Georgia Nuclear Plant Reaches Construction Milestone

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Robison Wells
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On April 25th, the construction team, led by engineering and construction firm, Bechtel, added a massive cooling tank to Plant Vogtle Unit 4, one of only two nuclear power plants currently under construction in the United States. Located in Waynesboro, Georgia, this final crane lift marked the end of a significant phase of the project.

"This is an important milestone for the project and signifies the topping out of the Shield Building for the unit," said Bechtel Project Director Brian Reilly. "Now all modules have been set for both units."

This cooling tank weighs 720,000 pounds, stands 35 feet tall, and spreads 85 feet in diameter.

"I am extremely proud of the team that completed this lift for Unit 4," added Reilly. "They delivered this impressive milestone for our customer safely and with quality. We continue to make progress on the project as we transition these units closer to operation. We are proud to be a part of building the future of nuclear power in the United States and providing a clean, carbon-free energy source."

The tank fits into the nuclear reactor's safety system; it requires no operators to manage and automatically function in potential emergencies. It uses gravity, natural circulation, and compressed gas to operate; no pumps, fans, chillers, or other machinery are involved (aside from valves). The tank holds 750,000 gallons of water that can enter the containment vessel in an emergency that requires an immediate cooldown.

The Plant Vogtle project has been under construction since 2011. The project utilized prebuilt modules, shipped in by rail or truck. Since 2011, work crews have received and installed 1,485 modules. Seven thousand on-site workers see to construction. When completed, officials estimate that the reactor will offer 800 permanent jobs. The plant will generate power for more than 500,000 homes and businesses.


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