The owners and chief contractors of two new reactors being built at the V.C. Summer nuclear station in South Carolina have reported a major milestone, placement of the reactor vessel in the containment building of Unit 2.
This is the first reactor vessel to be set at a new nuclear plant in the U.S. in more than 30 years, SCANA (NYSE:SCG) utility South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and its Santee Cooper said in a news release.
The cylindrical-shaped reactor vessel will house fuel that powers the reactor along with other related components. The robust, protective steel structure is approximately 35 feet tall and weighs approximately 305 tons.
Because of its significant weight, the reactor vessel was transported from the Port of Charleston to the construction site on a specialty rail car, which is designed to carry heavy loads. One of the largest cranes in the world, a heavy lift derrick with a 560-foot front boom, lifted the reactor vessel and placed it in its permanent location, the power companies said.
“Successful placement of the Unit 2 reactor vessel is a very significant milestone on our path to completing the construction of the two new nuclear units,” said SCANA Chairman and CEO Kevin Marsh.
SCE&G and co-owner Santee Cooper are building two 1,117-MW Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in Fairfield County, S.C. Westinghouse Electric is the contractor, and Fluor (NYSE:FLR) is the construction manager.
“The Westinghouse-Fluor team has hit several important milestones this summer, and I congratulate them for the good progress they are achieving,” said the President and CEO of state-owned utility Santee Cooper Lonnie Carter.
Roughly 3,800 Westinghouse personnel and subcontractor workers are on site daily. When the two units start generating electricity, SCE&G anticipates more than 60% of its generation will be non-emitting.
SCE&G has posted a 42-second youtube about placement of the reactor vessel. The units are scheduled to enter operation in August 2019 and August 2020 respectively.
Westinghouse Electric became chief contractor on the project last year with the purchase of CB&I Stone & Webster, the nuclear construction and integrated services business of Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE:CBI).
Not long after that deal was consummated, the utilities moved to negotiate a new fixed price contract with Westinghouse.
Westinghouse Electric said in its new release that successful placement of the reactor vessel into the nuclear island of the AP1000 Unit 2 at the V.C. Summer site on Aug. 30 marks a major shift in the project from solely structural work to assembly of the unit’s reactor system itself, including pumps, piping and cabling.
“The reactor vessel is the heart of the AP1000 plant, and its placement signals a pivot point for the construction phase of the project at V.C. Summer Unit 2,” said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse senior vice president, New Plants and Major Projects. “With the reactor vessel in place, the focus will shift to installing the steam generators later this year, and then the plant will start to come to life with initial energization of systems next year.”
In addition to Unit 2, Westinghouse also is constructing an additional AP1000 reactor (Unit 3) at V.C. Summer in South Carolina and two AP1000 units for Southern (NYSE:SO) utility Georgia Power, and its partners, at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. Westinghouse is nearing completion of the first four AP1000 plants which are located in China at Sanmen and Haiyang.