Nuclear Plant Coping with Delays

JENKINSVILLE – A review by the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) of the 2013 third quarter report by S.C. Electric & Gas (SCE&G) on two new reactors being built at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Western Fairfield County has revealed additional delays that could add as much as $200 million to the cost of the project.

“ORS has identified several ongoing construction challenges that pose a potential risk to the on-time completion of the Units,” the ORS review states. “The most significant issue is the continued delay in the delivery of the structural sub-modules. Despite continuing high-level management and executive focus from Chicago Bridge and Iron (CB&I), Westinghouse Electric Company and SCE&G, the delivery and quality problems associated with these sub-modules are still not satisfactorily resolved. Delays in these sub-modules affect almost all subsequent critical path sequences in the construction schedule.”

ORS reported in its review of SCE&G’s 2013 second quarter report that SCE&G had announced that Westinghouse and CB&I, SCE&G’s engineering, procurement and construction partners in the project, had indicated a delay of the Unit 2 completion from March 15, 2017 to Dec. 15, 2017, and a delay of the Unit 3 completion from May 15, 2018 to Dec. 15, 2018. The potential delay, the ORS review stated, is primarily because of challenges in the project schedule related to delays in sub-module fabrication and delivery, specifically the CA01 module – a structural module that sits inside the containment vessel and forms the refueling canal, steam generator compartments and pressurizer compartment.

CB&I “continues to be the focus of intense management attention,” the ORS review states, noting that CB&I has shifted work on the CA04 and CA03 modules, as well as the Shield Building modules, from their Lake Charles, La. factory to other fabricators. Because of “production and quality issues” at CB&I, fabrication of the Shield Building modules has been reassigned to Newport News Industries in Virginia. Shipment of the completed squib valves for the Units is also on hold, the review states, as their manufacturer addresses anomalies uncovered during testing of the valves, as well as deficiencies in the valves discovered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The estimated costs associated with the delays is approximately $200 million; but, since SCE&G has not accepted responsibility for these costs, the ORS report does not include an increase to the cash flow attributable to the delay. As of Sept. 30, 2013, SCE&G forecasted gross construction cost of the project at $5,651 billion, compared to an approved cost of $5.755 billion – a decrease of approximately $104 million.

“Ultimately, SCE&G believes that the portion of the $200 million estimate for which SCE&G will be responsible, if any, will be substantially reduced once all relevant factors are considered,” a spokesperson for SCANA, of which SCE&G is a subsidiary, said.

Overall construction is considered to be on schedule, the ORS review noted, if the substantial completion dates are not delayed more than 18 months. As of Sept. 30, 2013, the ORS review states, 92 of the 146 milestone activities had been completed. Sixteen yet to be completed milestones had been delayed 10 months or more, while two milestones had been delayed 15 months.

SCANA said the delays noted in the ORS review were previously discussed by SCE&G as far back as June 2013. The sub-module delays at CB&I, she said, “remain consistent with the dates that were reported during the second quarter of 2013. . . . The projected substantial completion dates for both Units remain within the 18-month schedule contingency.”

Unit 2 CA01 Module

“Fabrication and delivery of the sub-modules being manufactured at CB&I continues to challenge the schedule,” the ORS review states. Of those, the CA01 module “remains one of the major critical concerns and challenges to the schedule of the project. None of these sub-modules have been completed or shipped to the site. . . . The CA01 module is currently the most critical activity in the assembly of the nuclear island building because it must be placed before setting of the CV rings can progress beyond the first ring. This critical path activity is behind schedule and could further delay the completion date.”

Unit 2 CA20 Module

“Delays also continue with the fabrication and delivery of the CA20 sub-modules from CB&I,” the ORS states. “The sub-modules needed to proceed with the final assembly of module CA20 are not yet on site. This may impact the construction of the shield building and further delay the project.”

Unit 2 Shield Building

Fabrication of the Shield Building modules has been reassigned from CB&I to Newport News Industries. Fabrication is under way, but no sub-modules have been delivered to the site and a detailed schedule for their delivery was not available at the time the ORS completed its review. “In addition, work associated with completing the mock-ups to field test activities associated with the installation of the shield building modules has now been scheduled to be completed in early 2014.”

Unit 3 Modules

A revised sub-module delivery schedule for Unit 3 had not been released at the time the ORS conducted its review. “These sub-modules, and therefore the associated modules, are behind schedule,” the ORS review states.”