Not so good vibrations


The two reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear power plant site in Georgia are already years behind. Originally expected to cost $14 billion with the first unit, Vogtle 3, anticipated to come on line in 2016, neither are finished. The cost is now likely to exceed $30 billion. 

Over the years there have been numerous delays and announcements of new startup dates — this happened four times in the space of six months in 2021.

Contractors sued each other. The reactor manufacturer, Westinghouse, went bankrupt.

And last week, the owners, Georgie Power, a unit of Southern Company, announced that, despite insisting last February that Vogtle 3 would come on line in March 2023, it will be delayed again.

This time, the reason was that operators had discovered not-so-good-vibrations coming from a pipe in the cooling system. That fix will add another $30 million to the final cost.

The Vogtle project exemplifies the fiasco that was the much vaunted “US Nuclear Renaissance” announced in 2007. Of the 34 new reactors once promised under that program, Vogtle 3 and 4 are the only survivors. Vogtle 4 is expected to come on line in 2024. We’ll see.

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