Plant Farley Steam FAQ

Normal day-to-day operation has caused some tubes in Farley's six steam generators (three per unit) to age and reach the end of their life sooner than planned. This is an ongoing maintenance issue in the nuclear industry and is not unique to Plant Farley.

Alabama Power Company voted in 1997 to replace all six steam generators at Plant Farley, with Southern Nuclear overseeing the purchase, delivery and installation. Replacing the aging generators is more cost-effective than continuing to repair them. The cost of repairing the generators has continued to escalate while the cost of replacing them has decreased. Replacing the steam generators will improve efficiency and support continued operation of Plant Farley.

Replacement of Unit 1's steam generators will begin on March 4, during a 68-day outage. Unit 2's steam generators will be replaced during the units Spring 2001 outage.

What is a steam generator?

steamgenA steam generator is a massive heat exchanger that converts water to steam to turn the turbine. Heat is transferred by the reactor coolant to the steam generator where it causes the feedwater to boil and produce steam. The reactor coolant does not boil because it is kept under high pressure, thus the term pressurized water reactor. Used steam is condensed and pumped back to the steam generator to be used again.

For more information on Southern Nuclear, contact Carrie Phillips, Public Affairs Manager, Southern Nuclear, at (205) 992-5168.

Overview of Replacement Process:

  1. During 1999, the Farley Nuclear Plant site was prepared for the arrival of the new steam generators. A storage facility was constructed to permanently house the old steam generators. An interim staging area was built where the new steam generators could be prepared for installation. And the barge slip and road leading from the river to the site were improved to support transporting these large, and extremely heavy pieces of equipment.
  2. The replacement steam generators are shipped from Spain to the United States in January. The generators are then loaded onto a barge in Panama City, and pushed by a tug boat 160 miles up the intracoastal waterway and the Chattahoochee River to the plant site. Once on plant property, the steam generators are transferred to a transport vehicle and moved to the interim staging area to prepare for installation during the scheduled refueling outage.
  3. Once the outage begins, the reactor is shut down and the fuel is removed. The fuel is stored in the spent fuel pool until it is time to reload the core and start up the plant.
  4. A temporary lifting device is brought into containment and is installed on the polar crane. The lifting device is designed to lift the 360-ton steam generators.
  5. The old steam generators are prepared for removal by severing the attached piping systems (feedwater, reactor coolant, main steam, etc.), lifting devices are installed and all other interferences are removed.
  6. The temporary lifting device is positioned over the old steam generator and lifting cables are attached. The old generator is lifted and positioned horizontally on a special transportation device for removal.
  7. The old generators are rolled out of containment through the existing equipment hatch opening and are lifted onto the transporter by an outside lifting system. This special transporter will move the generators to the storage facility.
  8. After all three generators have been removed and placed in the storage facility, the facility is permanently sealed.
  9. The new steam generators are installed using a reverse process.
  10. Once installed in containment and all systems are in place, the reactor core is reloaded and the plant is restarted.
General Facts
Manufacturer Westinghouse Design/ Equipos Nucleares S.A. (ENSA) fabrication, Spain
Installation Bechtel Power
Number of
3 steam generators per unit (6 total)
Weight Approx. 360 tons each
Height About 65 feet