GA Nuclear Plant Closer to Construction

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 @ 01:08 PM gHale

Southern Company is expecting to begin full construction of two nuclear reactors by the end of this year, after getting a licensing schedule by nuclear safety regulators.

Significant site work is already underway for Vogtle 3 and 4, near Waynesboro, GA. The official start of construction of a nuclear power plant comes with the first pouring of concrete related to nuclear safety, but this will have to wait a few more months, Southern officials said. We “(can) see the finish line from here” as the licensing process moves into its final stages, said Southern President and Chief Executive, Thomas Fanning.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) told Southern it will be ready to issue a Final Safety Evaluation Report this month, and the public hearing process would take until around the end of 2011. The result should be a combined Construction and Operating License that will authorize full scale construction, commissioning and operation, subject of course to ongoing checks by the NRC.

New AP1000 units from Westinghouse will sit alongside two other pressurized water reactors from the same vendor built in the 1980s.

Excavation is now taking place for Vogtle 3 and 4 going up in Georgia next to the two existing reactors.

Excavation is now taking place for Vogtle 3 and 4 going up in Georgia next to the two existing reactors.

So far, Westinghouse and its partner Shaw cleared and excavated the twin-unit site, installing a materials warehouse and a covered module assembly building. Sections of the containment vessel bottom head are already on site for at least one of the units.

Two concrete batch plants are in operation with at least ten mixing trucks available to move the concrete around the site. They are laying out large sections of concrete pipework for cooling water circulation and foundations are in place for the heavy-lift derrick crane that each unit will need. Retaining walls mark out the future locations of the two nuclear islands.

Southern expects the construction workforce to peak at 3500 before the reactors start operation in 2016 and 2017. After that an 800-person staff will operate the plant. That will be in addition to the 900 that already work at units 1 and 2.

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