Vogtle-3 integrated head package set in place

Vogtle-3’s integrated head package. Photo: Georgia Power

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has placed the integrated head package (IHP) atop the Unit 3 reactor vessel at the Vogtle nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga., marking the latest major milestone in the construction of the first new U.S. nuclear reactors in more than 30 years.

Southern gives nod to NRC on violation at Vogtle

Southern Nuclear has accepted a “white” finding (one of low to moderate safety significance) and an associated violation notice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a problem at the company’s Vogtle nuclear plant, near Waynesboro, Ga. Earlier this year, Southern had contested the severity of the finding, arguing to no avail that the finding be more appropriately characterized as “green” (very low safety significance).

Vogtle work slows, but start dates remain

The Vogtle-3 containment vessel in March. Photo: Georgia Power

Despite its recent decision to trim the workforce at the Vogtle reactor construction project by about 20 percent to better address the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Company is confident that Units 3 and 4—twin AP 1000 pressurized water reactors—will be up and running according to schedule.

Pandemic prompts cuts to Vogtle construction workforce

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia Power Company is reducing the number of workers at its Vogtle-3 and -4 construction site, in Waynesboro, Ga., by approximately 20 percent, according to a recent joint Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company and parent firm Southern Company.

Georgia Power completes fuel order for new reactors

An overhead view of the inside of Vogtle-4's containment vessel in February. Photo: Georgia Power

Georgia Power, primary owner of the Vogtle nuclear plant near Waynesboro, Ga., has ordered the first nuclear fuel load for Vogtle-4, completing the initial fuel order necessary for the startup of the reactor, as well as its twin, Unit 3, the company announced on March 5.

First fuel loading at Vogtle Unit 3 scheduled for November

Vogtle Unit 3 (at left) is scheduled to begin operation in November 2021, one year ahead of Unit 4. Photo: Georgia Power

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced an opportunity to request an adjudicatory hearing regarding Southern Nuclear’s notice of intended operation of Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant, located in Waynesboro, Ga. The announcement was prompted by a January 13 letter from Southern Nuclear notifying the NRC of its scheduled date of November 23, 2020, for initial fuel loading at the reactor. As required under 10 CFR 52.103(a), the notification was made more than 270 days prior to the scheduled fuel load.

A combined license was issued for Vogtle-­3 and -­4, Westinghouse-­designed AP1000 pressurized water reactors, in February 2012. The license covers both construction and operation after construction is completed if standards—known as inspections, tests, analyses, and acceptance criteria (ITAAC)—identified in the combined license are satisfied. Operation will not be permitted until the NRC staff finds that all ITAACs have been met. However, if a hearing request is granted, the NRC can allow interim operation, given reasonable assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety while the adjudicatory hearing is carried out.