A day after a historic vote to license the first new nuclear power reactors in the U.S. in 30 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected a petition from environmental groups seeking a seven-day delay before Plant Vogtle’s $14 billion expansion is formally allowed to proceed.
Five groups, including Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, sought the “housekeeping stay” to allow more time to review the NRC’s 101-page order that will provide Southern Nuclear with a combined operating license authorizing both construction and operation of the two new units.
That request was rejected early Friday, according to a copy of the order from the office of NRC Secretary Annette L. Vietti-Cook.
The groups plan to pursue the matter further in court over contentions that regulators have more work to do under federal law “to address new and significant information regarding the environmental implications of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Accident.”
In Thursday’s 4-1 vote to approve the Vogtle expansion, the lone dissenter was NRC Chairman NRC Gregory B. Jaczko, who attached a 12-page statement to the order in which he outlined a series of safety concerns also related to the March 2010 disaster in Japan.
Although new safety programs have been developed in the past year, Jaczko contends those improvements must be formally implemented before the NRC allows new reactor construction to commence.
“Knowing that new safety enhancements are under development, some of which I consider necessary for adequate protection, I cannot support authorizing operation with no more than an expectation that they will
be timely implemented,” he wrote.
NRC officials have said the Vogtle license will be issued within 10 days. The new units are scheduled to go online in 2016 and 2017.