A Bechtel-led team today placed the massive dome on a new nuclear reactor building at Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Georgia, the site of the only nuclear power facilities currently under construction in the U.S. When complete, Plant Vogtle will be the nation's largest generator of carbon-free electricity.
Weighing approximately 745 tons and measuring 130 feet in diameter, the dome, known as the "top head," is the roof of the high-integrity steel structure that contains Unit 3's nuclear reactor. The dome was lifted into place by a giant crane. The setting was completed by 9:45 a.m., following a complex rigging operation that lasted 90 minutes.
The milestone drew the attendance of several dignitaries and executives, including U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp; President of North America's Building Trades Unions Sean McGarvey; Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Tom Fanning; and, representing Plant Vogtle owners, Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Paul Bowers.
The placement follows the completed installation of Unit 3's nuclear steam supply system — the reactors, reactor coolant pumps, steam generators, pressurizer and associated piping. These are the essential elements of the unit's nuclear power system, used to generate the steam needed to drive the unit's turbine generator to produce electricity.
"I am proud of our team for completing these milestones safely and demonstrating our drive to deliver these units as promised for our customer and this community," said Bechtel Project Director Brian Reilly. "We stand firmly behind Vogtle 3 and 4 as a safe, reliable solution for carbon-free electricity for Georgia homes and businesses, and we are proud to be a part of building the future of nuclear power in the United States."
Progress on Unit 4
Unit 4 marked a milestone of its own in January, with the placement of the 225,000-pound pressurizer inside Unit 4's reactor building. The pressurizer will provide pressure control inside the reactor coolant system during unit operation.
Bechtel has completed more than 74,000 megawatts of new nuclear generation capacity and has performed engineering or construction services on more than 80 percent of nuclear plants in the United States and 150 plants worldwide.
Bechtel is 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.
The Vogtle Units 3 and 4 team is working to have Unit 3 and 4 ready for commercial operation in 2021 and 2022 respectively.