Delays in pouring concrete for new US nuclear units ending: Westinghouse, SCE&G
Washington (Platts)--14Feb2013/347 pm EST/2047 GMT
Delays in pouring the concrete for the foundation of nuclear reactors
being built in Georgia and South Carolina are being resolved and are not a
sign there will be extensive delays in other parts of the project, executives
of Westinghouse and South Carolina Electric & Gas said Thursday.
The pouring of the foundation for the first two reactors has been
delayed by months, although Stephen Byrne, chief operating officer of SCE&G,
told reporters in New York the foundation pour for the first of two new units
at the utility's Summer site could happen as soon as early March, pending
SCE&G and Georgia Power are each building two 1,100-MW Westinghouse
AP1000 reactors at sites of existing nuclear units.
Article continues below...
Sign up for Nucleonics Week
Since 1960, Platts Nucleonics Week has been the leading source of global news for the commercial nuclear power business. Nucleonics Week delivers analysis with a depth and sophistication simply unavailable anywhere else.
In other global nuclear projects, delays in concrete activities, which
are among the first in the construction process, have not presaged further
project problems, Byrne said.
"We have a high degree of confidence that when we get by some of these
technical issues up front, the project teams will be able to execute and
they'll get the construction done," Byrne said.
Work has been under way at the Summer and Vogtle sites for several
years. Pouring of the foundation, or basemat, of the nuclear island, where
the reactor and related equipment will sit, is considered the start of
official construction by the nuclear industry.
The two new Summer units and two at Georgia Power's Vogtle site have
been delayed by discrepancies between the design approved by the US Nuclear
Regulatory Commission and the construction specifications for the reinforced
concrete basemat. Many of the issues relate to interpretations of
construction codes that were referenced in the design, said Danny Roderick,
CEO of Westinghouse, the reactor designer for the four units.
Byrne and Roderick spoke on the sidelines of a briefing by the Nuclear
Energy Institute, an industry association, in New York.
The milestone has proved challenging for the companies, having been
delayed at least eight times at the Vogtle site since February 2012, a
construction monitor for the Georgia Public Service Commission said in a
The design of reinforcing steel bar embedded in the concrete is more
complicated than people realize, requiring analysis just as complex as that
for reactor piping, Roderick said.
Westinghouse has studied the delays in the foundation pour of the
plants, and applied lessons to future work, Roderick said. The US nuclear
industry has far more experience in recent decades installing safety-related
piping and electrical material than with safety-related concrete on a large
scale, Roderick said.
The Summer and Vogtle units are the first new US nuclear units to
receive construction authorization in more than 30 years. The first new unit
at each site is likely to come online in 2017, with the second to follow a
At the first new Summer unit, modifications to the reinforcing bar are
under way and should be completed by the end of February, he said, leaving
them ready for pouring concrete. When NRC approves a license amendment
covering the changes to the rebar, which SCE&G has requested by March 1, the
site expects to be ready for the concrete pour.
The schedule at Vogtle is similar, Roderick said.
At all four units, the pour is scheduled to last 48 hours, a continuous
pour of the six-foot-thick foundation slab. Workers have been training using
mock rebar sections for the pour, Roderick said.
Because of the use of modular construction techniques, which means many
portions of plant buildings are already being assembled, and the metal
containment structure that will house the reactor itself is partially built,
Roderick said. That has the potential to speed progress once the foundation
is poured, he said.
--William Freebairn, email@example.com
--Edited by Carla Bass, firstname.lastname@example.org