Structural integrity and safety functions verified by series of critical tests
ATLANTA, July 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A major testing milestone on the Vogtle Unit 3 containment vessel's structural integrity and safety functions has been completed at Georgia Power's nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Georgia.
The structural integrity test and integrated leak rate test were completed in succession and demonstrated the containment vessel meets construction quality and design requirements. The containment vessel serves as a barrier to protect the public and surrounding communities by containing material produced inside the reactor vessel in the unlikely event of an emergency.
The structural integrity test called for the vessel to be pressurized for the first time and then closely monitored to confirm that it meets industry standards. While pressurized, each accessible weld seam on the containment vessel was inspected by specially trained inspectors.
The integrated leak rate test examined individual component and integrated systems to verify that the containment vessel and its isolation valves, piping and electrical penetrations, and hatches properly performed their intended safety functions. The integrated leak rate test will be performed periodically during the lifetime of the plant.
The completion of this containment vessel milestone marks progress toward hot functional testing and critical testing on the primary and secondary sides of the unit, which are required ahead of initial fuel load.
"The successful and safe completion of these major tests helps ensure our plant is built to the quality expected of a world-class nuclear facility and demonstrates our continued progress with testing," said Vogtle 3 & 4 Construction Executive Vice President Glen Chick.
2020 Key Milestones Achieved
- Placement of the final module for Unit 3 – The water tank that sits atop the containment vessel and shield building roof, known as module CB-20, is a major part of the AP1000 reactor's advanced safety system and will hold approximately 750,000 gallons of water ready to flow down in the unlikely event of an emergency to help cool the reactor.
- Placement of the Unit 3 integrated head package (IHP) atop the reactor vessel – Standing 48 feet tall, weighing 475,000 pounds and containing more than three miles of electrical cables, the IHP will eventually be used by highly-trained nuclear operators to monitor and control the nuclear reaction that will occur inside the Unit 3 reactor vessel.
- Completion of Open Vessel Testing for Unit 3 – This successfully demonstrated how water flows from the key safety systems into the reactor vessel ensuring the paths are not blocked or constricted, and confirmed the pumps, motors, valves, pipes and other components of the systems function as designed.
- Placement of the polar crane and containment vessel top for Unit 4 – This signifies that all major lifts inside the containment vessels for both units are now complete.
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.
Benefits to Customers
The new Vogtle units, with regulatory-approved in-service dates of November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4, 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.
New Aerial Photos Highlight Progress
Georgia Power has released new aerial photos showing the progress being made at the site of the nation's first new nuclear units in more than 30 years. Follow the progress through the Plant Vogtle 3 & 4 Online Photo Gallery and Georgia Power's YouTube channel.
About Georgia Power
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the company's promise to 2.6 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the company is consistently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/GeorgiaPower), Twitter (Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower) and Instagram (Instagram.com/ga_power).
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning the completion of construction and future operation of Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 and expected job creation. Georgia Power cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Georgia Power; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Georgia Power's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including extended disruptions to supply chains and further reduced labor availability and productivity, which could have a variety of adverse impacts, including a negative impact on the ability to develop, construct, and operate facilities, including, but not limited to, Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4; the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction, and operation of facilities or other projects, including Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, which includes components based on new technology that only within the last few years began initial operation in the global nuclear industry at this scale, and including changes in labor costs, availability and productivity, challenges with management of contractors or vendors, subcontractor performance, adverse weather conditions, shortages, delays, increased costs, or inconsistent quality of equipment, materials, and labor, contractor or supplier delay, delays due to judicial or regulatory action, nonperformance under construction, operating, or other agreements, operational readiness, including specialized operator training and required site safety programs, engineering or design problems, design and other licensing-based compliance matters, including, for nuclear units, the timely submittal by Southern Nuclear of the Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria documentation for each unit and the related reviews and approvals by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC") necessary to support NRC authorization to load fuel, challenges with start-up activities, including major equipment failure, system integration or regional transmission upgrades, and/or operational performance; the ability to overcome or mitigate the current challenges at Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, including, but not limited to, those related to COVID-19, that could impact the cost and schedule for the project; legal proceedings and regulatory approvals and actions related to construction projects, such as Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 and pipeline projects, including Public Service Commission approvals and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and NRC actions; under certain specified circumstances, a decision by holders of more than 10% of the ownership interests of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 not to proceed with construction and the ability of other Vogtle owners to tender a portion of their ownership interests to Georgia Power following certain construction cost increases; the ability to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses (including satisfaction of NRC requirements), to satisfy any environmental performance standards and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives, and to integrate facilities into the Southern Company system upon completion of construction; the inherent risks involved in operating and constructing nuclear generating facilities; the ability of counterparties of Georgia Power to make payments as and when due and to perform as required; the direct or indirect effect on Georgia Power's business resulting from cyber intrusion or physical attack and the threat of physical attacks; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other storms, droughts, pandemic health events or other similar occurrences; and the direct or indirect effects on Georgia Power's business resulting from incidents affecting the U.S. electric grid, natural gas pipeline infrastructure, or operation of generating or storage resources. Georgia Power expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward–looking information.
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SOURCE Georgia Power