| Register

Construction Videos

Vogtle 3 and 4

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 3rd Quarter 2013

Joe Washington

With a project of this magnitude, almost every day reveals a major milestone and historic achievement as we witness America's rebirth of nuclear energy here at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle!

Some big things are happening here… REALLY big!

This is the 900-ton containment vessel bottom head for Unit 3. It was lifted and placed onto its cradle in Unit 3's nuclear island recently making this the heaviest lift to date here.

The bottom head is the first of several components that will make up the thick steel structure known as the containment vessel. This is where the reactor and associated steam generators and components will be housed. This bottom head was assembled on site in the containment vessel assembly area… …where we can see that work on the Unit 4 bottom head is well underway. Each bottom head is comprised of fifty-eight plates that are welded together. And next to it we can see the progress on the middle and lower rings for Unit 3.

Once all the components of the containment vessel are in place, it will be surrounded by heavily reinforced concrete to create the shield building. Right now, the CA20 module for Unit 3 - which will be placed adjacent to the containment building - is being welded in the Module Assembly Building. The CA 20 module houses equipment for used fuel storage and handling, and various other reactor operation support systems. When complete it will be equivalent in height to a five-story building, and will be the single largest component used in the construction of the AP1000 units. The containment buildings for Units 3 and 4 will each be connected to their respective turbine buildings.

And in the past couple of days we've seen the Unit 3 turbine building rise from the Georgia clay and begin to take shape. It's exciting when structures here go vertical.

It also makes heads turn when mammoth components like this deaerator for Unit 4 arrive on site.

Everyone looks forward to milestones like these as we are living a little piece of history here every day at Vogtle 3 & 4.

To date there are two thousand six hundred fifty workers on site, and that number is expected to grow with the project. There are many different kinds of jobs and specialties here, and Quincy Robinson can tell us more about that.

Quincy Robinson

There are a lot of opportunities here as far as different crafts. Electrical craft, carpenters, concrete finishers, ironworkers, pipe fitters, and all these crafts offer apprenticeship programs which consist of three to five years on the job training and get paid at the same time, and it's a great opportunity for the future. This is the turbine three area here at Plant Vogtle. This is the actual area where I work with the rodbusters. carpenters, laborers, surveyors…the rodbusters are the guys that's doing all the ties. This is a very important role as far as getting this steel in. It has to be done. Then it's pour the concrete and we can further the progress of the project.

Joe Washington

Thanks Quincy. Every single person who works at this construction site is focused on safety. CB&I's Project Director for Vogtle 3 & 4, John Simmons, has more than 35 years of design, construction and project management experience and he's responsible for ensuring the project is completed safely while meeting the objectives for quality, schedule and cost.

John Simmons

We have been in a ramp up phase for the last 4 to 5 months on the project. We've added 250 workers over the last 3 months - most of those workers are supporting our concrete work and module installations work. A lot of welders are being added to the project and it's great to see the mix of the workers that are coming to this site from Georgia - a lot of younger workers are coming in and that's great for the local economy and we like to get that mix in here also. We're going to be continuing work in the aux. building and the containment. We just placed the first nuclear walls. That work is going to be continuing. We just placed the first mechanical equipment. That work will be continuing. We're going to be placing consolidated concrete, that's coming up. And the other thing that's going to be happening is we're going to be setting the condensers in unit 3 and that's going to be a very large pick.

Joe Washington

Thanks John. Together with consortium partner CB&I, Westinghouse - the designer of the AP1000 - is responsible for the successful execution of the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project, which is more than 50 percent complete based on contractual milestones. Scott Gray, Vice President for the Vogtle 3 & 4 AP1000 project for Westinghouse has more.

Scott Gray

We're targeting two major activities, at least. One being the setting of the CA20 structural module in Unit 3 auxiliary building. The other significant milestone will be concrete placement - first nuclear concrete - for Unit 4 basemat. Over the next six months our goal is to achieve Elevation 100 which is the surface level surrounding the nuclear island which allows us to start the construction of, for example, the annex building which will be used later on to install equipment which supports initial energization and startup activities. We have a very collaborative working environment within the consortium. We work very closely together; make decisions together in the best interest of the project. We work very closely with our customer, Southern Nuclear, to address all the critical issues everybody is interested in and is important to the construction of the project. The key to our success, whether on an individual activity basis or for the project as a whole, is the commitment we've made to a strong nuclear safety culture, to the safety of our personnel and the quality of our work - doing it right the first time and continuous improvement.

Joe Washington

Thanks Scott.

Every activity here is performed with Georgia Power's uncompromising commitment to safety, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's oversight to ensure all safety goals are met.

NRC inspectors are on site here full time, at the Vogtle 1 &2 operating facility as well as at the construction site for Units 3 & 4.

And recently, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane toured Plant Vogtle and expressed confidence that safety objectives are being met here.

Construction here continues to be well-managed and is progressing toward Georgia Power's goal of providing a safe, reliable, clean and cost-effective source of electricity for today, and for generations to come.

That's all from here for now. Join us again for the next Vogtle Timeline!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 2nd Quarter 2013

Joe Washington

From high above the site of the rebirth of nuclear energy in America, Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle project is now one-third complete!

And major milestones continue to be reached here beginning with the placement of the first nuclear island concrete on Unit 3 to create the six-foot-thick basemat. This is the foundation for the nuclear island which includes the containment and auxiliary buildings.

