Utility Georgia Power has ordered the first nuclear fuel load for the Vogtle-4 nuclear power plant under construction in the US state of Georgia, completing the initial fuel order needed to operate the first newly designed reactors in the US in 30 years.
Fuel for Unit 3 was ordered last summer and completing the fuel order for Unit 4 marks another significant milestone at the Vogtle project, the company said.
The fuel, consisting of 157 fuel assemblies, will eventually be loaded into the reactor vessels to support startup once the reactors begin operating. After the initial fuelling, about one third of the total fuel assemblies will be replaced during each refuelling outage after the units begin operating, similar to the process used at existing Vogtle units 1 and 2.
Georgia Power also said workers have installed 10 of the 16 shield building courses of panels that surround the Unit 4 containment vessel. The shield building is a unique feature of the AP1000 reactor design for Vogtle-3 -4, providing an additional layer of safety around the containment vessel and nuclear reactor to protect the structure from any potential impacts.
Georgia Power has not said when the units will begin commercial operation, but said the project to build the two Generation III+ 1,117-MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power reactors is now about 84% complete. Construction of Unit 3 began in March 2013 and of Unit 4 in November 2013.
Vogtle-3 and twin Vogtle-4 are the first commercial nuclear plants to be built in the US in a generation and the only new units under construction in the country.
Last month the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it had received notice from Georgia Power’s parent company Southern Nuclear announcing plans to load nuclear fuel into Vogtle-3 starting on 23 November 2020.