Vogtle area has seen little growth

The closest nuclear power plant to Augusta lies within one of Georgia's least populated areas.

Plant Vogtle, in Burke County, first brought its reactors online in 1987 and 1989, when the countywide population was 20,579.

Since then, that population, and the number of residents living in the 10-mile radius that could be evacuated during an emergency, has changed very little, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

By 2000, the population had grown to 22,243 and has since grown just 4.8 percent, or 1,073 residents, to 23,316, the 2010 census reported. The county's current density of 28 people per square mile remains well below the state average of 167.

Plant Vogtle's operator, Southern Nuclear, maintains a detailed emergency plan that includes an annual mailing of the document -- on a household calendar -- to the 1,800 residents living in the "emergency planning zone" around the site.

The company also provides emergency data online and maintains a network of warning sirens and other devices.

Larger numbers of residents live within 10 miles of Southern Nuclear's other two plants.

Similar emergency response calendars are mailed to about 3,800 residents near Plant Hatch in Baxley, Ga., and to about 4,500 residents near Plant Farley in Dothan, Ala.

Southern Nuclear opened a $2 million "joint information center" in January adjacent to Georgia Power Co.'s headquarters in Waynesboro, about 20 miles from Plant Vogtle.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

Quick Census Bureau facts about Burke County, Ga.:

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13033.html

Plant Vogtle's 2011 emergency evacuation plan:

http://www.southerncompany.com/nuclearenergy/pdf/Vogtle_2011_calendar.pdf