The placement of this basemat concrete is very significant because it precedes the setting of major components inside the nuclear island.

The basemat covers eleven hundred tons of steel rebar. It requires 6,850 yards of concrete to cover this area 254 feet long, and 161 feet across at its widest section.

This is not just any concrete. It's nuclear grade concrete, which means that it has passed rigorous methods of qualifying and manufacturing. It's specially designed, mixed, reinforced and constructed according to strict procedures. It requires a trained workforce with special certifications to perform this activity.

The planning for this process was so stringent that a mock site was built to simulate this concrete placement before it actually took place. Months of planning and detailed preparation were keys to the success of this significant event.

In fact, many of the construction activities here undergo a trial-run on scaled down mock sites to ensure everything is done with precision when it's time to perform the actual task. This is one of many examples of Georgia Power's unconditional commitment to safety in preparation for all activities here.

With the completion of the basemat for Unit 3, the cradle that will hold the bottom head of the Unit 3 containment vessel was recently placed inside the nuclear island. David Keech has the details on this landmark achievement.

David Keech

CR10 is the first major module to be set in place here at the site and is the first installed heavy lift. The safety processes and planning used to design the rigging have been going on for months. A lot of upfront work was performed to ensure everything was where it was supposed to be and the lift was performed safely. In order to move a structure like that it actually takes a rigging plan that's above and beyond even the containment vessels. The weight had to be equalized to ensure there was no undo stress put on the individual structural members as it was being lifted, swung and set. Currently the CR10 is being anchored to the concrete foundation. Once that is complete, additional rebar and concrete will be installed to get ready to set the Unit 3 containment vessel bottom head onto CR10.

Joe Washington

Thanks David. Elsewhere on the site permanent buildings and structures are sprouting up, and we can begin to really comprehend the magnitude of this project.

There's a great deal of activity around the cooling towers. The first x-braces, sometimes called the "legs," are being put in place at a rate of one per day. This marks the erection of the first above-ground permanent structures here.

Other permanent buildings going up that will eventually be shared by all four Vogtle units are for maintenance, security, operations offices, and support functions. These will make up this inner area known around here as the "central campus."

These new permanent buildings will one day replace the office complexes where Georgia Power, Westinghouse, Southern Nuclear, CB&I and other employees are currently located. And the modular assembly building, as well as other temporary structures, will all be removed once the project is complete.

Across the footprint the laydown yards are expanding as components arrive. And as you can see, many of them are absolutely enormous!

Like these 79 foot moisture separator reheaters for the unit 3 turbine building. Their function is to increase the temperature of the steam and remove water droplets from it before it reaches the turbine. These arrived by train, then were lifted onto crawlers and moved to storage where they will remain until time to be installed.

Another huge component that arrived recently is the deaerator for Unit 3. Its function is to eliminate dissolved gases, such as oxygen, from feedwater. This prevents corrosion and helps reduce plant maintenance and operating costs. The gigantic device was shipped to Savannah, Georgia from Korea, then offloaded to this oversized-load transporter and brought here. This was a major operation, and strategic deliveries like this will be repeated many times over during the course of construction. Here's Herman Richards with details.

Herman Richards

The successful delivery of the Unit 3 deaerator at the Vogtle site was the result of a well executed detailed plan. This major undertaking was coordinated by Westinghouse and was a collaborative effort between our consortium partners, their contractors, local communities, local and state agencies, Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power.

George McDonough

Moving an object of this size across the highway really turns out to be extremely complicated. It had a push and pull support on it. You just can't pull it and just can't push it. So we had to make sure that we got everything coordinated, all the permits in place, and we probably ran this route ten times at least to make sure that everything was done properly. There were signs up, the public was notified - that was all coordinated through the law enforcement divisions and through the DOT. And it's just amazing to see something that large moving down the highway. Probably the greatest part of it was to see little kids lined up beside the road waving American flags as you came through; the support from all of the people, the community. It was just overwhelming.

Joe Washington

Thanks George. Hundreds of components will continue to arrive as work progresses steadily on the nuclear islands and turbine islands for Units 3 and 4. Most significant is the recent arrival of the reactor vessel for Unit 3, traveling by ship and train from South Korea.

Right now two of the three middle rings of the Unit 3 containment vessel are being assembled.

The openings you see here, called penetrations, range in size from one-half inch to sixteen feet in diameter and allow for everything from cables and pipes to be installed, to small cranes that go inside the containment vessels during routine refueling and maintenance.

When complete, the two containment vessels will be moved to the nuclear islands for placement and welding in place. Each one will weigh 4,000 tons and measure 130 feet thick and 215 feet tall.

Chicago Bridge and Iron is fabricating the containment vessels and the cradles, as well as designing and building many other parts of this overall project. Recently, CB&I acquired the Shaw Group, which has been the construction partner here since the beginning of the project. Renita Crawford tells us more about the acquisition.

Renita Crawford

The combination of CB&I and Shaw has created one of the world's largest engineering, procurement and construction companies focused on the global energy industry. And although our companies target their expertise toward different end markets, the skills of the employees are transferable throughout the entire combined organization. Now with approximately 50,000 employees CB&I is able to provide our clients with a wide range of products and services across the entire energy spectrum. There are a lot of exciting changes here at the site. The new company will market as CB&I using the CB&I logo, and if you look around you will see the CB&I logo is very visible on vehicles, most of our equipment and on our structures. The CB&I flag is also flying at our entrance.

