Westinghouse, the lead supplier for the V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion project in South Carolina, said on August 30 that it had successfully placed the reactor vessel for the new Unit 2.

The 278-metric-ton vessel was rigged into place by one of the largest construction cranes in the world, a heavy lift derrick with a 560-foot front boom, plant owner South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) said (Figure).

V.C. Summer
The 278-metric-ton reactor vessel for V.C. Summer Unit 2 is rigged into place inside the containment building. Courtesy: SCANA Corp.


“The reactor vessel is the heart of the AP1000 plant, and its placement signals a pivot point for the construction phase of the project at V.C. Summer Unit 2,” said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse senior vice president, new plants and major projects. “With the reactor vessel in place, the focus will shift to installing the steam generators later this year, and then the plant will start to come to life with initial energization of systems next year.”

Most of the two-unit expansion project’s components have been delivered to the site, including the Unit 2 steam generators, though some elements, particularly for Unit 3, are still being fabricated. The project has experienced somewhat fewer delays and setbacks than the Vogtle expansion in neighboring Georgia, though a major shakeup in the contractors last year resulted in CB&I being replaced by Fluor, and costs have run about $1.37 billon over the original estimate, SCE&G said in its most recent update.

Unit 2 is expected to come online in 2019 and Unit 3 in 2020.

Placement of the reactor vessel proceeded without incident, unlike a similar operation at a plant under construction in Belarus, where Rosatom workers dropped that plant’s reactor vessel in early July.

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).