Southern receives ESP for Vogtle site

27 August 2009

Certain work can start immediately towards building two new reactors at Vogtle after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted an Early Site Permit (ESP) as well as permission for limited safety-related construction.


Vogtle - new reactors

The future look of the Vogtle site? (Image: Southern)

Southern submitted its ESP application for two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the existing two-unit Vogtle site to the NRC in August 2006. A year later, the company filed a request with the NRC for Limited Work Authorization (LWA), which permits the company to start safety-related groundwork in preparation for full construction to begin.


The Vogtle ESP is the fourth to be approved by the NRC, but is the first to be based on a specific reactor design. It is also the first to include an LWA.


The completion of the ESP process resolves many site-related safety and environmental issues and determines the site is suitable for possible future construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant. The LWA allows Southern to begin placing engineered backfill, retaining walls, lean concrete, mudmats and a waterproof membrane at the site. However, actual construction of the new plant cannot begin until Southern receives a combined construction and operating licence (COL) from the NRC.


Southern Nuclear lodged an application for a COL for two new AP1000 power reactor units at the Vogtle site in April 2008. The NRC is currently reviewing this application. Southern subsidiary Georgia Power signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project in April 2008 with the Shaw and Westinghouse AP1000 consortium. In March 2009, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to approve the new Vogtle units 3 and 4, which are slated to enter service in 2016 and 2017, respectively.


The Vogtle plant is jointly owned by Georgia Power (45.7%), Oglethorpe Power Corp (30%), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7%) and the City of Dalton (1.6%).


Buzz Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, commented: "Receiving this ESP on behalf of Plant Vogtle co-owners is a significant accomplishment for Southern Nuclear and for the nuclear industry."


Unit 1 at Vogtle began commercial operation in May 1987, while unit 2 began in May 1989. Each of the Westinghouse pressurized water reactors (PWRs) is capable of generating 1215 MWe. The two new units will each produce 1105 MWe.