Joe Washington

Thanks Renita. CB&I has built three fourths of the nuclear containment vessels currently operating in the United States.

As we move through this historic venture, paving the way for the rebirth of nuclear energy in this country, our uncompromising focus remains on safety and quality. Our customers expect and deserve a safe, reliable and clean source of energy, and it's our mission and goal to provide it to them.

Georgia Power's priority on safety and quality is one of many reasons our parent company, Southern Company, was selected as the 2012 Electric Utility of the Year by Electric Light and Power magazine. That's all from here for now. We hope you'll join us again for the next Vogtle Timeline!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 4th Quarter 2012

Joe Washington

One year ago this landscape began to reveal America's first nuclear facilities to be built in 30 years. And look at it today! What an impressive transformation here at Georgia Power Company's Plant Vogtle construction footprint. Let's go to Mark Rauckhorst for an update on the progress here.

Mark Rauckhorst

"I would describe the success of this project as centered around the people. The people that are here in Southern Nuclear, Shaw, Westinghouse, and the contractors and sub-contractors that are part of the first nuclear project in 30 years."

Monty Glover

"It's our people, our teamwork, and also our teamwork in working together with our consortium and our partners at Southern."

Mark Rauckhorst

"We're working collaboratively in three organizations to come together to get the right plan and the right organization so we can be successful."

Joe Washington

Thanks Mark. 2012 has proven to be a year of reaching remarkable goals and achieving extraordinary milestones. Let's cap off this year by taking a look back at the progress.

It was truly a historic event in February when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the Combined Construction and Operating Licenses for Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4. These were the first COLs ever issued in the United States for a new nuclear energy facility.

Receiving the COL means the NRC determined that the design of the plant is safe and meets all regulatory requirements.

Georgia Power's solid commitment to operating a safe and reliable facility that will sustain and improve the quality of life for customers and their communities remains the first priority.

The COL cleared the way for construction of the AP1000 reactors.

This year also saw the completion of a state-of-the-art training facility here at Plant Vogtle, including two 3rd generation, all-digital simulators. Because they were built prior to construction of the plant, the simulators are both prototypes and exact replicas of the most modern nuclear plant control room in the world. These AP 1000 simulators are in use 16 hours a day now as Operations training is in full swing! The first group of Vogtle 3&4 reactor operators and senior reactor operators are scheduled to take their first NRC written exam in the summer of 2014, followed by their first simulator exam in late fall of 2014.

Earlier this year, our six Operations training programs were accredited by the National Nuclear Accrediting Board. Following accreditation, Vogtle 3 and 4 was officially commissioned as a branch member of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. We are held to the highest standards in everything we do by independent nuclear regulating agencies and experts. In fact, American nuclear facilities are the most strongly regulated in the world - and that's the way it should be.

On the construction site, the progress on the nuclear island and turbine island for each unit is steady and visible. The Unit 3 condenser is almost complete, and components for the Unit 4 condenser have arrived. Soon the Unit 3 cooling tower leg sections will be moved into place. Each leg weighs more than 52 tons and is 40 feet tall. Similar progress on Unit 4 will follow as scheduled in 2013.

When we talk about moving things around here on this construction site, it's no easy task!

This containment vessel bottom head for Unit 3 weighs 879 tons including the external rebar. It was recently moved to a holding area by these incredibly powerful crawlers. This was done to get it closer to the heavy lift derrick that will eventually set it in place, as well as to free up work space so that fabrication of the Unit 3 containment vessel middle ring can begin. Here's Chris Defnall with more.

Chris Defnall

"Mammoet, the heavy haul contractor on site, is using ten mechanically hydraulic crawlers to move the containment vessel bottom head approximately 2,000 feet. The Unit 3 Containment Vessel is being taken to a section of the heavy haul road just south of the nuclear island to be positioned closer to the heavy lift derrick crane. Once positioned down here on the heavy haul road, the internal rebar will be installed. After the internal rebar is installed, it will go to the nuclear island."

Joe Washington

Thanks Chris. Crawling along at 2 miles per hour, the move took just less than two hours to complete. The cradle that will support this bottom head is scheduled to be set inside the nuclear island in early 2013.

…and the reactor vessel for Unit 3, which will one day hold the nuclear fuel, has been shipped from South Korea. In the coming year components and other materials that have been fabricated all over the United States and the world will continue to arrive on a regular basis. More than 35,000 jobs will be created around the U.S. from the use of various suppliers and contractors who are providing valuable parts for this project.

Nuclear energy is an important part of America's solution for energy security and independence. Plant Vogtle will provide Georgians with a safe, clean, reliable and efficient source of energy for decades to come. Our customers deserve it and expect it, and our commitment to it is the foundation of our success.

Monty Glover

"It has been a tremendous year and successful in the fact that we had ten million work hours without a life altering incident. We're continuing to train and educate our folks in nuclear safety culture. Tremendous success this year at Vogtle 3 & 4."

Joe Washington

Thanks Monty. It has certainly been a remarkable twelve months here at the site of America's nuclear renaissance! In our next report we'll look at the exciting growth and continued progress that lie ahead in 2013. Until then, best wishes from all of us here for a safe and Happy New Year!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 3rd Quarter 2012

Joe Washington

Looking in every direction it's clear that progress is steady and on track here at the construction site of Georgia Power's two nuclear energy facilities. Welcome back to Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia where approximately 2,300 employees are on the job now, and nearly ten million work hours have been logged to date.

