Government SPLOST 7 | | | Editor

NRC says Vogtle rebar differs from approved design

  • Follow Government

Rebar installed at the construction site for Plant Vogtle’s new Unit 3 reactor is not consistent with approved design standards, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose inspectors identified the issue last week.

Although a formal, written report that would outline corrective options is not due until May, federal regulators have already met with Southern Nuclear executives to advise them of the finding, said NRC spokesman Roger Hannah.

“We had a meeting onsite with their management to preliminarily identify this as an issue,” he said. “It is preliminary information and at this point we don’t identify the severity of the issue.”

The rebar, installed at the Unit 3 construction site, is part of the basemat that forms the “nuclear island” upon which the reactor and other components will rest.

Inspectors determined the manner in which pieces of rebar are connected to increase strength differs from design specifications approved for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors being built at the Burke County site.

Hannah said the discrepancy doesn’t mean conclusions have been drawn as to whether the different method of joining rebar is better or worse than design standards.

“Those determinations would be made later,” he said. “Our inspectors identified it as a design change that had not gotten prior approval from NRC.”

Although regulators did not order a halt to further installation of the rebar, Southern Nuclear made a decision not to continue that portion of the work until there is some sort of resolution, he said.

So far, about 35 workers have been idled.

The matter was addressed briefly this week by Southern Company Chairman and CEO Tom Fanning, during an earnings conference call with analysts.

“We expect to receive official notice of this finding from the NRC,” Fanning said. “In the meantime, we are engaged in constructive discussions with the consortium to identify appropriate action. We can reasonably expect to encounter additional inspection issues between now and the time the new units are completed as they are a normal part of the nuclear construction process.”

One possible resolution is for Southern Nuclear to apply for a license amendment to allow the non-conforming rebar to remain in place, Hannah said. Such a request could be honored only if NRC staff reviewed the issue and concluded it would meet accepted standards.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
burninater 04/26/12 - 06:12 pm
Failing to follow design

Failing to follow design specs on something as simple as rebar installation does not inspire confidence.

douglasdon 04/26/12 - 09:11 pm
Design specs were followed

Design specs were followed perfectly. Those design specs, however, were changed by a process that did not include seeking NRC approval. Thus, the design no longer matched what was approved by the regulator.

Sweet son
Sweet son 04/27/12 - 02:47 pm
You know that there are a

You know that there are a boatload of inspectors on the site. All of the rebar was delivered and laid in a pile before being installed. Wouldn't it seem that one of the inspectors would have noticed it before the 1st piece was installed. Wonder how much that was installed is in question?

atom.girl 04/27/12 - 04:45 pm
Hey Southern Company FIX IT!!

Hey Southern Company FIX IT!! You don't want to get caught with the Leaning Tower of Poison Power STOP LOAN GUARANTEES FOR NUKES

KSL 04/27/12 - 08:32 pm
Sweet son, it might not have

Sweet son, it might not have been a noticeable flaw. Grain structure of the metal, which has to be tested, may be the problem. I am speaking to your comment about being "noticed" and I'm simply addressing the amount of information provided in this article.

bob_queenan 05/01/12 - 06:37 pm
Folks, these are skilled

Folks, these are skilled craft, not fly-by-night contractors. It's quite possible that someone made an *improvement* in the way the rebar was tied together. Can we at least wait to see if it's better or worse before we tear it all out ??

eapps 08/08/12 - 09:39 am

First off, rebar is not simple. Especially given its a nuke plant. So the details are anything but standard and simple. Second, it sounds like the question is not the material but its connections. Rebar can be spliced, layed side by side to create uniformity, or it can mechanically coupled. Mech splices differ. There are a few types. Maybe they used one over the other. There is one type that is the simplest to use called a barlock. However NRC may not have evaluated and approved its use in this application. But it is approved for use in all other types of projects. So I agree with Bob, let them evaluate and make a conclusion? And Chronicle can you post exactly what the problem is? Get a little more specific?

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
Augusta VA supervisor sentenced to prison
In what the judge called a "tragic case," a former Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center supervisor was sentenced Thursday to 27 months in federal prison for making false statements in medical files.