Georgia Power takes next step for Vogtle 4

21 July 2023

Georgia Power says that all 364 inspections, tests and analyses have been performed and all acceptance criteria, known as ITAACs, have been met on Vogtle unit 4 and the documentation submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Vogtle 3 and 4 (Image: Georgia Power)

The ITAACs - Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria - must all be verified before fuel can be loaded into the new reactor. ITAACs are standards identified in the combined construction and operation licence for the plant which must be satisfied to provide reasonable assurance that the facility has been constructed and will operate in conformity with the licence, the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954, and the NRC's own rules and regulations. Most of the ITAACs arise from the design certification for the particular reactor technology used in the plant, with the rest being site-specific. A licensee cannot operate a facility until the NRC has verified that all ITAAC acceptance criteria are met, and the regulator has issued a finding to that effect under regulation 10 CFR 52.103(g): the 103(g) Letter.

The next stage, says Georgia Power, which is a subsidiary of Southern Power, is for receipt of the 103(g) finding from the NRC and then "no further NRC findings are necessary in order for Southern Nuclear to load fuel and begin the start-up sequence".

All 157 of the 14-foot-tall fuel assemblies required for the operation of Vogtle 4 have now been delivered to the site and inspected and transferred to new fuel storage racks before being placed into the used fuel pool where they will be stored until loaded in unit 4's reactor.

The unit completed hot functional testing - which confirms the reactor is ready to be loaded with nuclear fuel - in May. Fuel loading is expected to take place later this year, with Vogtle 4 scheduled to enter service either late this year or early in 2024.

It is now just over 10 years since construction of two Westinghouse AP1000s began at the site near Waynesboro. Work started on unit 3 in March 2013 and unit 4 in November of that year. Vogtle 3, the first new reactor to start-up in the USA since 2016, reached first criticality in March, was connected to the electricity grid in April and reached full power on 30 May and is in the final stages of start-up testing.

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. The units are co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, and will be operated by Southern Nuclear.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News