This new generation of nuclear energy facilities is the world's most advanced. Comprised of the Westinghouse AP1000, it's designed to incorporate modern, modular, construction techniques. This means that construction activities that previously were done sequentially can now be done concurrently. Factory-built sub-modules and other materials that have been fabricated all over the world are arriving daily. Thousands of components will be assembled here to construct America's first AP1000 reactors.

The first of those are parts for the CA20 structural module. As you can see, these parts are stood up on end where they reach 68 feet in height, and are then welded together. Eight seams have been completed to date.

The CA20 is the Auxiliary Building for Unit 3 where most of the safety systems associated with the reactor will be housed.

The next module that will be assembled in the Modular Assembly Building is called CA01. It will house the reactor vessel, two steam generators, pressurizers and associated equipment, and will eventually be placed inside the containment vessel.

Once these giant modules and others are assembled, it's certainly going to require equipment with remarkable strength to move them into place! In previous Timeline reports you've probably seen this enormous heavy lift derrick (HLD) crane in the background. This extraordinary machine will put the huge modules into place by performing what's called "critical lifts." To prepare for these big moves, test lifts were recently conducted here. To tell us more about this we go to Karin Stoner. She's the Project Manager in the Nuclear Division of Shaw Power Group.

Karin Stoner

A test lift is the actual lifting of concrete blocks to ensure that the capacity of the crane can lift as designed and can do so safely. In this case the crane was tested at 100-110 percent of its largest lift, which is 1,520 tons. The HLD's first lift will be to take the nuclear reactor vessel off the rail car. The second lift, which is actually the first permanent installation, will be to place CR-10 steel on the nuclear island basemat. The heaviest lift this crane will make is the CA-O1 module. It is 1,300 tons, which to put that in perspective, a school bus weighs approximately 20,000 pounds, which is ten tons. That means we are lifting approximately 130 school buses. Critical lifts that will be performed are the steam generators, the CR-10 steel, the CA-20 module, CA-O1 modules, and actually the containment vessel bottom head itself. Some of the interesting facts about the crane - the boom itself is 560 feet tall. This is actually 20 feet taller than the existing cooling towers at Vogtle units 1 and 2. The back mast is 280 feet tall. There are eight miles of cable. The cable diameter is 2 and ¼ inches. The crane itself weighs six and a half million pounds. And the diameter of the rail that the HLD sits on is 300 feet. It takes approximately 20 minutes at full speed with no load for the crane to go full circle. This crane is actually one of two owned by Shaw.

Joe Washington

Thanks Karin. Here at the construction site we break everything down like this: there's the nuclear island, and everything that's NOT the nuclear island! If it's not part of the nuclear island it's known as the "Balance of Plant." This includes the turbine island and the cooling towers among other areas. And there's a lot of activity on the balance of plant as heavy equipment operators, ironworkers, carpenters, and laborers are making significant headway in bringing these structures into focus.

At the Unit 3 turbine building, 600 tons of rebar have been installed to date and the concrete base slab is almost complete with approximately 5,700 cubic yards poured so far. Building the exterior walls up to ground level is the next step, and then the backfill will continue to that height. The turbine is where energy from the high pressure steam will be converted to mechanical energy. This energy turns the generator which produces electricity to meet our everyday needs. The condenser's job is to convert the steam that passes through the turbine back into water. Work on the Unit 3 condenser is underway as tube bundles are set and leveled, then will be welded in place above the lower shell.

Now…to remove the heat from the water discharged from the condenser, natural draft cooling towers will be used at Plant Vogtle's new units. Here's Ralph West, Construction Manager for the Turbine Island and Balance of Plant, to tell us more.

Ralph West

The natural draft cooling tower has very few moving parts. The water is pumped in, the water flows over the fill, it's disbursed down to the basin at the bottom. It cools the water on the way down, and the heat is drawn by natural draft out the top of the tower.

The Unit 3 cooling tower - at this point, we have the foundation work complete. The ring beam on Unit 3 is now complete. We are in the process of pouring the pile caps and once that's done the exterior walls will begin. We are approximately 40 percent complete. The reason that doesn't show so much is all the underground work is complete. We will start the walls in the next month or so. The Unit 3 cooling tower at this time has 4,700 tons of rebar installed already, and we have placed 42,000 cubic yards of concrete in this location. The Unit 4 cooling tower - all the underground work is complete. We are pouring mud mats at this time. The first two sections of the ring beam are in progress of being formed and rebar installed at this time. The new cooling towers are very similar to units 1 and 2. They are 50 feet taller than units 1 and 2. The base area is 500 feet in diameter. The height will be right at 600 feet.

Joe Washington

Thanks Ralph. The two cooling towers will be completed within approximately 12 months of each other. The demand for electricity here in the Southeast is growing as fast as this construction project, and Georgia Power is responding to this demand by ensuring that future generations of Georgians have the affordable energy needed to sustain a strong, vibrant economy.

Our uncompromising focus remains on safety and quality. Our customers expect and deserve a reliable, safe, and clean source of energy. Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will be the first new-generation nuclear plants in the United States, and another step toward our country's energy independence.

That's all for now. In our next report we'll look back over 2012 at the major milestones and achievements here at the site of America's nuclear energy renaissance. We hope you'll join us then for the next Vogtle Timeline!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 2nd Quarter 2012

Joe Washington

As we move into the second half of 2012, activity here on the construction site of America's first nuclear energy facility in thirty years is bustling!

