The only commercial nuclear plant expansion underway in the U.S. hit a milestone in May, when a team led by Bechtel set a massive cooling water tank atop Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle Unit 3 in Waynesboro, Ga. The installation marks the final major heavy lift for the Unit 3 construction team. Measuring 35 ft tall and 85 ft in diameter, and weighing over 720,000 lb, the tank took a year to assemble at ground level. The tank is an essential safety component and will hold 750,000 gallons of water, which can cool the reactor in an emergency. The cooling tank is a component of one of two AP1000 reactors, Units 3 and 4, that make up the overall expansion. Designed by Westinghouse Nuclear, these are the first AP1000 reactors to be built in the U.S.; Bechtel is constructing both. The AP1000 is the only third-generation reactor to receive design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. To streamline construction, major components have been prefabricated offsite and delivered by rail and truck since 2011. The last of the 1,485 components arrived in late 2019.

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