Shield building panels installed at Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion project

Georgia Power reported that the first two sets of double-decker shield building panels around the outer wall of the Unit 3 containment vessel have been placed as part of the Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion near Waynesboro, Georgia, US.

The shield building panels, fabricated in Newport News, Va., provide structural support to the containment cooling water supply and protect the containment vessel, which houses the reactor vessel and associated equipment.

A total of four six-panel sections were placed, with each one measuring 20 feet tall and 114 feet wide. Weighing from 180,000 to 300,000 pounds, the heaviest panels are placed on the west side of containment where the shield building ties into the auxiliary building walls and roof. The shield building is made of steel and concrete in what is known as a steel composite design.

Each placement of shield building panels requires a team of approximately 15 individuals ranging from a crane operator, riggers, spotters, engineers and project managers who work together to ensure each section is placed precisely.

Vogtle 3 & 4 construction senior vice president Glen Chick said: “Placing the six-panel assembly was a new method for us – one that allowed us to set two full courses in just four lifts, thus drastically shortening the duration for setting shield building courses.”

The shield building panels are a unique feature of the AP1000 reactor design at the Vogtle nuclear expansion, providing an additional layer of safety around the containment vessel and protecting it from any potential impacts. To date, more than half of the shield building panels have been placed for Unit 3.