Almost a city unto itself, the construction site of Vogtle units 3 and 4 is in full gear. With the celebrated Combined Construction and Operating License in hand, work on the AP1000 nuclear reactors is moving steadily along, while the nearby turbine island and cooling tower for Unit 3 are buzzing with activity.

The turbine island is where the massive turbine and generator and associated condensers, pumps, and other systems will be housed. You can see the Unit 3 turbine island, nuclear island, and in the distance, the outline of the cooling towers for both units. The turbine island and nuclear island for Unit 4 show progress on the right.

Parts for Unit 3's condenser have already arrived! These large components will make up the 3,600 ton condensers for each unit. The parts you see here made the long voyage to the plant from South Korea where they were manufactured. From there they traveled by ship to the Port of Savannah where they were off-loaded for delivery to Plant Vogtle.

An on-site rail system has been constructed to bring these parts, as well as many others, to the areas where they're needed.

Once assembled, the condensers will be set in place inside the turbine building by the heavy lift derrick crane.

Across the footprint of the site from the Unit 3 turbine island, work is underway on the first components to be assembled inside the Module Assembly Building.

It's the CA20 for Unit 3, which is the auxiliary building module. When complete, it will be lifted and placed inside the nuclear island where it will house much of Unit 3's auxiliary systems and associated pumps, pipes, and tanks. The CA20 is one of the largest and heaviest modules that will be assembled inside this building.

Nearby, progress continues on the Unit 3 and Unit 4 containment vessel bottom heads, while welding continues on Unit 3's containment vessel lower ring.

While Vogtle units 3 and 4 are the first-ever Westinghouse AP1000 design nuclear reactors to be built in the United States, right now work is progressing on the WORLD'S first AP1000 reactors in Sanmen and Haiyang China. You may recall that about this time last year we discussed that project in depth. The Chinese are currently building a total of four AP1000 reactors - two at each location. Their construction is about two years ahead of the Vogtle project. Their first unit is scheduled to come on line late next year. They placed the reactor vessel inside the containment vessel on their first unit in Sanmen last year, and recently the condenser was set in and assembled. They plan to close the top on the first of their 4 units by the end of this summer.

As their project progresses it gives us an unprecedented opportunity to experience firsthand the start up, operation, and even refueling of the AP1000 once they bring their plants online. Currently the U.S. has about 104 nuclear reactors in service. The Chinese have about 13. So we can learn a lot from each other as work continues from one side of the globe to the other on these first-ever, new-age AP1000 electric generating facilities.

Back here at Plant Vogtle - there's a lot happening! And it takes a lot of highly trained people to keep it moving forward. Two thousand two hundred are on site now.

Sean McGarvey

"Working for Southern Company and the complexity of the project we're making sure we have the most highly skilled, readily available massive number of folks to deploy to that job site to get it done on time and on budget which is critically important. The people on the job site right now have been through massive training programs and have many years experience, and continue to get upgraded training across the country."

Joe Washington

Thanks Sean. It's said that training is the "long pole in the tent," meaning that it has to be in place first - even before any work begins on the actual generating facility.

So even before the first loads of dirt were excavated from this site, planning and preparations for training the people who will one day operate this new facility were already underway.

Because of Southern Company's solid commitment to operating a safe and reliable electric generating facility, the groundwork for the extensive and rigorous training programs for the next generation of nuclear plant operators has been in progress for years.

Recently during a ceremony here, the Vogtle 3 and 4 training program was officially commissioned as a branch member of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. It was a history-making event, as this is the first new branch established by the Academy in 22 years.

Jim Ellis

"To come out here and walk the ground and see people actually working; to talk to folks in the simulator and watch the drills in the Vogtle 3 and 4 simulator, and how impressive that is, all these things bring home the personal commitment that each of us makes to being a part of this."

Steve Kuczynski

"It's also a big day for us to have the CEO of INPO and Director of Accreditation to present this plaque to our employees to commemorate the initial accreditation for 3 and 4. And the way the accreditation went - it went very well - and it's just a great compliment to the leadership and the staff."

Joe Washington

Thanks Steve. Let's take a closer look inside one of the simulators where licensed operators of the new facility receive hands-on experience. Here's Charlie Nesbitt of Southern Nuclear to give us a tour of the state-of-the-art Westinghouse AP1000 simulators.

Charlie Nesbitt

"Welcome to the most modern nuclear plant simulator in the world, designed to replicate the Vogtle unit 3 control room. The AP1000 designed simulator consists of 16 wide panel displays as you see here; quad panel work stations for the reactor operators and balance of plant operators; quad panel monitoring stations for shift supervisors and shift technical advisors; and dual panel monitoring stations at the back of the room which double as simulator control stations.

What you see here is the final permanent AP1000 hardware. In two years the software will be upgraded to plant reference such that we can train and examine the first cadre of licensed operators just in time for fuel load of unit 3, and a year later for Unit 4."

Joe Washington

That's an amazing set-up! Thanks Charlie. Plant operators will have to be licensed before Unit 3 comes online and begins to operate commercially in 2016. Unit 4 will go online in 2017.

Southern Company is committed to reaching new levels of excellence every day. We remain committed to providing clean, safe, and reliable energy that will sustain and improve the quality of life for our customers and their communities. These are just a few of the many reasons Southern Company was recently awarded the esteemed Edison Electric Institute's highest honor: the EEI Edison Award.

