US Georgia Power said on 23 November that it has received the water discharge permit for the new units being built at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia.

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Nuclear Operating Company, is building units 3 and 4 at Vogtle, both with Westinghouse AP1000 reactors.

In October the company said Vogtle 3 is scheduled to begin commercial operation in mid-2019 and Vogtle 4 in 2020. The new units are the first to be licensed and start construction in the USA in more than 30 years, and will supplement the plant’s two existing units.

The permit, issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, authorises the discharge back into the Savannah River of clean, re-circulated water used in power production "and sets guidelines for monitoring and reporting", Georgia Power said.

The announcement followed the completion of a concrete pouring for the turbine tabletop of unit 3 – the first turbine tabletop placement for a AP1000 reactor project in the USA. The tabletop is designed to support the weight of the heavy components including the generator and turbines.

Each AP1000 unit requires two steam generators, and on 19 November, Georgia Power announced that the fourth and final $1.3m steam generator had arrived at the Vogtle site from South Korea for unit 4. The steam generator arrived through the Port of Savannah and was transported to the construction site near Waynesboro, Georgia, by train.

Of the pressurised water reactors already in operation at Vogtle, unit 1 entered commercial operation in June 1987 followed by unit 2 in May 1989.

Photo: Vogtle 4 nuclear island in October 2015 (Copyright Georgia Power Company)