Board calls for better waste plan

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An application to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle needs a more detailed plan for disposal of low-level nuclear waste, according to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

Plant Vogtle has arranged for about 95 percent of its low-level radioactive waste to be sent to Energy Solutions in Utah, according to Beth Thomas, a Southern Nuclear spokeswoman.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Plant Vogtle has arranged for about 95 percent of its low-level radioactive waste to be sent to Energy Solutions in Utah, according to Beth Thomas, a Southern Nuclear spokeswoman.

In a recent ruling, the three-member panel found that Southern Nuclear must develop a better long-term storage plan before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can issue a permit for it to build the proposed nuclear reactors.

"Basically, what it says is that they don't think there is enough information for the staff to make an adequate determination as to whether the waste plan meets the criteria," said Roger Hannah, a commission spokesman.

The issue of low-level waste was raised by environmental groups opposed to the plant's expansion and involves the recent exclusion of many states -- including Georgia -- from a low-level waste burial ground in Barnwell, S.C.

The Barnwell site historically accepted waste from 37 states. In July the site limited its facility to waste from South Carolina, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"They (the board) basically said Southern Nuclear has not adequately addressed the disposal of low-level wastes because the Barnwell facility is closed to Georgia plants," Mr. Hannah said.

The board wants the applicant to better explain how radioactive nuclear waste would be managed if a storage site remains unavailable when the new reactors begin operation, said Sara Barczak, the program director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, one of the intervening organizations.

Plant Vogtle has arranged for about 95 percent of its low-level radioactive waste to be sent to Energy Solutions in Utah, said Southern Nuclear spokeswoman Beth Thomas.

"The remainder is safely stored at the plant site until another approved facility is available," she said. "We plan to implement that same management plan for any low-level material that might be generated by units three and four."

The company, she added, believes the board's concerns have been addressed and will withstand further scrutiny by the commission's staff.

The environmental group's contention involving waste disposal is being admitted as part of Southern Nuclear's application for a combined operating license at Vogtle.

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

What's next:

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will conduct hearings Monday through March 19 in Augusta on Southern Nuclear's application to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle. The board will hear presentations at 8:30 a.m. Monday and continuing through March 19, as necessary. All sessions will be at the Doubletree Hotel and Convention Center, 2651 Perimeter Parkway.

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jhvenier
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jhvenier 03/11/09 - 06:48 am
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Hopefully congress will push

Hopefully congress will push the stream line process through to get these new plants built quicker. I agree a process needs to be in hand to assure bases are covered but, the process is way too long, it allows for all the wacko's to state a bunch of unfounded crap. If there are legal, or actual concerns, they should be put all together into one presentation, not 50 different and which 49 are nothing but ignorant. It is time to build new nuclear plants, we have ignored that for way too long.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 03/11/09 - 07:20 am
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Georgia is blessed with an

Georgia is blessed with an abundance of undeveloped areas that sit on heavy clay soils - - perfect for low-level waste burial. It's time someone gets the ball rolling for a low-level waste disposal site in Georgia so Georgia Power's nuclear plants don't ship all that stuff to Utah. Tarrytown, in Montgomery County, might be a good place.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/11/09 - 02:17 pm
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Little Lamb, be careful what

Little Lamb, be careful what you wish for or Energy Solutions will be opening a facility here. There are currently 3 places for low level wastes and with the demise of Yucca Mtn "they" are looking hard. Of course, Harry Reid says leave it where it is created. Energy Solutions in Utah now plans to bring in 20,000 tons of waste from Italy against the wishes of the Governor of Utah.

Rich424
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Rich424 03/11/09 - 02:37 pm
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This is really a case of the

This is really a case of the chickens coming home to roost. For over 20 years now, Democrats throughout this country have, at every opportunity, blocked licensing of low level radioactive waste disposal sites and nuclear power plants. The Barnwell facility closed to other states because that state eelcted a Dem governor and legislature that closed the site. Now, when we are trying to license Nuclear power plants to protect our planet from global warming, and during the last campaign, Obama blames Republicans for not developing clean energy. What a crock. This is a perfect example of their hypocrisy. As if appointing a tax cheat to head up the IRS wasn't a big enough clue.

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