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Friday, June 1, 2012

Southern’s Nuclear Reactors May Be Delayed, Monitor Says

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-31/southern-s-nuclear-construction-faces-added-delays-monitor-says

Bloomberg News

Southern’s Nuclear Reactors May Be Delayed, Monitor Says

 

i-NUCLEAR

Schedule slips and costs rise on Southern’s new build twin AP1000s at Vogtle site in US

by I-Nuclear
The twin Westinghouse AP1000 reactors being built at Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear site in the US state of Georgia are already 7.5 months behind schedule and are likely to run over the estimated $6 billion a piece cost, the official construction monitor has said.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission had granted combined construction and operating licenses for the reactors to Georgia Power’s parent company, Southern Corp., in February.
The Vogtle-3 and -4 reactors are being built under an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract with a consortium made up of Westinghouse and the Shaw Group.
William R. Jacobs, Jr, the independent construction monitor for the Georgia Public Service Commission, said in testimony May 30 that the commercial operation dates for the reactors has been pushed back from April 1, 2016 and April 1, 2017 for Vogtle-3 and -4, respectively, to November 13, 2016 and November 13, 2017, respectively.
Further schedule slippages can be expected, Jacobs said, noting that Southern and Westinghouse/Shaw have yet to settle a disputed nearly $400 million in existing additional design costs and project delays and have yet to agree on an integrated project schedule for the reactors.
Jacobs said that Shaw, manufacturer of the AP1000 modules, had yet to demonstrate the required production rate of high quality modules to meet schedules.
“In my opinion, the company [Southern/Georgia Power] will need to request an increase in the certified cost and a change in the certified schedule to a later completion date,” Jacobs told the Georgia Public Service Commission.
“The amount of cost increase and schedule delay is dependent in part on the results of the current negotiations between the company and consortium as well as future consortium performance,” he said.
Westinghouse and the Shaw Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jacobs said the new schedule didn’t include delays related to a redesign of a component, the identification of which has been redacted from his written testimony for commercial reasons.
The new dates also don’t account for delays resulting from a re-do of the nuclear island rebar installation.
Jacobs said that prior to placement of first nuclear concrete, a significant amount of construction work in the nuclear island must be completed, including installation of multiple layers of rebar, floor drain piping, embeds, sumps, and other design features.
Initially, installation of rebar was progressing ahead of schedule, but in April NRC inspectors determined that the rebar installed was not in agreement with the approved design and, additionally, its installation did not meet the controlling American Concrete Institute code.
It was discovered that approximately one year earlier, a design change was issued by the Westinghouse/Shaw consortium that was intended to relieve rebar congestion in the area where the first layer of horizontal rebar meets the vertical wall.
This revised design should have been evaluated and processed as a departure or a license amendment, but that never happened and in the end the consortium and company agreed to change the design of the installed rebar back to a design in agreement with the DCD [approved design documents], Jacobs said.
“This will involve removing some of the installed rebar and modifying some of the installed rebar to match the [design control document] design.  I estimate that this issue will delay placement of first nuclear concrete by approximately three months until September or October 2012,” Jacobs said.
Although Southern has acknowledged the 7.5 month delay to the original schedule, Jacobs said, the company and the consortium hope to make up the lost time as the project proceeds.
Jacobs expressed scepticism about the ability to make up lost time.
“I believe that the project schedule status is unclear because a reasonable, achievable Integrated Project Schedule (IPS) that all parties agree to and support does not exist at this time,” Jacobs said.
“Development of a reasonable, achievable IPS is one of the goals of the current negotiations between the company and the consortium, he said.
Jacobs added that there are an increasing number of change orders that could have a significant impact on the project cost and schedule going forward.
“Until the commercial issues impacting prospective project activities are resolved, it will be difficult for the company and consortium to agree upon and fully support an IPS,” Jacobs said.
The cause for project delays, the responsibility for the delays, the cost of the delays and the cost for recovering some of these delays must be resolved before all parties can agree on a schedule, he said.
For the moment, he said, the project is being managed based on short-term forecasts showing work to be accomplished in the next 60 to 90 days.
“A first-of-a-kind project of this magnitude and complexity cannot be effectively or efficiently managed using 60- to 90-day forecasts over the long term,” Jacobs said.—David Stellfox
I-Nuclear | June 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Categories: AP1000, Financial, New Build, NRC, Regulation, US, Westinghouse | URL: http://wp.me/p22dAl-h3

 

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