Construction Timeline 1st Quarter 2012
Welcome back to the construction site of America's first nuclear energy facility to be built in 30 years! This project is historic on several fronts, and the most significant milestone to date was just reached!
"The memorandum and order authorizes the director of the Office of Nuclear Reactors to issue the limited work authorizations and appropriate licenses authorizing construction and operation of Vogtle units 3 & 4. Would you please affirm your vote?"
And with this momentous vote in February by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Southern Company was granted the first Combined Construction and Operating License, or COL, ever approved in the United States for the construction of a nuclear energy facility. Chuck Pierce, Southern Nuclear's Regulatory Affairs Director, explains the importance of this achievement.
"For the NRC to issue a COL it means the NRC has conducted a thorough review of the design of the plant and has determined the design is safe and meets all regulatory requirements."
Thanks Chuck. The COL represents today's streamlined licensing process for construction of new nuclear plants. The previous licensing methods often took a huge financial toll on companies trying to build nuclear energy facilities because of costly delays in approvals. The COL process is a significant improvement. But even with this more efficient process, work toward obtaining the COL for Vogtle units 3 & 4 actually began back in 2004 with applications for permits and approvals.
The NRC granted Southern Company an Early Site permit in August 2009 which allowed limited construction to begin, and that's what you've seen in these quarterly reports. Backfilling, preliminary work on the nuclear island, the two concrete batch plants, the office complex, the Module Assembly Building and other construction not related to the actual operation of the plant have been underway over the past two and a half years.
Now with the COL, we have authorization to move forward with work on the heartbeat of this new facility and begin construction of the AP1000 reactors.
This is an extremely significant event for the owners of the two new units, as well as for our customers, who have been involved in the process since the beginning.
"Customers played a huge role in this process participating around Waynesboro, Augusta, Burke County. There were numerous meetings and hearings where the NRC interviewed people on Southern Nuclear's relationships with customers. Customers spoke very positively of our operation of the 1 and 2 facility, the personnel support of the local communities, and they were very supportive of Southern Nuclear's continued construction of the facility at Vogtle 3 and 4."
"It starts with Georgia Power. We build the plant because Georgia Power has the need to serve our customers and that's what our business is all about so that's where it starts. The agent for doing this work for Georgia Power is Southern Nuclear Company, and the teamwork within Southern Nuclear to handle this has just been tremendous."
"It's a great time to do this project. We have many who have done the previous build and we have new engineers and new licensing folks working with them. So we're building for the long term - setting ourselves up for success."
Thanks Steve. It's estimated that an incredible 600,000 thousand work hours have gone into just the licensing work for this project so far! Support for the construction of the two new units here at plant Vogtle comes from all around the country, including the office of the President of the United States and Congress. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu visited the site here recently to congratulate Southern Company employees on receiving the first Combined Construction and Operating License in the U.S.
Dr. Steven Chu
"America has the opportunity to lead the world in clean energy technologies and provide a foundation for our future prosperity. What you're doing here at Vogtle will help us compete in the global clean energy race and provide domestic clean energy power for U.S. homes."
With the COL in hand, the Shaw Group, which is the construction contractor for the project, is ready to move forward - as is Westinghouse, the designer of the two AP 1000 reactors.
"Now that we have the COL you can see activity at the modular stations ramping up. If you look at the parking lot outside the modular assembly building, more and more people are coming in every day. We'll see more and more people in the nuclear island doing rebar installation. You can see behind me the containment vessel coming together from CBIâ€¦so the activity will pick up all over the site. Components are coming in from many states and countries, and are coming here on planes, ships, trainsâ€¦you're going to see the warehouses and receiving areas filling up quickly, so it's happening now!"
Thanks Tom. Our highly-trained, experienced, and dedicated employees are committed to reaching new levels of excellence. We remain committed to provide clean, safe, and reliable energy that will sustain and improve the quality life for our customers and their communities. Here at Plant Vogtle we're paving the way for the rebirth of nuclear energy in the United States with monumental accomplishments. It's no wonder that Southern Company was recently named the leading power company in the world at the Global Energy Awards Ceremony in New York! That's all for now. In our next report we'll come back out on site for updates on recent construction developments. We hope you'll join us then for the next Vogtle Timeline!