same site, slightly to the southwest of Fermi 2. The reactor design selected is the 1,520 MWe GE-designed passive Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). Review of the 17,000-page application could take four years, after which construction could take six years. The cost is estimated at as much as 10 billion dollars. CEO Anthony Earley said that DTE's analysis "so far shows that nuclear power will, over the long term, be the most cost-effective baseload option for our customers, ... We expect nuclear to remain the low-cost option, but we will continue to evaluate nuclear against other resources and will commit to proceeding with construction only at the right time and at the right cost". In March 2009, a coalition of citizen groups asked federal regulators to reject plans for Fermi 3, contending that it would pose a range of threats to public health and the environment. The groups have filed 14 contentions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, claiming that a new plant would pose "radioactive, toxic and thermal impacts on Lake Erie's vulnerable western basin." This proposed plant should not be confused with the original Fermi 3 project which was to be a companion unit identical to Fermi 2. The original Fermi 3 was ordered in 1972 and cancelled in 1974. See DOE data page 67 and WNA Fermi 3 data.

The plant is operated by the Detroit Edison Company and owned (100 percent) by DTE Energy.

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