Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Power Plant

The Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Power Plant is located on 2,244 acres near the city of Baxley, Georgia. The plant uses two General Electric boiling water reactors with a total peak output of 1,726 megawatts. The original peak capacity was listed at 1,848 megawatts but had since been downgraded. The plant was named after the former president and chairman of Georgia Power. Georgia Power is the parent company of the Southern Nuclear Operating Company, the owners and operators of the plant. Competitor, Oglethorpe Power, owns a minority interest in the plant. The Edwin I. Hatch Plant supplies power to over 2 million customers.

Construction of the Edwin Hatch Nuclear Power Plant began in 1968. When commercial operation of the first reactor started in 1975, the plant became the first nuclear power plant in Georgia. Reactor 2 went online four years later, in 1979. The original licenses for the reactors to remain operational were extended in 2002, allowing for Unit 1 to continue operating until 2034 and Unit 2 to continue operating until 2038. The reactors at Plant Hatch were the first boiling water reactors to receive extended licensing in the U.S.

The facilities are comprised of the two reactors, a turbine room over 200 yards in length, eight cooling towers, and a containment building. In addition to these main facilities, the plant includes an environmental laboratory, a switchyard, a substation, and a control room. A visitor center is open to the general public year-round and provides tours of the plant.

The Hatch Plant employs over 800 people. Some of the positions at the lab include engineers, technicians, reactor operators, electricians, mechanics, and security. Edwin I. Hatch supports and spearheads a number of environmental initiatives. A land management program was put into place for the plant in 1987. Focuses were on 1,414 acres of woodlands surrounding the plant and the wildlife supported by those woodlands. In 1994, the plant became a member of the Wild Life Habitat Council, an international non-profit group that develops strategies to enhance the world’s wildlife.

Although the plant has a storage and containment facility for spent fuel, it has reached capacity due to the delay in the construction of the national repository for nuclear waste in Nevada. This has forced the plant to use above-ground dry-storage containment to supplement their spent fuel pools. In addition, the presence of other unsafe materials makes plants like this one even more dangerous, as they contain potentially toxic materials, such as asbestos. Asbestos poses a threat because of its frequent usage in these facilities as an insulator against heat. However, when it ages and becomes exposed it poses a cancer threat because of its tendency to fragment into small particles that embed in the protective layer around the organs of those exposed, leading to the development of mesothelioma.