Southern Nuclear takes over from bankrupt Westinghouse to finish Vogtle nuclear plant

Southern Nuclear takes over from bankrupt Westinghouse to finish Vogtle nuclear plant

July 29th, 2017 by Staff and wire reports in Business Around the Region

The first of two accumulator tanks is palced inside of the containment building being erected at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Georgia Power Co. said Friday its Southern Nuclear division has taken over construction of units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle following the bankruptcy of the original builder of the units, the Westinghouse division of Toshiba.

Westinghouse, the developer of the AP1000 nuclear technology being used by the new units, served as the primary contractor with oversight and responsibility for all construction activities at Plant Vogtle. But Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy on March 29 after unexpected costs developed at both Plant Vogtle in Georgia and the VC Summer plant in South Carolina.

"We are already in the midst of a seamless transition for the thousands of workers across the site, allowing us to sustain the progress we are making every day on both units," said Mark Rauckhorst, executive vice president for the Vogtle 3 and 4 project. "We remain focused on safety and quality as we complete this transition."

Toshiba Corp. also said Friday it has agreed to pay $2.168 billion to walk away from two other unfinished nuclear reactors Westinghouse designed at the Summer plant in South Carolina. Toshiba reached a similar agreement to pay $3.7 billion in June to Southern Co, and the other owners of Plant Vogtle, including Dalton Utilities.

Under the new structure, hundreds of Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear employees, many of whom are already working on the project, will assume clearly defined project management roles.

Georgia Power also continues work with the project's co-owners (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities) to complete a full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis of the project. But the utility said construction momentum has continued uninterrupted.

In the past 30 days, new concrete has been placed within the Unit 3 shield building and nuclear island, structural steel has been installed for the Unit 4 annex building and the first of four 85,000-pound accumulator tanks was put in place for the new units within the Unit 3 containment vessel.

Plant Vogtle is expected to be the first new nuclear power plant built in the 21st century.

SCANA Corp and its partner, Santee Cooper, are more cautious about finishing the VC Summer nuclear units in South Carolina.

The project is years behind schedule. The owners of the VC Summer project said Thursday they expect the cost of completing the project will "materially exceed" Westinghouse's estimates and the payments due from Toshiba. They said they hope to decide soon whether they will continue with the two projects, modify them or abandon them.