The safe delivery of 200 tonnes of internal components to the Vogtle nuclear plant construction site has marked a milestone for the AP1000 reactor project.

Westinghouse completed the transport of the reactor vessel internals for Vogtle 3 from its New Hampshire nuclear components manufacturing facility to the Georgia construction site using two shipping skids, one carrying 114 tonnes of components for the reactor’s lower internals and the other carrying the 85 tonnes of components for its upper internals. The shipment travelled through the ports of Portsmouth and Savannah and by land.

The primary functions of the reactor vessel internals are to support and stabilize fuel assemblies inside the reactor vessel, provide the path for coolant flow and guide the movement of control rods.

Vogtle 3 and 4 are 1200 MWe (gross) Westinghouse-designed AP1000 units, and are being built alongside two existing pressurized water reactors at the Waynesboro site. Construction of both units formally began in 2013, and the reactors are scheduled to start operation in 2019 and 2020. The units are being built by a contractor consortium of Westinghouse and CB&I/Stone and Webster. They will be operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Company on behalf of owners Georgia Power (47%), Oglethorpe (30%), MEAG (22.7%) and Dalton Utilities (1.6%).

The AP1000 design uses modular construction techniques, enabling large structural modules to be built at factories and then installed at the site. This means that more construction activities can take place at the same time, reducing the time taken to build a plant as well as offering economic and quality control benefits. According to Westinghouse, factory-built modules can be installed on-site within a planned three-year construction schedule.

In addition to Vogtle, AP1000s are currently under construction at the VC Summer site in the USA and at Sanmen and Haiyang in China. All four Chinese units are scheduled to be in operation by the middle of 2016.

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