Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Federal Government May Decide on Permit for Nuclear Reactors Soon

A decision on whether work can begin on two new nuclear reactors in Waynesboro is expected within weeks.

The U.S. Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has issued a decision that clears the way for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve an early site permit for the new reactors. A review by the board found that safety and environmental issues are sufficient to issue the permit.

It's a crucial development in the process, one of the most significant decisions on the reactors so far. The NRC may decide on the permit in about two weeks, according to a spokesman with that agency.

The permit, which basically deems the site suitable for construction, would be among the first issued for new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in decades. A limited work authorization may also be granted soon, allowing employees to do some preliminary work at the site.

The board is still reviewing Plant Vogtle's application for a combined construction and operating license, which would allow for full construction to begin.

Plant Vogtle is also at the center of a controversial rate increase approved by the Georgia legislature for Georgia Power ratepayers, which will help pay for construction of the reactors. Georgia Power is a majority owner of the plant.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an environmental group that has opposed the reactors, plans to appeal the decision.

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