Open Vessel Testing Complete for Vogtle Unit 3

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, May 4th, 2020

Open Vessel Testing, a major systems testing milestone, has been completed for Unit 3 at Georgia Power's Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Georgia, marking one of the most significant accomplishments in the project to date.

Open Vessel Testing has successfully demonstrated how water flows from the key safety systems into the reactor vessel ensuring the paths are not blocked or constricted. It also prepares Unit 3 for cold hydro testing and hot functional testing – both critical tests required ahead of initial fuel load. The milestone has confirmed that the pumps, motors, valves, pipes and other components of the systems function as designed.

Plant operators performed many of the tasks associated with Open Vessel Testing from the Unit 3 main control room, which began operating in December and is staffed around the clock.

"The completion of Open Vessel Testing is a major accomplishment for the project and brings us an important step closer to generating electricity for our customers as we continue the transition from construction towards system operations," said Vogtle 3 & 4 Construction Executive Vice President Glen Chick.

Key Milestones
Significant progress continues at the site with the project now 85% complete, and direct construction of Unit 3 now 90% complete. Major milestones achieved in recent weeks include the placement of the Unit 4 polar crane and containment vessel top, signifying that all major lifts inside the containment vessels for both units are now complete. 

Additional milestones achieved over the last few months include:

Operation of the Unit 3 main control room - Operators begin monitoring and controlling the technology and equipment essential for testing the unit's systems and safely starting the plant.

Placement of the Unit 3 shield building roof - The two-million-pound roof covers the top of the shield building, which provides an additional layer of safety around the containment vessel and nuclear reactor to protect the structure from any potential impacts.

Final concrete placement inside the Unit 3 containment vessel - Completing this milestone is an important step that allows for the installation of machinery that will be used to load fuel into the unit.

Historic milestones accomplished over the past year include:

Ordering the first nuclear fuel loads for both units 3 & 4. Consisting of 157 fuel assemblies with each measuring 14 feet tall, the fuel will eventually be loaded into the reactor vessels to support startup once the reactors begin operating.

Placing the containment vessel top heads for both units, marking that the project's final major lifts inside the containment vessels are complete. The containment vessel is a high-integrity steel structure that houses critical plant components.

Completing the first emergency preparedness drill for the new units, which includes a comprehensive review of the site's plans to ensure the protection of the public. The emergency preparedness plan specifies the response actions if the site were ever to experience an incident.

Finalizing Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees for the Vogtle 3 & 4 project. Through the company's $5.13 billion loan guarantee capacity with the DOE, Georgia Power customers are expected to save approximately $550 million in financing costs overall.

Completing the multi-year training necessary for the nuclear operators required for the new units, which culminated with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license exam. From the main control room, operators will monitor and control the technology and equipment essential for testing the unit's systems and safely starting the plant.

With more than 7,000 workers on site, and 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.

Follow the progress being made at the site with the Plant Vogtle 3 & 4 Online Photo Gallery and Georgia Power's YouTube channel.

Benefits to Customers
The new Vogtle units are an essential part of Georgia Power's commitment to deliver safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy for customers. Once operating, the two new units at Plant Vogtle will be able to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses and provide customers with a new carbon-free energy source that is expected to put downward pressure on rates for 60 to 80 years. A diverse fuel mix, including nuclear, is also essential to maintaining a reliable and affordable energy infrastructure that attracts new investment, supports economic growth and creates jobs.