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Fluor report also shows concerns over V.C. Summer construction


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Fluor report also shows concerns over V.C. Summer construction

A newly disclosed report outlines concerns related to oversight, limited worker experience and a "very aggressive schedule" at the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion in South Carolina. The report, conducted by Fluor Corp., reveals similar concerns at the Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant expansion in Georgia.

The report was prepared in October 2016 for now-bankrupt lead contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC. It was recently obtained by The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., and provided to S&P Global Market Intelligence by V.C. Summer co-owner Santee Cooper. Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said the report was released because of a Freedom of Information Act request received earlier this fall.

Santee Cooper, known legally as South Carolina Public Service Authority, said it was not aware of the report until after Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in late March. "We learned about it during our own analysis of the cost to complete the project after Westinghouse's bankruptcy," Gore said.

SCANA Corp. utility South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and Santee Cooper decided on July 31 to halt construction of the two new 1,117-MW reactors in Fairfield County, largely blaming Westinghouse's bankruptcy and failure to disclose concerns over the project's construction timeline and cost overruns.

"If Westinghouse had not declared bankruptcy and lived up to its commitments, I believe we'd both be building this project. I think we'd still be moving forward," outgoing SCANA Chairman and CEO Kevin Marsh told lawmakers. Marsh announced his retirement in late October amid tense legislative scrutiny into the failed V.C. Summer project and billions in sunk costs falling to ratepayers.

Former Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter announced his retirement in late August.

The Fluor report is the second audit released in recent months outlining problems with the scrapped Summer reactors.

Gov. Henry McMaster in September publicly released a project audit performed by Bechtel Corp. in February 2016 that warned of "fundamental" oversight problems, schedule slippage, reactor design concerns and "poor" construction productivity more than a year before the cancellation of the twin reactors. SCANA management was steadfast in legislative hearings that the report was a confidential document that verified the plant owners' concerns with Westinghouse Electric.

SCANA told S&P Global Market Intelligence that it could not provide the Fluor report because of a confidentiality agreement with Westinghouse. Fluor did not immediately respond to a request for information about the report.

The owners of the Vogtle nuclear plant expansion are still evaluating completion of the project. "It is not our intent to cancel the project," Jeremiah Haswell, Georgia Power Co.'s director of nuclear development, said during a Nov. 6 hearing before the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Power, the majority owner of the planned nuclear units, is a subsidiary of Southern Co.