Thomas Farrell II

Our winner this morning is a company that committed tremendous resources toward building the first new nuclear generating units in the United States in 30 years. They have a tremendous track record of exceptional construction performance, concentrated regulatory efforts, and have worked to educate the public about the safety and benefits of nuclear power.

Tom Fanning

All of that adds to our success, so to say that this award goes just to Southern it really goes to the industry and the excellence that we have demonstrated over the years in our nuclear programs.

Joe Washington

Southern Company received the award for leading the nuclear renaissance in the United States by its tremendous contribution to the electric generating industry here at Plant Vogtle. That's all for now. Join us in September for the next Vogtle Timeline!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 1st Quarter 2012

Joe Washington

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.

Chuck Pierce

"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."

Joe Washington

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.

Chuck Pierce

"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."

Buzz Miller

"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."

Steve Kuczynski

"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."

Joe Washington

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 $14 billion dollar 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."

Joe Washington

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.

Tom Dent

"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 CBI…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, trains…you're going to see the warehouses and receiving areas filling up quickly, so it's happening now!"

Joe Washington

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!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 4th Quarter 2011

Joe Washington

What a difference a year has made here at the construction site of America's newest nuclear energy facility!

The footprint of Southern Company's two new units at Plant Vogtle is now in clear view, as is the progress that has been made this year. Let's take a look back at 2011….

Several million cubic yards of special soils were backfilled and compacted during the excavation of the two new units. More backfilling will take place in the years ahead as the turbine building is constructed.

The nuclear islands for Units 3 and 4 were lined with retaining walls and now extend 40 feet into the ground.

The first components that will be put in place inside the nuclear islands are the CR-10 modules. These are the cradles on which the containment vessels will sit. Work is currently underway on the Unit 3 CR-10 at the Containment Vessel Cradle Assembly Pad. Once in place, each CR-10 module and containment vessel bottom will be surrounded by concrete.

Look at the progress that has been made just since our last report on the welding of the bottom head of the containment vessel for Unit 3. It's easy to see how this bowl shaped section will rest in the cradle of the CR-10. Another stand was recently erected for welding to begin on Unit 4's containment vessel bottom head.

Between the two nuclear islands is the circular platform for the heavy lift derrick crane. The platform has a 300 foot diameter rail-track around it. This will allow the crane to place the 1,000 ton sections of the containment vessels and large structural modules inside each of the nuclear islands. The first parts of the crane assembly are being placed on the track right now, and the 560 foot boom is currently being assembled.

The circulating water systems for both new units are in place and are now covered with concrete and soil. In this photo from October, you can still see how the pipes are laid out to and from the cooling tower on Unit 4. The cooling towers are faintly outlined in the distance. The circulating water pipe system will eventually connect to the new turbine building and condensers.

The Module Assembly Building, office complex, training facility, switchyard upgrades, IT systems, and many other construction goals have been reached on budget and on schedule.

It's a very exciting time here at Plant Vogtle where safety remains our top priority. We work to protect the public and our facilities with state of the art technology that layers precaution on top of precaution.

One major milestone we're particularly proud of is receiving the Final Safety Evaluation Report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, for the Combined Construction and Operating License.

The NRC is recognized globally as the strongest nuclear energy regulator in the world. Nuclear facilities in the United States are subject to more scrutiny and requirements than in any other country.

There are two NRC expert oversight officers on site here at Plant Vogtle, with more expected as construction progresses.

Receiving the NRC's final safety report means we don't just meet federal standards - we exceed them - with our multiple, redundant, layer upon layer of protective systems, and 24 hour a day expert oversight.

You know it takes a lot of people to reach the milestones of the past year and bring a project like this to life safely and on schedule. With one thousand eight hundred people working on site here now, everywhere you look there are experts in skilled crafts, and professionals in a wide range of trades.

We've certainly seen a lot of changes here over the past year. And it's only the beginning as Southern Company leads America's nuclear renaissance, and adds to its diverse portfolio of smarter, cleaner energy sources.

In our next report we'll look at what's ahead in 2012. That's all for now from Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. Best wishes from all of us here for a Happy New Year!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 3rd Quarter 2011

Joe Washington

It was this time last year that the first essential components for Southern Company's new AP1000 nuclear energy facility arrived from Japan at the Port of Savannah. That shipment brought the massive plates for the bottom head of the Unit 3 containment vessel.

Now, the second shipment is making Port --carrying the bottom head plates for Unit 4's containment vessel. And on site here at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia, progress continues!

The containment vessels are where the nuclear reactors will be housed. Looking at the existing containment vessels for Units 1 and 2, it's hard to really grasp the enormity of their structure and strength.

Each of the containment vessels for the new facility, Units 3 & 4, will be 131 feet in diameter, rise about 213 feet tall, and will weigh an incredible 4,000 tons.

Now…imagine what it takes to assemble these structures! Here's Matt Edmondson to tell us how it's done.

Matt Edmondson

Each containment vessel is assembled in five sections before being moved over to the nuclear island.

Right now we're getting started on welding the bottom head. It's comprised of three courses Each bottom head is made up of 62 plates.

The welding is done on this unique frame. It's a very important support structure critical to the installation of the bottom head and other parts of the vessel…alignment.

There will be close to one half million inches of weld on the bottom head alone. This translates to about 123 football fields!

