The challenge, filed Aug. 12 by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the Center for a Sustainable Coast and Georgia Women's Action for New Directions, contends that the design of the new reactors to be built at the Burke County site is vulnerable to a certain type of corrosion.
Specifically, the intervenors contend that the proposed containment inspection program for the new AP1000 reactors "will fail to determine whether corrosion or degraded coatings create an undue risk that holes, cracks or other through-wall penetrations of the containments at the two reactors could foreseeably lead to outside leakage of radioactive material in the event of an accident."
The groups have asked that the board admit the new contention for further consideration as Southern Nuclear moves forward in its quest for a combined operating license to construct and operate the plant.
Southern Nuclear is reviewing the petition and will issue a formal response in accordance with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's guidelines, said company spokeswoman Beth Thomas.
"The groups have questioned the NRC's approved, established methods regarding inspection of the containment vessel and the application and inspection of protective coatings to the containment vessel," she said. "The AP1000 design is under review by the NRC as part of the commission's standard process. That review will ensure that all aspects of the design are evaluated and all technical issues are resolved prior to final design certification."
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is an arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that includes a group of administrative law judges formed to hear challenges in the nuclear licensing process.