Bechtel completes nuclear power plant construction site in Georgia

By Jenny LescohierApril 27, 2021

The Passive Containment Cooling Water Tank module weighs 720,000 lbs and measures 35 feet tall with an outer diameter of 85 feet

Bechtel completed a major milestone in the construction of one the only two nuclear power plants currently under construction in the U.S. as it worked to set a massive cooling water tank on Georgia Power’s Vogtle Unit 4 in Waynesboro, Georgia on April 25.

Setting the tank weighing more than 720,000 pounds, including the outfitting and rigging, is the last major crane lift for the Unit 4 team and for the construction of the plant which will create more than 800 permanent jobs when it begins operating.

“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.”

The Passive Containment Cooling Water Tank, known as CB-20, is a major part of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor’s advanced passive safety system. It measures 35 feet tall with an outer diameter of 85 feet. 

“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.”

Facts about the Passive Containment Cooling Water Tank:

  • The tank is a major part of the AP1000 reactor’s advanced passive safety systems.
  • The AP1000 plant’s passive safety systems require no operator actions to mitigate potential emergency situations. These systems use only natural forces such as gravity, natural circulation and compressed gas to achieve their safety function. No pumps, fans, diesels, chillers or other active machinery are used, except for a few simple valves that automatically align and actuate the passive safety systems.
  • The tank will hold approximately 750,000 gallons of cooling water ready to flow down into the containment vessel in the unlikely event of an emergency to help cool the reactor, even if external power is lost.
  • The water can also be directed to top off the spent fuel pool, while the tank itself can be refilled from water stored elsewhere on site.
  • The modules used for Vogtle Units 3 and 4 were made in advance of arriving to the project site and ready to be assembled into larger components that make up the nuclear units. Since 2011, major modules were delivered to the site by rail and truck and included a range of plant components such as floor and wall sections and supporting structures that surround the containment buildings and reactor vessels.
  • The final major module arrived at the construction site in late 2019, meaning all 1,485 major modules required to complete construction had been manufactured and safely delivered.
  • Fit-out and preparation continues inside, but setting the module completes the distinctive silhouette of the AP1000 design.

With more than 7,000 workers on site and the permanent positions available once the units begin operating, Vogtle 3 and 4 is currently the largest jobs-producing construction project in the state of Georgia. Once operating, the two new units at Plant Vogtle will be able to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses.

Bechtel has completed more than 74,000 megawatts of new nuclear generation capacity and has performed engineering and/or construction services on more than 80% of nuclear plants in the United States and 150 plants worldwide.

Bechtel is responsible for completing construction of Vogtle Units 3 and 4 under the management of Southern Nuclear, the Southern Company subsidiary that operates the existing two units at Plant Vogtle. Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are the first Westinghouse AP1000 units to be built in the U.S.

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