Plant Vogtle’s new reactors are progressing properly under the critical oversight of resident and regional inspectors, according to a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission who toured the site Tuesday.
“The NRC as a safety regulator has a very key role in making sure this project is completed according to all regulations,” said Commissioner William Ostendorff, who has served on the panel since 2010 and voted in 2012 to license the Vogtle project.
“This is my third visit to this site in 2½ years,” he said, noting that he worked with staff to evaluate member Southern Nuclear’s application for the first combined operating license that authorized the first new U.S. nuclear power expansion in 30 years.
The plant is also a major economic driver for the region, both through construction jobs now and permanent jobs to emerge later, said U.S. Rep. John Barrow, whose 12th District includes Burke County.
Congress, he said, made new nuclear plants possible by creating the new combined operating license framework in 2005 that allows both the construction and the operation of a nuclear facility.
“Up till that time, you could get permission to construct the thing, but then you couldn’t operate it,” said Barrow, who joined Tuesday’s tour.
“They could change the rules before you got permission to operate it.”
Tim Echols, a Georgia Public Service Commission member in the tour group, said the Vogtle project represents historic firsts in a revitalized nuclear industry.
“This is a point of pride for Georgia,” Echols said. “We feel like we are leading the nation.
“We want to see this project completed as close to on time and within budget as possible.”