Concerns on waste sites rejected by safety panel

A contention by environmental groups that Southern Nuclear's plan to add two reactors at Plant Vogtle did not adequately address low-level radioactive waste storage issues was rejected this week by the Atomic Safety & Licensing Board.


The ruling by the three-member panel eliminates the last of several contested issues the intervenors' group had raised and -- unless an appeal is filed -- clears the path for Southern Nuclear's continued effort to get a combined operating license to build and operate the new reactors, said Joey Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The waste issue involved the exclusion of nuclear plants in many states -- including Georgia -- from using a low-level waste burial ground in Barnwell, S.C.

The site once accepted waste from 37 states. In July 2008, it limited itself to waste from only South Carolina, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The intervenors contended, among other things, that Southern Nuclear's application for a combined operating license to build the new reactors did not provide adequate information on how the waste would be handled and stored if no offsite facility were available.

The judges disagreed.

"We find these purported failures to provide detailed information regarding design, location, and worker health impacts do not identify a deficiency" in the company's application, they wrote.

The intervenors include the Center for a Sustainable Coast, Savannah Riverkeeper, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Atlanta Women's Action for New Directions and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.