New Projects, Nuclear, Reactors

Final module for Vogtle nuclear expansion project has arrived

The final major module needed for the Vogtle units 3 and 4 nuclear power project has arrived at the $25 billion construction site in Georgia.

Lead utility Georgia Power announced the delivery of the module last week. Thus, all 1,485 major modules required to complete the Vogtle construction are built and on site, according to the report.

Since work began in 2011, trains and trucks have delivered the major modules to the site for eventual assembly in floors, walls and support structure. Some of the modules became containment structures and a 20-room building for critical components, according to the release by Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co.

In addition, several milestones for Unit 4 have recently been achieved including the second of four concrete placements for the operating deck inside the containment vessel. The placement of 58 cubic yards of concrete forms a 2-foot-thick floor in support of the loading and staging of equipment inside containment in preparation for the third containment ring and top head placements. To date, more than 667,000 cubic yards of concrete have been placed for units 3 & 4, enough to build a sidewalk from Miami to Seattle.

Workers recently set the Integrated Head Package (IHP) on its stand on the operating deck inside the Unit 4 containment vessel. Weighing 475,000 pounds, standing 48 feet tall, and containing more than three miles of electrical cables, the IHP will sit atop the reactor vessel during normal operations and is the integral piece used in monitoring and controlling the nuclear reaction that will occur.

The project workforce remains at an all-time high with approximately 8,000 workers on site. With more than 800 permanent jobs available once the units begin operating, Vogtle 3 & 4 is currently the largest jobs-producing construction project in the state of Georgia, according to the utility.

The Vogtle Units 3 and 4 addition has run into multiple snags along the way, including cost overruns and environmental opposition. Some owners of the only U.S. nuclear reactor construction project ongoing actually considered abandoning it last year, but moved ahead with financing and encouragement from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Georgia Power leads the project ownership, which also includes Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities. The DOE has given close to $12 billion in loan guarantees for the project.

Utility officials hope to complete the Vogtle expansion and have it commercially operational sometime in the first half of the 2020s, according to reports.

Nuclear power, which does not produce carbon emissions, currently accounts for 19 percent of the U.S. electricity generation fuel mix.