Plant Vogtle contractor reducing construction force

The contractor in charge of Plant Vogtle’s $14 billion nuclear expansion has initiated a series of layoffs at the Burke County site.

Gentry Brann, the vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for The Shaw Group, acknowledged the cuts in an e-mailed response to questions, but did not elaborate on how many workers are involved – or the expected duration of the downsizing.

“Shaw is making a reduction in force on our Vogtle project, which is necessary to adjust the project staff to better align with our current scope of operation,” she said. “As typical with any large construction project, the workforce will ramp up and down as a normal course of business.”

“Considerable work continues throughout the facility in the nuclear islands, cooling towers, turbine and balance of plant,” Brann said.

The Vogtle project typically involves as many as 2,200 workers a day, according to Georgia Power Co., and employment is projected to peak at about 3,500 in later phases of the project, in which two new reactors are being added to the site.

In recent months, some phases of the project have been slowed as engineers resolved issues including rebar that was not consistent with the design approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That discrepancy was resolved through a license amendment request.

One of the key steps in the construction of Unit 3 was the pouring of 6,850 cubic yards of specially mixed “nuclear concrete” that must be applied in a continuous, 50-hour stream to form the basemat foundation.

That event was scheduled to occur last fall, but is now expected to commence during the first quarter of 2013.

The new units are scheduled to go into service in 2016 and 2017, but contractors have said they could be delayed by a year or more. The contractors and owners are in ongoing discussions to determine a new “commercial operation date” for the units.

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