Originally created 04/01/04

Vogtle safety efforts earn NRC approval



Safety compliance last year at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Burke County was sufficient to warrant only a routine series of inspections this year by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

According to a letter from the commission to the nuclear plant's owner, Southern Nuclear Operating Co., Vogtle operated safely throughout 2003, and plant performance was at a level requiring no additional NRC inspections.

The letter, to be presented to plant officials today, notes that "Vogtle operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety and fully met all cornerstone objectives."

NRC inspectors plan to visit and evaluate certain components of the site, including the plant's reactor vessel head, penetration nozzles and the spent fuel material control and accounting procedures. Other inspections are scheduled from April through October.

The commission also is evaluating a request from Southern Nuclear to combine the emergency operating facilities for Vogtle with those of two other nuclear plants - Plant Farley in Dothan, Ala., and Plant Hatch in Baxley, Ga.

The request was made last October and remains under scrutiny by the NRC, said Ken Clark, of the commission's Atlanta regional office. The company wants to combine all three emergency facilities into a central site in Birmingham, Ala.

Southern Nuclear has scheduled a demonstration of the capabilities of that central facility for July 14, with supporting activities planned at the affected nuclear power plants.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119,

or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.