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First coronavirus case reported at Georgia nuclear plant project

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Too early to say if completion delayed: Southern Company

Additional worker test results pending

Washington — The first coronavirus infection has been confirmed at Georgia Power's Vogtle nuclear plant construction site, the utility said Monday.

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There was one confirmed positive test result out of 69 people at the site tested, the company said in a statement. There were 54 negative test results, with 14 results still pending, it added.

Georgia Power and three partners are completing two 1,150-MW nuclear units at Vogtle, near Augusta, with the first new unit scheduled to enter commercial operation in November 2021. The project is the largest industrial construction site in Georgia, with 9,000 workers, most of them contractors, at the plant, trade union officials have said.

There is a risk the coronavirus pandemic could delay the completion and testing of the two new reactors, although it is too soon to tell for certain, Southern Co., Georgia Power's parent company, said in a financial filing April 1, before the positive test result.

Construction of the project is about five years behind schedule and has exceeded the initial budget by more than $10 billion as the result of first-of-a-kind design, licensing and construction issues.

The company notified and sent home those who worked with the person who tested positive, Georgia Power said.

"Construction work continues at the site under continuing enhanced protocols designed to reduce worker-to-worker contact and keep areas that workers frequent cleaned and sanitized," the company said.

In a filing with the Georgia Public Service Commission April 1, Georgia Power officials said the construction site had established an expanded on-site medical clinic and put in place "aggressive" measures to keep workers in the field further apart.