Southern Nuclear requests expedited Vogtle license

Waiver of publication rule requested

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011 12:23 PM
Last updated 8:50 PM
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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.”

READ MORE ON PLANT VOGTLE

and its two new reactors at augustachronicle.com/topics.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/29/11 - 05:07 am
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The headline on the opening

The headline on the opening page: "Quick Start for Vogtle Reactors" kind of throws me. Some things just don't fit a quick start. Maybe jumping off a car with a dead battery or starting tomato plants inside before the cold has gone, but a doggone nuclear reactor starting with jumper cables doesn't make my morning personal mantra of feel confident and friendly work like it is supposed to. Kind of makes me scared and paranoid.

MKG
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MKG 09/29/11 - 09:46 am
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Riverman1, Hold on to your

Riverman1, Hold on to your shorts. The process for approving the license is not a Quick Start. The application has been under intense review since 2007. The design has been under review since 2005. Tens of thousands of manhours by industry experts, representing Southern and the NRC, have been spent on the process for obtaining approval. The review and approval process alone costs over $100 million. Southern provided the information needed for the application in 2007 and has been answering questions since then.

Rob - This is another example of focusing the reader upon their fears of nuclear technology. The only reason Southern is requesting the quicker approval is to reduce the costs of the project; why not give them some credit for this? I would like to see you tell both sides of the story when reporting this type of news.

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