Southern Nuclear wants federal regulators to issue a license to add new reactors to Plant Vogtle immediately after the project is approved, which could allow work to commence 30 days sooner.
The request, made during hearings this week at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Maryland headquarters, involves waiving a 30-day publication requirement in the Federal Register before construction of Units 3 and 4 is formally authorized.
“We have asked that the combined operating license be issued immediately after affirmation, and not have to be published for 30 days,” said Steve Higginbottom, a company spokesman, during a telephone interview from Wednesday’s final session of the hearing.
The intent of the publication period is to allow those affected by the action to prepare to implement the new rule.
“Our position is, because we are the applicant, we are the ones most affected by it, and we would be able to immediately implement the rule-making as soon as it is affirmed,” Higginbottom said.
The two-day hearing, which began Tuesday, is the first of its kind under the government’s streamlined
program to simultaneously authorize the construction and the operation of new commercial nuclear power reactors.
Southern Nuclear’s $14.8 billion plan to add new units to Plant Vogtle would be the first to receive such a license, and the project would also be the first new reactor built in the U.S. in almost three decades.
Wednesday’s final sessions of the license hearing included presentations from both NRC staff members and Southern Nuclear on emergency planning, cyber security, startup and testing protocol, and other facets of bringing new reactors online.
Although the hearing ended Wednesday, the commission is not expected to make a decision on the license until early 2012 and still must certify the final design of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors that will be used at the Burke County project.
“We are still anticipating receiving the COL by the end of the year,” Higginbottom said. “We are ready to move ahead as soon as it is affirmed.”