Vogtle-4 plant in home stretch, connects to grid

March 4, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle-4. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Vogtle Unit 4 synchronized and successfully connected to the electric grid on March 1, just two weeks after reaching initial criticality.

This milestone is one of the final steps to completing Southern Nuclear’s long-awaited Vogtle project, adding the second of two large-scale reactors to the United States’ fleet in as many years—the first such additions to that fleet in more than three decades.

Vogtle-4 startup delayed to Q2

February 5, 2024, 3:31PMNuclear News
Vogtle -4 in a photo posted in May 2023. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The long-awaited fourth unit at Plant Vogtle has hit another delay.

Atlanta-based Southern Co. announced last week that vibrations in the cooling system in Unit 4 require additional work that will push the reactor’s start date from the first quarter this year to the second quarter. The company said the problem is already fixed, but there is too much additional testing needed to meet a first quarter deadline.

Implementation of advanced PRIME fuel features

October 17, 2023, 9:42AMNuclear NewsVictoria Fitz, Bradley Balltrip, Matthew Leonard, Matthew Lynch, and Raymond Flanery

Operating costs for nuclear units have grown significantly since the start of the commercial nuclear power industry. For nuclear power generation to remain competitive, process efficiencies and innovations will need to be introduced. The challenge for any change is to improve the safe operation of the nuclear unit. An area of opportunity to reduce operating costs while improving operational safety is through upgraded fuel design and manufacturing. At Southern Nuclear, the pressurized water reactor fuel engineering team worked with Westinghouse to implement the PRIME fuel features, where simple improvements would yield safer operation and long-term cost-savings due to a more robust fuel design. Implementing the PRIME fuel ensures that the operator’s burden from fuel performance is minimized while keeping the reactor unit in a safe operating condition.

Vogtle-2 okayed for ATF enriched to 6 percent

October 2, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Southern Nuclear last Friday announced that its Vogtle Unit 2 reactor has become the first U.S. commercial reactor to be authorized by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use accident tolerant fuel exceeding 5 percent uranium-235 enrichment.

Vogtle-4 fuel load started

August 18, 2023, 12:58PMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 reactor cavity in July. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has begun the process of loading fuel into the Vogtle plant’s Unit 4 reactor, the company announced yesterday, marking another pivotal milestone toward commercial operation of the second of the facility’s two new units.

Vogtle-3 begins commercial operation

July 31, 2023, 12:39PMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (Photo: Georgia Power)

To the ears of the nuclear community, the news from Georgia Power this morning may sound a bit like “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth: After years of delay, Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation, becoming the first newly constructed power reactor in the United States in more than 30 years and the nation’s first Westinghouse-supplied Generation III+ AP1000 unit to be placed into service. The new unit joins Vogtle-1 and -2—1,169-MWe four-loop pressurized water reactors that entered commercial operation in the late 1980s.

Southern Nuclear given go-ahead for Vogtle-4 fuel load

July 31, 2023, 10:41AMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 control room. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized Southern Nuclear Operating Company to begin loading fuel into Unit 4 at the Vogtle nuclear expansion site near Waynesboro, Ga., making the unit the second reactor to reach this milestone in the agency’s combined license process—a little less than one year after Vogtle-3. (Prior to 1989, reactors were licensed under a two-step process, requiring both a construction permit and an operating license.)

All ITAACs for Vogtle-4 completed

July 24, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle’s Unit 4 reactor in June. (Photo: Georgia Power)

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.

Vogtle-3 connects to grid

April 3, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in February. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has been successfully synchronized and connected to the electric grid, Georgia Power announced on April 1. The unit—one of two Westinghouse-supplied AP1000s at the Waynesboro, Ga., plant’s nuclear expansion site—becomes the first new U.S. power reactor to start up in seven years.

Westinghouse’s ADOPT 6-percent enriched U fuel nears U.S. deployment

March 17, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
(Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company announced on March 14 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the use of the company’s Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPT) fuel pellets in U.S. pressurized water reactors. That approval brings the company closer to loading lead test assemblies containing ADOPT accident tolerant fuel pellets in Unit 2 of Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle plant.

