NRC approves two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia

World Nuclear News – American safety regulators gave the go-ahead today for the construction of two new nuclear power reactors.

It took just under 4 years from application to approval.

The vote by the five-member commission brought to an end a regulatory process lasting almost four years that confirmed the safety of building two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. It is the first combined construction and operating license issued by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Once Southern is in possession of the actual license itself – likely within ten working days – it will be allowed to begin the pouring of concrete for structures related to nuclear safety and the reactors can be said to be officially under construction. The 1107 MWe pressurized water reactors are slated for start-up in 2016 and 2017.

The AP1000 is a modular design and assembly facilities at Vogtle have already made the containment vessel bottom head as well as the first containment vessel ring. They have also started on the biggest module of all, the 840 tonne CA-20, which creates spaces for used fuel storage, transmission, heat exchange and waste collection within the reactor building

Workers stand in the excavated and waterproofed space for Vogtle 3’s reactor building (Image: Southern)

Plant owner Southern applied to the NRC to build Vogtle units 3 and 4 in April 2008, and signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with Westinghouse and its partner Shaw one week later. After a year the company had approval to begin limited construction work. The companies have now cleared and excavated the site, prepared for the concrete foundations of the reactor buildings, laid cooling water piping and put in place the foundations for the huge derrick crane for the simultaneous construction of two reactors.

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