Georgia Power is in a race against time and the Covid-19 pandemic to complete and start up Unit 3 of its twin-unit AP1000 Vogtle plant by November 2021, with Unit 4’s start-up slated for 12 months later. Since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 at the site on Apr. 4 the number has climbed at an alarming rate, with 192 confirmed cases as of Thursday, May 7, according to a utility spokesperson. Meanwhile, the first of several “major milestones” — open vessel testing — was only just achieved, according to a May 1 announcement, making it two months behind schedule. The project is also facing a 20% workforce reduction as the developer tries, so far unsuccessfully, to slow the advance of the virus. The effort to complete what would be the only new nuclear power plant in the US in decades, with a total price tag of roughly $28 billion, “remains the most important infrastructure project currently under way in Georgia,” according to the utility. But it is also proving potentially, if not in actual fact, deadly. Of some 9,000 workers onsite, at least 2,000 have been laid off or left voluntarily, posing a nightmare for local health officials who are furiously trying to keep up contact-tracing with each new case while victims self-quarantine, often in trailers or other temporary housing, or head to hospital emergency rooms in an attempt to recover. Georgia’s governor reopened large parts of the state’s economy, starting Apr. 24, ahead of other states, prompting strong criticism from mayors across the state and health officials who said it was too soon.
Nuclear Intelligence 8th May 2020 read more »