Thursday, February 9, 2012

NRC ready to license Georgia nuclear plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said today it has finished safety and environmental reviews that clear the way for licensing of the first U.S. nuclear reactors in a generation.

The NRC said it expects to issue combined construction and operating licenses for two new reactors at the Vogtle plant near Augusta, Ga., within 10 days. Site preparation is already underway. A subsidiary of Southern Co. is building the plant.

No new U.S. nuclear plant has been licensed for construction since 1978.

Nine anti-nuclear groups, including North Carolina's Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and the N.C Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, said Wednesday they will ask the NRC to delay the Vogtle license so they can file a challenge in federal court.

Vogtle will use Westinghouse Electric's AP1000 reactor, a new design that would shut down without electricity or human intervention during accidents. The NRC certified the design in December.

Charlotte-based Shaw Power Group shares a contract with Westinghouse to build the Vogtle plant and a two-reactor AP1000 addition to the Summer plant, also expected to be licensed soon, northwest of Columbia.