US NRC Clears Vogtle-3 for Fuel Loading After Years of Delays

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Georgia Power's Vogtle-3 was this week cleared for fuel loading and operation, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced Aug. 3. The decision followed "years of diligent and careful work by the team at the site" in the US state of Georgia to satisfy "398 required inspections, tests, analyses, and acceptance criteria ... helping ensure the unit meets strict nuclear safety and quality standards," Georgia Power said in its announcement. Fuel loading will take place over the next several weeks followed by "several months of startup testing and operations." Work on the twin AP1000 newbuilds, the first such project in the US in a generation, began in 2009 with operations forecast for both units by 2017. But the NRC didn't approve construction until 2012 after the agency ordered a redesign of the AP1000 reactor containment building. Delays and cost overruns plagued the project, but it survived the 2017 bankruptcy of primary contractor Westinghouse, which led to the demise of a parallel AP1000 project in neighboring South Carolina. Total project costs originally targeted at $14 billion are estimated to now be more than $30 billion.

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