Hot functional testing complete at Vogtle 4

02 May 2023

Completion of the testing - which confirms that the reactor is ready for fuel load - is a major step towards commercial operations for the second AP1000 reactor at the site. The unit is projected to enter service towards the end of this year or early in 2024.

The Vogtle site will soon be home to four operating reactors (Image: Southern Company)

Hot function testing, during which plant systems are brought to normal operating pressure and temperature, without nuclear fuel in the reactor, to demonstrate the systems will operate on an integrated basis as designed, began at Vogtle 4 in March.

Vogtle 4 is one of two Westinghouse AP1000 units being built at the site: unit 3 began supplying electricity to the grid in early April. Construction of unit 4 began in November 2013, and timelines issued by the company earlier this year have suggested that fuel loading at unit 4 is envisaged in June.

Hot functional testing was completed at unit 4 in "significantly less time" than the same tests had taken at unit 3 thanks to lessons learned from the first unit, Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Kim Greene said. "It's incredible that these new units will provide our state with zero-emissions energy for the next 60 to 80 years, and that's thanks to the dedication of the teams at the site to getting these units built, and built right," she added.

Georgia Power said its team will now focus on completing the remaining work necessary to submit documentation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that all inspection, tests and analyses have been performed and all acceptance criteria, collectively known as ITAACS, have been met as required under the unit's combined operating licence. Each ITAAC closure notice must be verified by the NRC before fuel can be loaded into the reactor.

Vogtle 3 and 4 are co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, and will be operated by Southern Nuclear. The site, near Waynesboro in Georgia, is already home to two commercially operating pressurised water reactors. Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power are both subsidiaries of Southern Company.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News