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.

Latest delay to Vogtle project may not be the last

December 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 (in foreground) and 4, in November. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has revised the projected commercial operation dates for Vogtle-3 and -4 a total of four times this year—most recently in October—but some experts are saying that at least one more delay is probable.

NRC heightens oversight at Vogtle-3 project

November 29, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
The Vogtle-3 turbine building (left) and containment (right) in October. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will increase its oversight of Vogtle-3—one of the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga.—after finalizing two inspection findings involving the unit’s safety-related electrical cable raceway system. Vogtle’s operator, Southern Nuclear, was informed of the decision in a November 17 letter.

The agency had launched a special inspection at Vogtle-3 in June of this year to determine the cause and extent of construction quality issues in the raceway system, which consists primarily of conduits and cable trays designed to prevent a single event from disabling redundant safety-related equipment.

NRC may step up scrutiny of Vogtle project

August 31, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (left) and -4 in June. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Oversight of the Vogtle nuclear new-build project will be increased if the preliminary conclusions in an August 26 Nuclear Regulatory Commission special inspection report are finalized.

Conducted from June 21 to July 2, the inspection looked into the cause and extent of construction-quality issues in the safety-related electrical cable raceway system at Vogtle-3.

Special inspection begins at Vogtle-3

June 23, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News
Vogtle’s Unit 3, earlier this month. Photo: Georgia Power

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special inspection at the Vogtle new-build site to identify the errors that necessitated construction remediation work on Unit 3’s electrical cable raceway system.

Vogtle-3 startup delayed until January as costs increase

May 20, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear News

The commercial start date for Unit 3 at the Vogtle construction site near Waynesboro, Ga., has been pushed back to January of next year, adding some $48 million to the cost of the nuclear new-build project, according to Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear officials who were testifying at a May 18 hearing before the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Vogtle-3 “likely” to miss scheduled start date, says Georgia Power

March 22, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

Vogtle-3's containment and turbine building. Photo: Georgia Power

Vogtle-3, the first of two 1,100-MWe AP1000 pressurized water reactors under construction at the Vogtle plant near Waynesboro, Ga., may not go into service in November as planned, Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has announced.

According to a March 19 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the date for starting commercial operation at Unit 3 could be delayed by a month or more at a cost to Georgia Power of approximately $25 million per month. “While [Vogtle plant operator] Southern Nuclear continues to target a November 2021 in-service date for Unit 3, the schedule is challenged and … a delay is likely,” Georgia Power stated. The filing made no mention of changes to Unit 4’s scheduled start date of November 2022.

NRC's RIC: A clear line of sight for accident tolerant fuel deployment

March 12, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

To nuclear fuel suppliers, today’s operating reactors represent a defined customer base with predictable demands. Utilities must order their next fuel reload far in advance of an outage; enrichers and fabricators work to fill those orders. Adapting such a highly optimized supply chain to accommodate new products—fuels with new materials, claddings, and higher enrichments and burnups—will require alignment between all parties involved to meet the associated research, enrichment, manufacturing, regulatory, transportation, and operating experience needs.

That was the consensus during “Current Accident Tolerant Fuel Environment,” a technical session held on March 9 during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's four-day Regulatory Information Conference (RIC, March 8-11). The session was chaired by NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson, who was taking part in his first RIC as a member of the commission.

Framatome declares ATF test at Vogtle a success

February 8, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The $111.2 million in financial assistance awarded by the Department of Energy in late 2018 to nuclear fuel developers Framatome, General Electric, and Westinghouse for the development of accident tolerant fuel has yielded some encouraging results.

Framatome reports that the first 18-month fuel cycle test of its GAIA Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology, conducted at Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle-2, has “demonstrated expected results and excellent performance.”

And last month, Westinghouse announced that the topical report on its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology fuel has been accepted for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling the decision “a major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing.”

More adjustments to Vogtle milestone dates likely

January 13, 2021, 3:08PMNuclear News

The initial shipment of nuclear fuel for Unit 3 arrives at the Vogtle site in December. Photo: Georgia Power

Largely as a result of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, the Vogtle reactor-construction project team expects to further adjust dates for achieving key project milestones, including the start of hot functional testing and fuel load for Unit 3, Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power announced on January 11.

The company added, however, that it continues to expect to bring Unit 3 into service this November and Unit 4 into service in November 2022. Additional updates on the project will be provided during Southern’s quarterly earnings call next month.

First fuel shipment for Vogtle-3 delivered

December 14, 2020, 9:35AMNuclear News

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has announced the receipt of the initial shipment of nuclear fuel for Vogtle-3, characterizing the event as a “major step” for the two-unit nuclear expansion project currently under way at the Vogtle nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Ga.

Next step: With the receipt of the first nuclear fuel assemblies, the project is now focused on one of the major milestones for Unit 3, hot functional testing, the last critical step before fuel load and, ultimately, in-service operation, Georgia Power said.

In October, Vogtle plant operator Southern Nuclear announced a readjustment of its July 2020 “aggressive site schedule” dates for Unit 3 hot functional testing, fuel load, and commercial operation. The dates were moved from October 2020, December 2020, and May 2021, respectively, to January 2021, April 2021, and the third quarter of 2021. Southern Nuclear said that hot functional testing could start as late as the end of March 2021 and fuel load as late as mid-year 2021 without jeopardizing Vogtle-3’s November 2021 regulatory approved in-service date.

Vogtle project team reports delays, holds to approved start dates

October 28, 2020, 9:46AMNuclear News

In testimony filed last week with the Georgia Public Service Commission, Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear acknowledge that the “aggressive” target dates set in July for some of the Vogtle construction project’s upcoming milestones have had to be pushed back by a few months. At the same time, however, the companies continue to express confidence in being able to meet the regulatory-approved commercial start dates for the new reactors—November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4.

The testimony was filed in support of Georgia Power’s Twenty-third Semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report, released in August, which covers the period from January 1 to June 30, 2020.