ATLANTA (AP) – Nuclear regulators on Thursday said they were paying more attention to the two nuclear reactors under construction at Georgia Power Co.’s Plant Vogtle after a special inspection found the cables electrics were not properly separated.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it has finalized its findings after declining a decommissioning request from Southern Nuclear Co., the Atlanta-based Southern Co. unit in charge of building the reactors. Southern Nuclear could still appeal.
The special inspection is what independent auditors hired by Georgia utility regulators have long said: The contractors and Southern did a shoddy job while rushing to meet unachievable deadlines, forcing the job to be redone. .
Regional Administrator Laura Dudes wrote on Wednesday that the commission will schedule an additional inspection of reactors near Augusta to ensure the causes and extent of the problems are understood and to ensure corrective actions address these root causes and prevent the problem from recurring. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct the inspection after Southern Nuclear has declared itself ready.
Southern had called for two separate violations to be combined into one, which could have reduced the commission’s opinion on the seriousness of the problem. The inspectors classified their findings on the power cables as having a “white” or “weak to moderate” significance, one level above the lowest level of green.
John Kraft, spokesperson for Georgia Power, another subsidiary of Southern Co., wrote in a statement that the company is working with the commission and “fully recognizes the importance of the issues.”
“Corrective actions have been and continue to be implemented by Southern Nuclear which will correct all identified issues,” Kraft wrote.
Dudes wrote that the commission is happy with Southern’s responses to what happened and how it is resolving issues and that the company doesn’t have to respond further unless something changes.
The findings came after a special inspection in June. Electrical wiring systems are believed to be designed to prevent a single problem from damaging safety equipment.
The commission says it will not let Southern Nuclear load radioactive fuel into the plant until it meets all standards.
Other owners include most of Georgia’s electric co-ops and municipal utilities. The Jacksonville Electric Authority of Florida and some other municipal and cooperative utilities in Florida and Alabama are also required to purchase power from the plant.
Georgia Power projects Unit 3 will begin producing power in the third quarter of 2022. Unit 4 is now expected to come into service between April and June 2023.
The commission launched the review after Southern Nuclear reported about 600 cases in which the work did not meet cable separation requirements. Inspectors found that Southern Nuclear had not adequately separated the cables from the reactor coolant pumps and the equipment designed to safely shut down the reactor.
The reactors, approved in 2012, were initially estimated at $ 14 billion, with the first new reactor scheduled to start production in 2016.
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