Arkansas Nuclear One

The Arkansas Nuclear One (ANO) power plant, located a few miles west of Russellville (Pope County), is the state’s only operational nuclear power plant. Entergy Arkansas, Inc., owns and operates it. ANO is one of nine nuclear reactor sites owned and operated by Entergy Corporation.

In the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear power was found to be a clean and efficient source of electricity, and nuclear power plants began to be constructed nationwide. Arkansas’s first nuclear reactor, ANO-Unit One (ANO-1), went online commercially on December 19, 1974, bringing Arkansas into the nuclear age of power. On March 26, 1980, ANO-1 was joined by ANO-Unit Two (ANO-2). Bechtel Power engineered both units. Both are pressurized light water reactors.

The Babcock & Wilcox Company made the ANO-1 reactor, and Westinghouse made the generator. When the unit went online, it was listed with a capacity of 836 megawatts (MWe) of electrical output but was upgraded to 846 MWe. At the end of 2003, the unit was running at 91.2 percent capacity and generated 6,779,485 megawatt hours of energy. ANO-1’s current license, issued by the Atomic Energy Commission, expires on May 20, 2034.

Combustion Engineering made the ANO-2 reactor, and General Electric made the generator. When the unit went online in 1978, it was rated 858 MWe. It was upgraded in capacity to 930 MWe. As of 2008, the unit was running at eighty-three percent capacity and generated 6,113 million kilowatt hours of energy. In 2008, ANO-2 was averaging ninety-two percent of capacity, ranking it among the world’s highest in capacity utilization. Its 2008 output was 8,055 million kilowatt hours. The license for ANO-1 was to expire in 2014, and the license for ANO-2 was to expire in 2018, but both units have been approved for a twenty year extension by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The most notable feature on the 1,100-acre site is the 447-foot hyperbolic cooling tower, visible for miles. The plant uses the water from the 34,300-acre Lake Dardanelle (also known as Dardanelle Reservoir) for its cooling units. Lake water never touches the nuclear reactors and is not contaminated.

When the announcement was made that the first nuclear power plant in the Southwest United States would be in Russellville, Mayor C. A. Hughes was ecstatic. He called it the “event of the century” and stated, “this announcement today will be recorded [as] … possessing the greatest potential in the first 100 years of Russellville’s history.” ANO-1 ranks eighty-second in capacity on the Energy Information Administration (EIA) list of the largest power plants. Arkansas ranks nineteen out of the thirty-one states with nuclear power.

On March 31, 2013, a generator stator weighing one million pounds fell thirty feet while being moved; this dislodged several beams, one of which killed plant worker Wade Walters. In 2015, Arkansas Nuclear One earned the worst performance rating, out of all the nation’s nuclear power plants, from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, putting the plant in line for intensive inspections. By late 2018, the plant had improved its operations significantly.

For additional information:
“Arkansas Nuclear One.” Entergy Nuclear. (accessed July 27, 2023).

Cook, Marty. “Restoring Nuclear One.” Arkansas Business, November 12–18, 2018, pp. 1, 14–15.

Smith, David. “Nuclear One Earns Worst Rating.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 10, 2015, pp. 1G, 7G.

Maranda Radcliff
Fort Smith, Arkansas

William Tyrell Leeper
Waldron, Arkansas


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