Southern Nuclear, operator of Georgia’s Vogtle plant, has informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that all 364 inspections, tests, and analyses for Unit 4 have been performed, and all acceptance criteria for the new reactor have been met. Primary plant owner Georgia Power made the announcement last Friday.
According to NRC regulations, once these actions—known as ITAACS—are successfully completed for a reactor, the licensee is required to submit an all-ITAACs-complete notification. Southern Nuclear submitted its notification to the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation on July 20. Agency staff must verify the claim before Unit 4 fuel loading is allowed to commence.
In its announcement, Georgia Power—which co-owns Vogtle with Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and Dalton Utilities—noted that preparations for Unit 4 fuel loading and startup continue. “All 157 fuel assemblies required for the operation of the Unit 4 reactor have been delivered to the site,” the utility stated. “Each fuel assembly measuring 14 feet tall was inspected and transferred to the new fuel storage racks before being placed into the spent fuel pool where all the assemblies will be stored until they are loaded into the Unit 4 reactor during fuel load.”
In case you missed it: On May 1, Georgia Power announced the completion of Unit 4’s hot functional testing, during which plant systems achieve normal operating pressure and temperature without nuclear fuel in the reactor to demonstrate that the systems will operate on an integrated basis as designed.
Commercial operation for Unit 4 is projected to begin between December 2023 and March 2024. Meanwhile, commercial operation at Unit 3—the other new AP1000 reactor at the Vogtle nuclear expansion site—was expected to begin last month but was delayed due to a problem in the hydrogen system used to cool the unit’s main electrical generator.