US Georgia Power said unit 4 at its Vogtle nuclear powr plant had begun integrated flush - the testing process that pushes water through the permanent plant system piping that feeds into the reactor vessel and reactor coolant loops.
“This is the latest in a number of significant milestones recently achieved at the Vogtle nuclear expansion project and marks another step towards operations”, Georgia Power said.
Earlier in January, Gorgia Power said that, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, "significant adjustments" had been made to work practices at the Vogtle 3&4 project site. Construction of Vogtle 3 began in March 2013 and Vogtle 4 in November 2014. Both units are Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power took over management of the project following Westinghouse's Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017.
Integrated flush represents a critical step and is key to helping ensure the safe start-up of Vogtle 4, marking the start of extensive testing ahead for the unit's systems. Over the next few months, site personnel at the project will work through this process to clean and test the system piping ahead of testing of unit 4. This will start with the chemical and volume control system and spent fuel pool cooling system, and continue into the reactor coolant system, the passive core cooling system, and the normal residual heat removal system as they are turned over from construction to the system operations teams.
Other recent milestones at Vogtle include the receipt of the first nuclear fuel assemblies for unit 3 in December. The site is now preparing for the last major test remaining for Vogtle 3, hot functional testing, ahead of initial fuel load. A Condenser Vacuum Test was conducted at unit 3 with the main turbine on. This is necessary to demonstrate the steam supply and water-cooling systems operate together and are ready to support hot functional testing and the initial fuel load.
Georgia Power said that, once operating, the two new units at Vogtle will be able to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses. With more than 7000 workers on site, and more than 800 permanent jobs available once the units begin operating, the Vogtle expansion is currently the largest jobs-producing construction project in the state of Georgia.
Vogtle 4's shield building roof was lifted into place in December (Photo: Georgia Power)