US Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has lifted the shield building roof into place at unit 4 of the Vogtle nuclear powr plant, one of two Westinghouse AP1000 units under construction at the Waynesboro site.
The shield building offers additional safety around the containment vessel and nuclear reactor providing protection in the event of external impacts.
It has also completed the pre-operational condenser vacuum test for Vogtle 3's turbine system. This test is intended to ensure that the steam supply and water-cooling systems can operate together and can support hot functional testing and initial fuel load in the reactor. It required multiple systems, including circulating water, condensate, auxiliary steam and condenser air removal, to be operated in an integrated manner after having been successfully tested individually. Before the test could be performed, the turbine was tested and rotated on its turning gear. The main turbine system comprises a high-pressure turbine and three low-pressure turbines.
Earlier, on 10 December, Georgia Power took delivery of the first shipment of nuclear fuel for Vogtle 3, which is now being prepared for hot functional testing prior to fuel loading expected in April 2021.
Construction of Vogtle 3&4, the only nuclear power units under construction in the USA, began in 2013. The Vogtle project is years behind schedule, including recent setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both units were originally scheduled for operation in 2016. Vogtle 3 is now scheduled to begin operation in November 2021 and Vogtle 4 in November 2022.
Southern Company announced at the end of October a planned change of leadership to coincide with fuel loading. CEO Paul Bowers will step down in April and Chris Womack, executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company, will takeover.
Womack said his first priority will be “getting Vogtle 3 and 4 across the line”.
The Vogtle plant currently comprises two units (1&2) with Westinghouse 4-loop reactors which began operation in 1987 and 1989. Georgia Power owns 45.7% of the Plant along with Oglethorpe Power Corp, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and the City of Dalton Utilities, which own the remaining 54.3%.
The cost of the plant expansion has nearly doubled to $27 billion from the estimated $14 billion when it was approved 11 years ago.
Photo: The shield building roof has been lifted into place at Vogtle 4 (PRNewsfoto/Georgia Power)