SC plant readies nuclear fuel for China's first AP1000 reactor

Thursday, March 22, 2012 4:27 PM
Last updated Friday, March 23, 2012 12:30 AM
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The same nuclear fuel that will power Plant Vogtle’s new reactors will get its first tryout in China, where the world’s first AP1000 unit is expected to go online in 2013 – three years ahead of the ones in the U.S.

Westinghouse, which developed the new generation of “advanced passive” reactor, announced this week that its Columbia nuclear fuel factory has completed fabrication of all 157 assemblies needed for the startup of the Sanmen 1 unit under way in China’s Zhejiang province.

China is building four identical units in its Sanmen and Haiyang nuclear plants, offering Plant Vogtle engineers stationed in Shanghai an opportunity to observe what lies ahead for the $14 billion Burke County project. Those engineers also hope to observe Sanmen 1’s inaugural fueling and startup.

The China-bound assemblies were delivered to Sanmen Nuclear Power Co., also based in Columbia, which will ship them to the Sanmen site.

The AP1000 reactor, which includes a gravity-cooled safety system and incorporates a modular construction design, was certified in December by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Although Sanmen 1 will become the first such unit in the world to begin making electricity, the Vogtle project has been designated as the U.S. “reference site” for the new reactors, which are planned in several other states, including two at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

The 550,000-square-foot Westinghouse fuel plant near Columbia opened in 1969 and employs about 1,200 workers.

The new Vogtle reactors are scheduled to begin making electricity in 2016 and 2017, according to Southern Nuclear’s latest construction report filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission.


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