by Will Davis
Washington Public Power Supply System Project 3, located at Satsop, Washington. Many utilities significantly overestimated future demand and over-ordered plants; this plant, designed by EBASCO, was one example. It was never completed.
At this fourth installment of the series on the “First Nuclear Era” build of nuclear plants in the United States, it might be worthwhile to pause a moment and reflect upon the findings so far:
•Only in about 1969 did the US AEC acknowledge that there were significant problems with rising cost and schedule slippage in nuclear plant projects. These problems primarily resulted from the broad attempt to move nuclear plant design and construction as well as equipment manufacture from a fairly limited scale to a very broad one. As might have been expected orders for very specialized large pieces of equipment became a brief bottleneck until industry responded by increasing capacity (in the sense that new vendors appeared in addition to existing ones expanding capacity). The longer term issues that appeared at this time were labor (lack of skilled labor and productivity of that skilled labor) as well as organized public opposition to the plants – the aim of which was to bog them down in endless hearings (more of which we’ll read about in detail in a future installment.)
•Significant inflation affected the US economy beginning in the early 1970’s and this of course included the cost of nuclear plant projects.
•Once there was a large industry and large labor force supporting the design and construction of nuclear plants and the fabrication of their parts, predicted delays began to shrink when the number of annual orders dropped. In other words, demand for skilled engineering, management, labor and parts was more closely met by the established field. For example, trained workers could relocate from one nuclear project to another.
by Will Davis