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Vogtle nuclear unit 3 gets final concrete placed inside reactor containment vessel

The only nuclear power plant construction project in the U.S. took another major step toward completion, the lead owner revealed this week.

Workers at Georgia Power’s Vogtle plant have completed the final concrete placement inside Unit 3’s containment vessel (pictured), which houses the unit’s reactor. Georgia Power is leading work on the $25 billion effort to expand Vogtle with two new reactor units.

Completing this milestone is an important step that allows for the installation of machinery that will be used to load fuel into the unit.

Last year, the company announced it had ordered the first nuclear fuel load for Unit 3, the first nuclear fuel order to be placed in more than 30 years for a newly designed reactor in the U.S. Consisting of 157 fuel assemblies with each measuring 14 feet tall, the fuel will eventually be loaded into the Unit 3 reactor vessel to support startup once the reactor begins operating.

Click here to see more stories about the Vogtle expansion project.

A total of 11,700 cubic yards – more than 22,000 tons – of concrete has been placed inside the Unit 3 containment vessel since construction began. In Unit 4, the final concrete placement of the operating deck has been completed, marking the last substantial concrete placement ahead of the containment vessel top lift in the coming months.

Vogtle Unit 4 vessel

Since the beginning of the project, more than 680,000 cubic yards of concrete have been placed for the new units, enough to build a sidewalk from Miami to Seattle, according to Georgia Power parent Southern Co.’s release.

In addition, the project workforce has reached an all-time high with approximately 9,000 workers now 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.

Georgia Power has released a new video of the nation’s only new nuclear units currently under construction.  From the removal of four million cubic yards of soil, to historic module and concrete placements, the video includes milestones throughout the project’s history. Once completed, units 3 & 4 are expected to generate enough electricity to power approximately 500,000 homes and businesses.

Bechtel was hired to complete construction of Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in 2017. Original contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy that year after taking big losses in its nuclear projects.

The two units are expected to be completed and commissioned in the next two years.

Nuclear energy generates nearly 20 percent of U.S. utility-scale electricity and more than half of domestic carbon-free power. Georgia Power’s partners in the Vogtle expansion include Dalton Power, MEAG Power and Olgethorpe.

Vogtle 3 and 4 will be powered by two Westinghouse AP1000 units able to generate about 1,117 MW each at capacity. These will be the first to use the AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor technology.

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Nuclear energy will be part of the Lowering Carbon in Thermal Generation track at POWERGEN International happening December 8-10 in Orlando. Click here to see the POWERGEN 2020 call for abstracts and how to submit your project.