No. of Recommendations: 1
Pete writes: Vogtle 3 and 4 will be the most advanced nuclear plants in the country, and construction is well underway.


Vogtle 3 and 4 construction is underway, but I would not say "well" underway. They have already run into a delay of over a year out of a 5 year construction schedule.

One of the major problems was that they built the basemat foundation incorrectly. This required them to go to the NRC to get a design change (variance) to the approved design certification instead of ripping out the basemat. Finally the NRC granted the design change but with the new requirement that they use higher strength concrete which is more costly. This construction error took months to resolve.

Another major problem was the fabrication of the equipment and piping modules which were supposed to provide a shorter construction schedule, but instead have became another issue due to design, fabrication and quality problems.

These delays have caused Shaw (the construction contractor) to make reductions in the construction workforce.

The cost and schedule problems for Vogtle 3 and 4 were documented in a report by an independent inspector of the project as follows:

December 12, 2012

Construction of a first-of-its-kind nuclear power plant in Georgia will be delayed by more than a year, likely causing hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs, according to a report from a state-hired monitor.

In a report filed Friday, nuclear engineer William Jacobs Jr. said he believed the first reactor will be completed no earlier than June 2017. Jacobs cautioned that additional delays are possible.

“The cost of a one-year delay in the project is in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Jacobs, who monitors the construction project for Georgia’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.

Jacobs called the performance of the team designing and building the plant – Westinghouse Electric Co. and The Shaw Group –as “unsatisfactory” in some critical areas.

Jacobs said the construction of modules has slipped because of design, fabrication and quality assurance problems.

Shaw Modular Solutions, part of The Shaw Group, “clearly lacked experience in the nuclear power industry and was not prepared for the rigor and attention to detail required to successfully manufacture nuclear components,” Jacobs said.

The new units are scheduled to go into service in 2016 and 2017, but contractors have said they could be delayed by a year or more. The contractors and owners are in ongoing discussions to determine a new “commercial operation date” for the units.

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