The roof of the Vogtle unit 3 shield building - a unique feature of the AP1000 reactor design for Vogtle 3 and 4 - has been set into place at the nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Georgia. Georgia Power has also held the first emergency preparedness drill for the new nuclear units.Vogtle 3's shield building roof was lifted into place on 8 December (Image: Georgia Power)
The shield building provides an additional layer of safety around the containment vessel and nuclear reactor to protect the structure from any potential impacts. The roof section is 135 feet (41 metres) in diameter, 37 feet tall and weighs two million pounds (over 900 tonnes). Its placement follows the setting of Vogtle 3's containment vessel top earlier this year.
The first emergency preparedness exercise for Vogtle 3 and 4, including a review of the site's plans to ensure the protection of the public, has also been completed. "The first drill helps prepare teams ahead of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s evaluated exercise next year and marks the continued transition from construction toward operations," Georgia Power said. The emergency preparedness plan specifies response actions if the site were ever to experience an incident.
Construction of Vogtle unit 3 began in March 2013 and unit 4 in November the same year. Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power, both subsidiaries of Southern Company, took over management of the construction project in 2017 following Westinghouse's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Vogtle 3 is scheduled to enter service by November 2021 and unit 4 by November 2022. Major systems testing began in November at Vogtle 3 in preparation for cold hydro testing and hot functional testing next year.
Four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors are already in commercial operation at Haiyang and Sanmen in China.