Federal regulators say a failed effort to move a 300-ton reactor vessel from Savannah, Ga., to Plant Vogtle was a minor incident spawned by a simple safety concern that will not affect the component’s delivery to the site.
“It was fully contained in shrink wrap and there was no damage, not even to the shrink wrap itself,” said Joey Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
A Dec. 15 attempt to move the vessel by rail was aborted after the vessel traveled less than a mile aboard a specially designed transport car, which was then returned to its storage site at the Port of Savannah.
Ledford said engineers detected a slight movement in the platform on which the Korean-built reactor vessel was mounted.
“We were told they had gotten just a quarter of a mile, never going more than 2 mph, with people walking along it the whole time,” he said.
Contractors stopped the train and moved the reactor vessel off-center to enable engineers to better evaluate the alignment of the platform.
“At that point they made a decision to move it back into the port for further review,” Ledford said.
The NRC was briefed on the incident, which did not meet criteria for a formal report or additional oversight. After the reactor vessel arrives at Vogtle, NRC inspectors will conduct a “receiving inspection.”
A Georgia Power spokesman was unsure when the unit will be moved again but said there is no date yet for its arrival.
A nuclear watchdog group called attention Monday to the vessel’s unguarded storage location, saying it could be vulnerable to sabotage, vandalism or corrosion from salt air.
Though the vessel is covered by a large tarp and is not directly visible, “beyond an occasional drive-by of vehicles, there was no security of any kind nor were any repair or inspection activities observed,” said Tom Clements, of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.