Plant Vogtle owners sue contractors over disputed backfill charges

Georgia Power, others seek nearly $30 million refund

Friday, Aug 24, 2012 12:47 PM
Last updated 9:15 PM
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Georgia Power Co. and other Plant Vogtle owners filed a lawsuit this week seeking a refund of more than $29.5 million from the contractor consortium building the site’s two new nuclear reactors.

In a breach of contract complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Augusta, the plaintiffs contend contractors Westinghouse Electric and Stone & Webster violated the terms of a 2008 engineering, procurement and construction agreement and submitted claims for payment that are “entirely without merit.”

During site preparation for the project, contractors removed 3.9 million cubic yards of earth during the excavation of 90-foot-deep holes for the two reactors and refilled those areas with 3.6 million cubic yards of backfill.

During that project, extra costs were incurred because of the need for additional backfill, for which the contractors were paid an additional $61 million, the complaint said.

On Aug. 31, 2011, after the project was completed, a new request was submitted for $66,917,000 more.

The owners paid $7,006,871 of that sum, after which the contractors submitted a revised bill for $58,507,000.

Although the owners disputed the added costs, they paid 50 percent of the bill – $29,253,500 – on June 9, the complaint said.

The contractors filed suit against the owners July 25, seeking the remainder of the bill, in violation of the 2008 agreement, which requires that mediation efforts be exhausted before lawsuits can be filed.

The contractors “violated the express conditions” of the contract by filing suit July 25, when mediation did not commence until July 30, the complaint said.

Thus, the contractors’ lawsuit was premature and subject to dismissal, and the Plant Vogtle owners are entitled to a refund of the $29,253,500, plus interest, the complaint said.

The plaintiffs are Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. They are seeking a jury trial.


Plant Vogtle’s $14 billion expansion – which includes the first new commercial reactors built in the U.S. in decades – has accelerated rapidly since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved final permits in February.

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faithson 08/24/12 - 01:29 pm
always knew there was money in dirt

but these numbers seam a little overboard. How can you miss what looks like 128 million dollars of earthwork ?? 61 million change order to begin with and paid, than another 66 million. Something wrong here. Sure hope the whole project was better bid than the dirt work or else all of us GA Power users are in for a reaming.......

Rob Pavey 08/24/12 - 02:14 pm
it's not just any's 'nuclear dirt."

My understanding is that dirt removed is tested and screened to see how much of it is suitable to become 'nuclear backfill dirt' with approprioate density and compaction to be used beneath nuclear construction. A lot of what was removed had to be hauled off, and a lot of what was put back in had to be trucked in. The difference in what was removed and replaced is due both to compaction and to the holes in which the reactor foundations are now being built. Part of the dispute is whether the owners provided the contractors with accurate site assessments before the project, when original cost estimates were made.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 08/24/12 - 03:54 pm
Common Knowledge

They already built two Westinghouse reactors there back in the 80s. It is well known around these parts that the dirt at the Vogtle site is extremely sandy and has sea shells distributed throughout it. That was not in the 80s and is not now suitable for backfill for a nuclear plant. Westinghouse plus Stone & Webster are fibbing if they say they didn't know they would have to provide outside dirt.

faithson 08/24/12 - 04:35 pm
Rob hit the nail on the head..

'owners provided the contractors', The civil's provided were the bidding documents. A lot can change in the field. Been there done that got that PHD. It is still quite an overrun... I would love to have been submitting the change orders, everyone in construction knows that the money is in the change orders.

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