The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has submitted a letter needed to obtain operating license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the new 1,200MW unit 2 of Watts Bar nuclear power plant, located near Spring City, Tennessee, US.

The letter confirms that the construction of nuclear reactor is substantially complete, while outlining remaining key activities that will be finished prior to the start up of the reactor.

Prior to issuing operating license approval, the NRC requires TVA to substantially complete construction work of the facility, which should comply with environmental standards.

The TVA recently completed hot functional testing on the new unit 2, validating its safety and the station’s readiness for dual-unit operation.

During the testing, operators used the heat generated by plant to increase the temperature and pressure of almost 60 systems to normal operating levels and to turn up the unit’s main turbine to normal operating speed.

Watts Bar Operations and Construction senior vice-president Mike Skaggs said: "Completion of hot functional testing and submittal of the substantially complete notification are among the historic milestones that continue to be achieved at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant as Unit 2 is completed and tested the right way – safely, with quality and in a manner to ensure regulatory compliance and excellence in operations after licensing."

In addition, critical safety-related systems were also evaluated to demonstrate that they can help keep the reactor safely cooled.

The power station has successfully completed vessel testing, cold hydrostatic testing and secondary hydrostatic testing, validating its operations while complying with the NRC regulations.

Along with the operational Unit 1, the Watts Bar plant is expected to generate carbon-free electricity to power 1.3 million homes, when online.