Bechtel achieves major milestone at nuclear plant construction site in US


A Bechtel-led construction team announced that it has placed the massive reaction building dome on Unit 4, the second of the two new nuclear units Vogtle’s Units 3 and 4, presently being constructed in Waynesboro, Georgia.

The dome, known as the ‘top head’ weighs nearly 1.5 million pounds or more than two fully loaded jumbo jets and measuring 130ft in diameter and 37ft tall is considered to be the roof of the high-integrity steel structure that contains the Unit 4’s nuclear reactor.

It includes 58 large plates, each more than an inch and half thick, welded together. The setting was completed only a couple of days ago, following a complex rigging operation.

The placement follows the installation of Unit 4’s nuclear steam supply system which includes the reactors, reactor coolant pumps, steam generators, pressuriser and associated piping.

Considered to be the essential elements of the unit’s nuclear power system, they are used for generating the steam needed to drive the unit’s turbine generator to generate electricity.

Bechtel project director Brian Reilly said: “This milestone reflects the hard work and dedication of the Vogtle 3 & 4 team as we transition these units closer to operation. We completed this important milestone safely and continue to demonstrate our commitment to deliver these units as promised for our customer and this community.

“This milestone indicates tremendous progress on the project, and we expect this momentum to continue throughout 2020. We are proud to be a part of building the future of nuclear power in the United States.”

The project is owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) and Dalton Utilities.

In 2006, Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, had applied for an early site permit for two additional units and in 2009, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved the project.

In 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued early-stage permit and limited work authorisation and it had approved the construction licence in 2012.

In March 2013, construction began on Unit 3 with concrete being poured at basemat. In November 2013, construction began on Unit 4.

In 2016, Bechtel was brought into the construction team by Southern Company. And the company has been given the responsibility of completing the Vogtle Units 3 and 4. The units are powered by Westinghouse AP1000 units to be built in the US.

The units 3 and 4 are ready to begin commercial operations in this year and next year, respectively.


Top head being lifted onto Unit 4 at Plant Vogtle. (Credit: Bechtel Corporation.)

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