Vogtle Construction Fines (copy)

Construction at Plant Vogtle in Georgia is pictured in this file photo.

The size of the workforce behind the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle has reached an all-time high, according to a recent announcement from Georgia Power, a co-owner.

Approximately 8,000 workers are now on site for the project, according to the announcement. More than 400 craft workers – pipe fitters and electricians, mostly – came aboard last month.

The two-reactor buildout is the largest "jobs-producing construction project" in the state of Georgia, according to the announcement, which was made July 1.

Vogtle, about an hour drive south from Aiken, is home to two operating nuclear reactors. Another two – Unit 3 and Unit 4 – are currently being built.

Once completed, they will be the first new nuclear units built in the U.S. in three decades. As of May, the project was about 77% complete, according to a Georgia Power fact sheet available on the Plant Vogtle website.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued construction and operating licenses for the tandem project in 2012.

A similar project in South Carolina, at V.C. Summer in Fairfield County, was abandoned in 2017. The consequences of that failure are still unfolding.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited Plant Vogtle in March. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette did as well about a month later.

Perry was accompanied by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and North America's Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, among others. The former governor of Texas lauded the Vogtle expansion in a speech to workers and in a later question-and-answer session with reporters.

"You know, I'm pretty happy about what I'm seeing here," Perry said at the time.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin