Saturday, February 11, 2012
Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant Wins First Reactor Construction Permit In A Generation
WASHINGTON — Federal safety officials voted 4-to-1 to approve the first nuclear reactor construction permit in almost 35 years, overriding U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko.
The commission’s vote on Thursday will allow Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power to expand operations at its plant in eastern Georgia, paving the way for the construction of two new nuclear power reactors at its Vogtle site. The last such project to be approved was in 1978.
Chairman Jaczko in his dissenting vote cited concerns stemming from Fukushima, underscoring long-standing tensions on the commission over the regulatory response to Japan’s 2011 nuclear power disaster.
“I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened,” Jaczko said after the vote at the commission’s headquarters in Rockville, Md. Jaczko had requested a binding commitment that the Fukushima enhancements currently planned would be enacted before the facility begins operations. Southern Company refused to meet this stipulation.
In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company, sought to minimize any differences with the chairman, promising “anything we learn from Fukushima we will bring to bear.” More