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AP IMPACT: Building Costs Rise At US Nuclear Sites

Supplying parts efficiently for the new reactors has also proved difficult. William Jacobs Jr., the state monitor hired by Georgia utility regulators, has publicly questioned whether a factory run by The Shaw Group can master quality control rules and deliver parts on time. NRC inspectors have faulted the facility for failing to maintain accurate records on the qualifications of workers. SCANA Corp. raised similar concerns.

Shaw spokeswoman Gentry Brann said the company has addressed the NRC's concerns.

In Tennessee, internal reviews faulted the Tennessee Valley Authority for not providing enough oversight on the project and for allowing a culture to develop that discouraged the sharing of bad news, for example, site problems that led to delays. Not enough engineering work was finished before construction started, meaning construction workers sometimes did not have enough work to do.

In an embarrassing episode, the TVA temporarily stopped work at the site in January after two mishaps revealed safety problems. No one was injured, and the operating plant did not experience any problems. In one case, workers removed a cable connected to equipment in the working reactor. In another, they cut out valves before getting proper clearance and verifying the system was safe.

Changes have been made to bring the project under control, said Mike Skaggs, who became the authority's senior vice president of nuclear construction in October. He said the TVA has carefully evaluated the remaining work on the reactor, slimmed down its workforce and made instructions to work crews easier to understand.

Skaggs has been involved in building two other nuclear plants and said the project requires constant monitoring.

"If you've got a good estimate, you use the estimate as a roadmap to complete the project," Skaggs said. "What I'm most worried about is the assumptions we've made in the estimate â¿¿ are they ringing out true?"

___

Follow Ray Henry on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rhenryAP

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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