Georgia EPD will hold public meeting on air permits for Plant Vogtle's new reactors

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Georgia's Environmental Protection Division will hold a public meeting in April to discuss draft air quality permits associated with the $14.5 billion addition of two new reactors to Plant Vogtle.

The permits are needed because of air pollution that could be created by the plant's emergency diesel engines, which will be kept at the site in case electrical power is unavailable whenever the nuclear plant is shut down.

"There would be a total of 13 engines, and also diesel fuel storage tanks," said Tom Moorer, the environmental affairs manager for plant operator Southern Nuclear. "The large ones are there to provide emergency power in the event the plant must shut down and offsite power is not available."

As part of the requirement for state air permits, the engines were modeled to calculate emissions such as nitrogen oxides and other ozone-contributing pollutants.

Georgia's Air Protection Branch proposed approval of the permit application after concluding that the engines "will not cause adverse impact on ambient air quality" or create any health risks.

The modeling was required because emissions could exceed a pollutant threshold that triggers a requirement for additional data.

Moorer said the model used to calculate emissions was overly conservative and was based on an assumption that the engines were operated 24 hours a day all year -- a total of 8,760 hours.

In reality, however, the engines would likely operate about 200 hours a year -- during periodic readiness tests required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, he said.

Similar diesel engines are onsite to serve the two existing Vogtle reactors.

The public meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. April 6 in the auditorium of the Waynesboro campus of Augusta Technical College. Copies of the permit and related documents are on file at the Burke County Library.


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