Georgia Power has announced the completion of cold hydro testing for Vogtle Unit 3 at the company's nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga.
Barring unforeseen speed bumps, Vogtle Unit 3 completion is near. "Construction is now approximately 94 percent complete, with the total Vogtle 3 & 4 expansion project approximately 88 percent," the company said. "The completion of the cold hydro-testing milestone prepares the site for the last major test remaining for Unit 3, hot functional testing, ahead of initial fuel load."
"Every milestone achieved at the Vogtle 3 & 4 project represents another major step towards operations of the first new nuclear units in the U.S. in more than 30 years," said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. "Completion of cold hydro-testing not only helps pave the way for initial fuel load, but it also moves us closer to bringing online a carbon-free asset that will provide clean energy for our customers, our state and the country for the next 60 to 80 years."
Cold hydro testing of Unit 3 confirmed the reactor's coolant system functions as designed and verified the welds, joints, pipes, and other components of the coolant system and associated high-pressure systems do not leak when under pressure. As part of the testing, the reactor coolant system was filled with water and pressurized above-normal operating conditions, then lowered to normal design pressure while comprehensive inspections were conducted to verify the systems meet design standards.
Moreover, Georgia Power continues to expect to meet the November 2021 and November 2022 regulatory-approved in-service dates for Units 3 and 4, respectively.
Additional milestones include a successful started up of the first reactor coolant pump (RCP) on Unit 3, marking a first for both the project and for an AP1000 in the U.S. This initial run verifies the RCP operates as designed. During operations, the RCPs will circulate water through the reactor vessel and steam generators, providing a forced flow of the reactor coolant through the reactor core, to the steam generator, and then back again to support operations.
Additionally, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued the first operator licenses to 62 Reactor and Senior Reactor Operators for Vogtle 3 & 4. To receive a nuclear operator license from the NRC, license holders must demonstrate they possess the required knowledge, skills and abilities to safely and effectively operate the plant.
The multi-year process for obtaining an operator license begins with extensive training in reactor theory, thermodynamics and system operation in the classroom and field. The operators spend months in the Main Control Room simulator running various scenarios under normal and emergency conditions to help ensure that the operators can safely respond to any issue or event. This process culminates with a two-week examination administered by the NRC.
The 2020 calendar year included completion of closed vessel testing for Unit 3, completion of the structural integrity test and integrated leak rate test, placement of the final module for Unit 3, placement of Unit 3's integrated head package atop the reactor vessel, and completion of open vessel testing for Unit 3.
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Well done all.