Chicago Bridge and Iron was awarded the contract to fabricate and assemble both the Unit 3 & 4 containment vessels here.

Joe Washington

Thanks Matt. With all the construction activities on site working to build this facility, it's a project in itself to have the electricity supply available to conduct these activities….in other words…how do we provide the energy to build the new nuclear energy facility?

Georgia Power Company designed a system for providing a reliable source of construction electricity throughout the course of this project while making sure there are minimal interruptions.

Electricity is being brought to the site of Units 3 & 4 from the nearby Plant Wilson substation through underground cabling and associated equipment. So far, well over a mile of cabling has been laid and tested. And two pad mounted switching cubicles and a pad mounted metering cubicle have been installed.

Managing the scope of the additional energy needed for the construction site ensures that all of the ongoing activities have the electricity they need to keep the work flowing smoothly.

With construction well underway in many different areas here, the Information Technology department - or I.T. - is playing a vital role in setting up temporary construction data network and voice communications systems.

Highly reliable voice and data systems are critical in today's business world - and perhaps even more so at a nuclear energy facility. I.T. recently completed communications wiring for the 20,000 square foot construction office complex. This complex will house approximately 200 employees when complete. To be ready, more than 200 PCs and phones for engineers and other construction personnel have been installed here to help manage daily business needs.

To enhance productivity in the field, I.T., is currently working on upgrading wireless network coverage in the construction areas to allow engineers to digitally access drawings and other documents in real time.

This will enable them to see progress and address issues faster.

In anticipation of the additional voice and data needs for Units 3& 4, more than 18,000 feet of fiber-optic cable have been installed to upgrade the facility's permanent fiber infrastructure.

The new training building alone has 1400 network connections, 250 PCs, a distance learning center, and two computer labs.

By the time Vogtle Units 3 &4 are complete, there will be 2,000 phones, 1000 workstations, numerous wireless phones, network cameras, and network connectivity throughout the facility.

As Nuclear energy is re-emerging as a viable way to meet new demand for electricity with the added benefit of no greenhouse gas emissions, Southern Company is leading the nation's nuclear energy renaissance. We're on schedule to be the first U.S. utility in more than 30 years to build new nuclear-powered generation, which will be part of our diverse portfolio of smarter, cleaner energy sources.

Southern Company is the premier energy provider to the entire southeastern United States. We're committed to keeping our customers satisfied. And the construction of Vogtle Units 3 & 4 is answering the need for emission free, affordable, reliable energy.

Coming up, we'll take a look back over the past year at the major milestones and achievements for 2011. We hope you'll join us for the next Vogtle Timeline!

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 2nd Quarter 2011

Joe Washington

Here on the five hundred fifty acre construction site of America's newest nuclear power plant, it's easy to see the remarkable progress being made. The module assembly building rises impressively from the flat landscape and stands tall. It's finished and ready to receive components, a few of which have begun to arrive. Two hundred modules will be assembled here before being put into place, and getting those into place is a project all its own.

These cranes you see behind me will be dwarfed by the world's largest heavy lift derrick crane when it's erected here. That crane will eventually reside on what will be a sixty by sixty foot platform situated between the two reactor containment areas. The hook is rated to lift fifteen hundred tons, and that's what will be need to put the hundreds of components into place for the two new units. Some parts for the crane have already been delivered here, and it's scheduled to be assembled by the end of the year.

The heavy lift derrick crane will place numerous plant sections as deep as forty feet below ground level, into these specially excavated areas that make up the nuclear island. These are lined and reinforced with MSEs, a Mechanically Stabilized Earth system, as we discussed in our last report.

These workers are installing a multi-layered concrete working surface called a "Mud Mat" at the bottom of the containment area. This concrete floor will provide a stable working surface to install reinforcements and other features for the AP1000 foundation.

Vogtle units three and four mark the first ever Westinghouse AP1000 designed nuclear reactors to be built in the United States, but right now in Sanmen, China, the world's first AP1000 reactors are under construction, and are about two years ahead of the Vogtle project. That gives us an unprecedented opportunity to experience first hand the start-up, operation, and even refueling of the AP1000 when the Chinese bring their plant online, thanks to a learning exchange agreement between Southern Nuclear Operating Company and Shandong Nuclear Power Company.

Here at Southern Nuclear's Representative Office in Shanghai, resident project manager Yinkun Wan, and General Manager of External Alliances, Cheri Collins, both of Southern Nuclear Operating Company, are paving the way for a mutual learning experience with the Chinese, as they construct four AP1000 units.

Cheri Collins

Back in August of 2010, we wrote a memorandum of understanding with the Haiyang Power Plant, and in that memorandum of understanding, we outlined several quid pro quo style exchanges that we wished to go forward with, with our friends at Haiyang. The United States has a hundred and four nuclear reactors, and each of those reactors has been in service for many more than twenty years, and if you do the math on that, that's a couple of thousand years of safe reactor operating history.

Currently, they have about thirteen nuclear power plants in China, and they realize that they can learn a lot from the American program, and we're happy to exchange that information with them. And the Chinese are very interested in learning about our organization, how we train, how we do maintenance, how we operate our nuclear power plants. They're very interested in learning that.

The memorandum of understanding is an approved method for Southern Company. Being first-hand observers or the AP1000 Nuclear Power Plant that Haiyang is building, it will give us the opportunity to be on the front row when our friends at Haiyang take that power plant to commercial operation for the first time, to be there, and observe that.