A review of workforce trends in the nuclear community

February 3, 2023, 3:01PMEdited February 3, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News

The nuclear community is undergoing a moment of unprecedented interest and growth not seen in decades. The passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act are providing a multitude of new funding opportunities for the nuclear community, and not just the current fleet. A mix of technologies and reactor types are being evaluated and deployed, with Vogtle Units 3 and 4 coming on line later this year, the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Projects of X-energy and TerraPower, and NuScale’s work with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to build a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor, making this is an exciting time to join the nuclear workforce.

University of Tennessee offers inspiration with inaugural NEDHO Diversity Panel

January 18, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
Wes Hines (right), of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, introduces the speakers for a session on nuclear engineering opportunities. (Photos: University of Tennessee)

The University of Tennessee–Knoxville Department of Nuclear Engineering hosted the inaugural Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) Diversity Panel on October 27. Wes Hines, head of the university’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, was the moderator for the event. Invited to the speak were engineering professional Harold T. Conner, environmental scientist Dari Gabriel, and engineering student Jasmine Toy. These three panelists discussed overcoming challenges in their engineering education and/or careers to find success. A common theme that emerged from the conversation was that—in addition to their own determination to succeed—all three panelists benefited from caring adult guidance during their youth, as well as strong support from friends, family, and colleagues as they pursued their goals.

Southern Company makes executive appointments

January 12, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
From left: Womack, Greene, and Sena. (Photos: Southern Company)

Southern Company has appointed Chris Womack chief operating officer effective immediately and president as of March 31. Tom Fanning will relinquish the role of president upon Womack's assumption of the role in March and is to assume the role of executive chairman of the board of directors.

Womack has served as president of Georgia Power since 2020 and chairman, president, and CEO since 2021. Prior to his current roles, he served as executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company.

"Chris's leadership, vision, and integrity during his career with Southern Company have uniquely prepared him to guide Southern Company into a new era," said Fanning. "With our recent progress at Plant Vogtle and continued conversion of our operations towards net zero emissions, I believe that now is an ideal time to transition to new leadership."

The moves were announced by the company's board on January 5.

Framatome’s accident tolerant fuel system successfully completes second cycle at Vogtle

October 27, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News
Framatome’s GAIA fuel assembly with Protect EATF technologies. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome has completed the second 18-month cycle of its GAIA Protect Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology at Vogtle’s Unit 2 in Waynesboro, Ga. Inspections afterward revealed that the full-length chromium-coated fuel rods maintained their original characteristics, while the chromia-enhanced pellets operated as designed during 36 months of reactor operation.

Vogtle-3 fuel load has begun

October 14, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Vogtle Unit 3 in September. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power announced this morning that fuel loading at Vogtle-3 has commenced, marking an important milestone on what has proved to be a long and bumpy road to startup and commercial operation of the first new nuclear power reactors to be built in the United States in more than three decades. (Major work on the Vogtle-3 and -4 project began in 2012, with a price tag of $14 billion and scheduled unit start dates of 2016 and 2017. The project’s total cost is now expected to exceed $30 billion.)

Southern plans second license renewal for Hatch

September 2, 2022, 7:04AMNuclear News
The twin-unit Hatch plant (Image: Southern Nuclear)

Southern Nuclear, operator of the two-unit Hatch nuclear plant, announced yesterday that it will seek subsequent license renewals (SLR) for both reactors.

NRC okays fuel loading at new Vogtle unit

August 4, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Unit 3 at the Vogtle site in July 2022. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized Vogtle plant operator Southern Nuclear to load fuel and begin operation at Unit 3—the first reactor to reach this point in the agency’s combined license process. (Prior to 1989, reactors were licensed under a two-step process, requiring both a construction permit and an operating license.)

Vogtle-2 to test Westinghouse fuel enriched to 6 percent

January 31, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
ADOPT fuel pellets developed by Westinghouse through the DOE's Accident Tolerant Fuel Program. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Southern Nuclear have agreed to a plan to install four Westinghouse lead test assemblies in Vogtle-2, a 1,169-MWe pressurized water reactor located in Waynesboro, Ga. Four lead test assemblies containing uranium enriched up to 6 percent U-235 will be loaded in Vogtle-2 in 2023, marking the first time that fuel rods with uranium enriched above 5 percent U-235 are put in use in a U.S. commercial power reactor.