Steel plates sent to Plant Vogtle fail NRC inspections

At least 211 steel plates built for use in Plant Vogtle’s new reactors failed inspections by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The plates, or “embedments,” are structural strengthening components that can be encased in concrete and have protruding steel rebar to which other materials can be attached.

According to an NRC event notification dated Thursday, inspectors found “noncompliances and deviations” in the material, which had been received from Cives Steel Co., of Valdosta, Ga., but had not yet been used in reactor construction.

“Examples of the types of deviations identified include unacceptable welds and weld repairs, missing Nelson studs, damaged Nelson studs, improper painting, incorrect dimensions, and illegible markings for identification,” the document said.

The embedments were part of a shipment that included 892 plates, with an average size of 18 by 18 inches. The embedments can be used in walls and floors.

A more detailed investigation to determine the extent of the problem – and any potential effect on the project – will be completed by Nov. 6, the report said.

The inspectors and officials from Shaw Group, the company hired to build the $14 billion project, identified the issues before any plates had been installed, an NRC spokesman said.

Quality control issues have arisen before at the project. Other matters have involved rebar that differed from the approved design.

The plant’s owners are working to address those issues by investing more in quality assurance programs and staffers.

In an Aug. 31 interview, Buzz Miller, the executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, told The Augusta Chronicle that as many as 150 additional workers could be needed to bolster oversight programs that ensure materials meet strict nuclear standards.

In its most recent report to the Georgia Public Service Commission, the company said final projected costs for quality assurance, oversight, operational readiness and regulatory compliance rose from a projected $621 million in 2009 to $755 million in 2012.

Quality assurance workers, he said, have been deployed in many U.S. sites where materials for the Vogtle project are being made – and to supplier venues in Japan, Korea and Italy.

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