We will take the lessons we learn from our experiences there, and apply those lessons learned back to our program and our initial operational approach for our own plants back in Waynesboro, Georgia.

People who operate nuclear power plants are dependent on each other to operate wherever the plant is and whatever country it's in, at the highest quality standards, with the safety and health of the public in the uppermost in our minds at all times, so what we do over the next three to four years, moving forward with our construction, learning as much as we can from the Chinese, it just positions us to be globally responsible nuclear power plant operators.

Joe Washington

Thank you Cheri. The U.S. Department of Energy must approve any memorandum of understanding in which a technical information exchange with China is to take place. That approval is in progress.

At Southern Company, training nuclear plant employees has already begun, and will be continuous. The new training facility here at Plant Vogtle is almost complete, and will soon house training in nearly every discipline, including operations, maintenance, engineering, chemistry, and health physics.

Needless to say, there's a lot going on at Plant Vogtle, from the site work, to training future employees, this project remains on budget and on schedule. That's all for now. Join us again next quarter for another construction update on Vogtle Timeline.

Read the transcript - Construction Timeline 1st Quarter 2011

JW: Joe Washington
DM: David Moncus
AA: Amy Aughtman

This is Vogtle Timeline with your host, Joe Washington.

JW: We kicked off 2011 making significant headway here at the construction site of Southern Company's Plant Vogtle, America's newest nuclear power plant. We're laying the foundation to provide continued reliable energy for generations to come. Literally. The foundation work is under way here in several areas. Concrete is being made here on-site now in one of our batch plants and being used to pour the platform for the heavy equipment crane that will move modules and parts for the nuclear island into place.

We've also begun to construct the Mechanically Stabilized Earth - or MSE - retaining wall. From the rim of the excavated area at unit 3, you can now see where the AP1000, the heart of this power plant, will be built. To tell us more about this is David Moncus, Southern Company's nuclear island construction manager.

DM: As you can see, we're standing on the rim of unit number 3 excavation. Below us is the outline of the nuclear island. The MSE function is the same as you see on the interstate where you see overpasses. They have walls that hold the earth back; that's the same concept here. Once the MSE walls are established, there will be work inside of the nuclear island. There's a completely safe work environment and each unit, unit 3 and unit 4 will have approximately 800 to 810 panels. The largest panels weigh approximately 3,500 pounds. The MSE walls not only serve to function to hold back backfield, but they will also act as our outside form for our building exterior walls. The advantage of the MSE wall installation is to allow us to compact our schedule. We can do our module assemblies at the same time we are completing backfield activities in the power block areas and meet the overall schedule of the plant.

JW: Thanks David. Now, adjacent to the nuclear island you can begin to see the outline of the cooling tower basins. Two cooling towers will be constructed, one for each unit. These are designed as natural draft cooling towers, which means they will function by relying on natural forces instead of mechanical. Each tower will reach 550 feet in height when completed. Excavation for the circulating water system beneath the towers has also begun. Pipe systems are being laid outside from the plant moving toward the side of the cooling towers, as you can see. The water source for this system is the nearby Savannah River. Water will be pumped through the plant's condensers and used over and over as a source of cooling.

When units 3 and 4 are complete, how do we get the power we've generated from the plant to the people who need it? The switchyard is where power is collected so we can send it out over transmission lines to our customers. Right now we're working on upgrading the existing switchyard at Vogtle units 1 and 2 with new equipment such as breakers, switches, switch gears, transformers and protective devices. The switchyard has to be able to handle the additional power that will be generated by the two new units and we're going to get ready for that now.

There's as much going on behind the scenes as what you can actually see here. Hundreds of people are working every day to keep this project on budget and on schedule. One way we are staying on target is successfully submitting our applications and obtaining our licenses from the regulatory agencies overseeing the project.

Recently we reached a significant milestone in licensing when the NRC recommended that our COL, the combined license to construct and operate the plant, be granted. With more on this landmark decision, here's Southern Nuclear AP1000 Licensing Supervisor, Amy Aughtman.

AA: Southern Nuclear is very happy to report that the permit to construct and operate the new Vogtle units is in the final stages of review at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In a combined license application, called the COL application, the NRC staff reviews descriptions of the applicant's qualifications, design, environmental impacts, operational programs and site safety. The NRC staff conducts its review in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act and NRC regulations. The technical review has been completed by the NRC staff and the advisory committee on reactor safeguards, which is an independent group of technical experts. The result of this review is the recommendation that the license be issued. The next step will be mandatory licensing hearings set for later this summer. Following the hearings, the license is expected to be issued late this year. Receiving the license clears the way for all construction activities at the site.

JW: Thanks Amy. This new power plant will allow us to produce the lowest-cost continuous, safe and reliable energy per kilowatt hour. As we continue to make great strides here, we hope you will join us for the next Vogtle Timeline, when we'll take you to the Shandong Nuclear Power Company in China. They're two years ahead of the U.S. in the construction of the AP1000 and that gives us an unprecedented opportunity to learn as much as possible about the construction and operation of this system as we move forward.

That's all from here. See you next time.

What is 'New' Nuclear?

Project Vogtle units 3 & 4 are the first new nuclear units in the industry to use advanced pressurized water reactor technology. This technology is safe, more efficient and simpler than current models. Learn how nuclear works.

Back to Top ↑