Construction Timeline 4th Quarter 2013
It's hard to believe it's been more than two years since we began to see Vogtle 3 and 4 rise from the landscape, here near Augusta, GA. What a busy and productive year this has been! Year to date, over 4 million work hours have been logged at this site. Needless to say, there's never a quiet moment around here. Let's check in with Buzz Miller, president of Southern Nuclear Development, for an update on what's been achieved so far in 2013.
2013 has been a fabulous year for this project. We have made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts. As most of our employees and people know, we have three main focus areas. First, as always, is to build this plant safely and with a quality-built end. We have to do it right. Secondly, is to make sure we do all the prudent things we need to do to get recovery of this project from our public service commission. And the third thing is, get ready to run this plant.
On the building of this plant safely and in a quality manner, we are just proceeding along in rapid fashion. We have poured the basemats this year for both units 3 and 4, which is a fantastic accomplishment. We have started turbine building construction, and we're going vertical on Unit 3. Unit 4 turbine building is proceeding. The cooling towers are proceeding well. So, we're very happy with where we are.
The next big milestone will be setting CA20, which is about an 1,100-ton module, and as we speak, we're finishing assembly of that module.
So in summary, the progress we've made this year will carry over into next year. We are on track to bringing these units online in 2017 and 18. We're on track for loading fuel in Unit 3 in 2017. And so, the project is on a path for success to bring incredible benefits to our customers.
2013 has been a very busy year, indeed. Major milestones are reached on a weekly basis, and all of the pieces are beginning to come together as we continue to see great progress here at Plant Vogtle.
Let's look back at some of the highlights.
In March of this year, we saw the placement of the first nuclear concrete for Unit 3, creating a six-foot thick basemat foundation. A team of 500 workers completed the task over the course of 41 consecutive hours. Almost 7,000 cubic yards of concrete were used to create the basemat.
In April, the CR10 cradle was the first major module component to be lifted and set in place on the site.
Over the summer, the placement of the containment vessel bottom head for Unit 3 took place, consisting of 58 steel plates and weighing approximately 900 tons. This was one of many big lifts accomplished.
The cooling towers have continued to rise upwards, day by day. The Unit 3 cooling tower is now more than 107 feet high, and Unit 4 is not far behind, as the fifth and final lift for the central riser will soon be put in place.
Various components are delivered on a routine basis now. This year, we saw the arrival of the reheaters, deaerators for both units, and most recently, the transformers which arrived on our rail system and were lifted onto crawlers to be stored until ready for placement. Just recently, the Unit 3 condenser and CA04 module were set in place. CA04 will house the nuclear reactor for Unit 3.
Wow! It's been a busy year, but the work doesn't slow down as we continue to make great progress. In fact, just last month, the basemat concrete for Unit 4 was completed in preparation for the containment vessel bottom head placement.
Let's go to David Keech, construction and compliance manager, for more details.
The planning for the Unit 4 basemat placement began even before we finished Unit 3 basemat. Some of the things that would have went into that one: the resources the consortium used, the timing, the schedule; but additionally, the lessons learned that we were able to pull from the Unit 3 basemat.
It's not just about construction over here. While dramatic things are happening daily on the site, there's also a core team of plant operators, training on all digital systems controls to operate units 3 and 4.
The AP-1000 is the latest in nuclear technology. This will not only be among the first nuclear generating facilities constructed in this country in three decades; it will also be the first to use all digital controls to operate/ monitor the plant's systems.
Here's Kris Honomichl, Vogtle 3 and 4's digital systems project manager, with more on this unique feature:
So, the traditional plants like Vogtle 1 and 2 operate mainly on analog systems. Now, Vogtle 3 and 4… it will be all digital. And the comparison that I use with a lot of people is… the analog clock vs. a digital clock. The analog clock you have the minute hand and the second hand and the hour hand, and you may or may not know exactly what time it is. It may show 2:10 or 2:11. Whereas, a digital clock… you know exactly what time it is, and you'll know exactly down to the unit because it is that precise.
One of the biggest advantages of having all digital systems is that it's easy to operate for the operators. So, my rule as a digital systems project manager is all oversight. My group provides oversight of the vendors and the sub-vendors providing us with digital systems. That starts with the design faze; to the testing faze; to the shipping faze; to the installation faze; and back through testing again. We have to make sure that the digital systems that we get are for the licensing basis and they do meet regulatory guidelines.
The control room for each unit will be strategically located between the turbine building and containment building. And from there, the operators will run the facility. They've been training on this for years. And now, 40 licensed operator candidates and four operations training instructors have completed their training and will soon be awarded certification on the AP-1000 reactor. Next, they will earn their AP-1000 operator licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, some of the first ever issued by that agency.
This year, many important visitors toured Plant Vogtle, including Nuclear Regulatory Commission members William Ostendorff and chairman Allison Macfarlane, as well as a delegation all the way from China. As we say goodbye to this year, we anticipate many exciting new milestones ahead in 2014. We look forward to keeping you up-to-date on the latest amazing things happening here as we lead America's nuclear renaissance.
From all of us at Plant Vogtle, we wish you a safe, healthy and happy New Year!