Bechtel today congratulated Georgia Power, Southern Nuclear and the other project partners involved, for safely loading fuel in Vogtle Unit 3. Vogtle Units 3 and 4, in Waynesboro, Georgia, are the only two new nuclear units currently under construction in the United States.
The fuel load process marks a historic and pivotal milestone toward startup and commercial operation of the first new nuclear units to be built in the U.S. in three decades.
“Bechtel congratulates Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear on reaching this historic milestone,” said Bechtel Project Director John Atwell. “I want to thank the many men and women who have worked at Vogtle 3&4 who made fuel load possible on Unit 3. We are proud and thankful for the opportunity to work with all of the partners on this project that will have a lasting benefit for the environment and provide reliable, carbon-free energy for years to come.”
At peak, the workforce included 1,500 Bechtel professional staff and nearly 7,500 members of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU).
"Today's fuel load is a momentous occasion; one that has been made possible by the hard work of thousands of NABTU craft professionals,” said Sean McGarvey, NABTU president. "Our members' dedication to this project and commitment to its completion, even in the midst of a global pandemic, stands as a testament to the skill and tradecraft of the incredible men and women who fill our ranks. We commend Bechtel, Southern Nuclear, and Georgia Power for their partnership on this project and are pleased to reach this milestone in bringing clean baseload energy to the Southeast."
During fuel load, nuclear technicians and operators from Westinghouse and Southern Nuclear safely transferred 157 fuel assemblies one-by-one from the Unit 3 spent fuel pool to the Unit 3 reactor core.
Next during startup testing and commissioning, operators will bring the plant from cold shutdown to initial criticality, synchronize the unit to the electric grid, and systematically raise power to 100 percent. Vogtle Unit 3 is projected to enter service in the first quarter of 2023.
Picture: A look behind the scenes at the fuel pool at Vogtle Unit 3, where the fuel assemblies were stored before loading into the reactor core. (Photo: Georgia Power)
Once operating, the two new units at Plant Vogtle will be able to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses.
Bechtel has completed more than 74,000 megawatts of new nuclear generation capacity and has performed engineering and/or construction services on more than 80 percent of nuclear plants in the United States and 150 plants worldwide. Today, the company leads efforts in designing and constructing advanced nuclear plants, key to global efforts on the path to net zero carbon emissions.
Since 2017, Bechtel has been responsible for completing construction of Vogtle Units 3 and 4 under the management of Southern Nuclear, the Southern Company subsidiary that operates the existing two units at Plant Vogtle. Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are the first Westinghouse AP1000 units to be built in the U.S.