Commercial operation of the new Unit 3 reactor at the Georgia Power Vogtle NPP has been delayed for at least another month. Georgia Power company officials announced on 16 June that the 1100 MW steam turbine powered by Unit 3’s nuclear reactor had been shut down owing to a cooling system problem traced to its sealing arrangements. This has pushed back the commercial operation date of the unit, one of two new reactors at the site, to July.
Georgia Power says that the unit’s steam turbine ‘has a problem’, later described as a degraded seal in the hydrogen system that is used to cool its main electrical generator. The reactor has been shut down while repairs are made. The reactor had already achieved full power output as part of the testing process, which Georgia Power said on 17 June was 95% complete. Vogtle, which is seven years behind schedule, has seen the cost that its owners will pay double to more than $31 billion.
Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle are the first entirely new reactors being built in thirty years in the USA. Units Vogtle 1 and 2 have been generating electricity at Vogtle for decades. The fourth reactor on the site, the second of the two new units, has finished a key testing phase and operators expect to start loading radioactive fuel between July and October, aiming for the reactor to reach commercial operation between December and March 2024.
Image: The Vogtle 3 site (courtesy of Georgia Power)