Progress of reactors detailed

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SHELL BLUFF, Ga. --- Despite a rainy autumn, construction crews continue to cut deeper into Burke County's sandy soil to prepare for a project that will make Plant Vogtle the first U.S. nuclear site with four commercial reactors.

"At this point, we have 76 months until the first new reactor will start up," said Beth Thomas, a spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear, the plant's parent company.

Vogtle's existing units 1 and 2, which went online in the late 1980s, will be supplemented with two new reactors scheduled to go online in 2016 and 2017 if permitting and construction go according to schedule, she told visitors during a media tour Thursday.

The 42-acre construction zone has bustled with activity since August, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an Early Site Permit allowing limited work to be performed. Crews are working 20 hours a day, seven days a week, to move almost 4 million cubic yards of dirt in preparation for above-ground construction that could begin in 2011 or 2012.

The ambitious schedule would put Vogtle ahead of similar nuclear projects in Illinois, Virginia and Mississippi and would make it the first U.S. site with four commercial nuclear power reactors. Currently, the Palo Verde plant in Arizona, with three units, has the most reactors on a single U.S. site.

As part of the expansion, company officials are re-examining emergency preparedness and security programs at the site.

Clint Hartfield, Vogtle's emergency planning coordinator, said the existing emergency planning zone, which extends in a 10-mile radius from the plant, will remain intact once the additional units are online. Residents within that circle are issued a special radio that can be activated in an emergency.

Security within the site is always being re-examined and strengthened, he said.

On Thursday, for example, convoys of 18-wheelers arrived at the plant hauling preformed concrete barriers that will be installed around the containment buildings and other sensitive areas around units 1 and 2.

As part of the licensing process for the new units, a series of emergency drills and exercises will be scheduled, including a May 19 event that will be monitored and graded by the NRC and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The site preparation work under way involved about 320 workers in September. That work force has grown to more than 600. At the peak of construction in 2013-14, more than 3,000 workers are expected to be at the site.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or

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SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 12/18/09 - 11:42 am
There is a lot of key

There is a lot of key information left out of this article and the path ahead for this project isn't all clear:
1) the Westinghouse AP1000 design is a long ways from being licensed & was recently revealed by the NRC to have design flaws, 2) the Vogtle project is years away from having a construction & operating license by the NRC and that license is, in part, dependent on the status of the reactor design & 3) there is no sign that Wall Street is going to loan billions for costly and risky nuclear projects. So, the prudency of this project is up in the air. Other than those "minor" details all is well!

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 12/18/09 - 12:59 pm
It seems that the Eagle Eye

It seems that the Eagle Eye has become clouded with fiction rather than facts. I wonder if he assisted Al Gore in inventing the internet?

specialist 12/18/09 - 06:50 pm
Imigine if the clown in the

Imigine if the clown in the white house and congress had invested all those billions into a crash program to build 50 nuclear plants all around the country, how that would have satisfied the oil demand and the emission situation all in one fell swoop!

UncleStrom 12/18/09 - 06:56 pm
You know it's bad when the

You know it's bad when the French and Arab (not Persian Iran) realize that nuclear power is the way to go, then go ahead and do it. OPEC nations are building reactors, what does that tell ya?

KSL 12/18/09 - 08:31 pm
Tells me that many Americans

Tells me that many Americans are stupid.

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