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3,800 new jobs in Vogtle's future

Buildings are being demolished and pine trees are being cut as work begins on the site where two new nuclear reactors are being built at Plant Vogtle -- 30 miles north of Sylvania.

The project eventually will mean a number of new jobs – 3,000 at the peak of construction four to five years from now and 800 permanent, full-time jobs to operate the plant seven or eight years from now.

Work has begun removing trees and concrete foundations of old buildings at the site. Some construction trailers are being set up at the site, providing temporary office space. “We’re getting ready,” said Beth Thomas, spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear Co., based in Birmingham, Ala.

The company is still working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on getting the required licenses. So far, they are licensed to do site work as long as it doesn’t involve safety systems. They hope to get permission to work on safety systems starting in 2011, Thomas said. Meanwhile, they have plenty to do to keep them busy. “We don’t anticipate that slowing us down,” she said.

Pending approvals from the NRC, Unit 3 will go online in 2016 and Unit 4 will go online in 2017. She said she isn’t sure when hiring will begin for the 800 permanent jobs at the plant.

At the peak of construction in 2013 to 2014-- 3,000 people will be working for The Shaw Group to build the two new reactors, Thomas said. Job information can be found at: www.shawgrp.com/careers. As of Tuesday, the site listed 17 jobs available in Waynesboro, ranging from a computer technician that requires an associate’s degree and five to eight years of experience to a nuclear geotechnical engineer that requires a bachelor’s degree and 15 years of experience.

Demolition of warehouses and other buildings started in March when the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to authorize two reactors at the plant. One building remains to be razed.

Some buildings have been moved to other parts of the site while others were destroyed. The concrete they sat on will be pulverized for reuse as gravel.

Pine trees are being chipped to augment mesh silt fences around the site to keep loose soil from washing into the Savannah River. The goal is to recycle at least 60 percent of the materials that were on the site before construction.

Next month, The Shaw Group will begin excavating 90 feet below the foundations of the two reactors to sift out sandy soil.

By January, the holes will be refilled with claylike soil to ensure solid compaction for protection against an unlikely earthquake, said David Jones, the vice president on site for Southern Nuclear Operating Co., which operates Plant Vogtle.

The NRC will be reviewing the plant's blueprints in consideration of a construction and operations permit expected in 2011.

At the same time, workers will be digging a barge slip and cutting roads from the slip to the construction sites. Components weighing as much as 900 tons will come by barge from Savannah, said Ellie Daniel, the spokesman for Southern Nuclear.

-- Information from Morris News Service was used in this report.