US Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues licenses for private consortium to setup up nuclear reactors
New York (USA) – After thirty years, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday has issued licences to a consortium of utilities led by a Fortune 500 company Southern Co to build two new nuclear reactors in the state of Georgia. The panel which approved the licenses to build the reactors was apparently divided.
There happened to be a strong opposition from NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko who was worried about the safeguards in the wake of many nuclear accidents like that of Japan’s Fukushima disaster last year. ”I cannot support this licensing as if Fukushima never happened,” Jaczko is reported to have said.
Previously when NRC issued a licence for setting up a new reactor it was 1978, one year prior to the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania. The proposed reactors will be installed in the Vogtle nuclear power plant complex approximately 300 km from Atlanta. The state has two reactors, already.
Proposed to be setup at $14 billion, the new reactors are a Westinghouse design called the AP 1000. The two nuclear reactors are expected to generate 2,200 megawatts of power, according to a spokesman for Southern Co. The Department of Energy is to provide conditional $8.3 billion loan guarantee.
The first reactor is scheduled to be commissioned by 2016 and the second one a year later, according to Southern Co. Several anti-nuclear groups are proposing to challenge the NRC decision in the federal court on the grounds that the nuclear reactor design selected lacks adequate safeguards.
Approval for the Southern Co led consortium is expected to encourage more projects to move forward. Nuclear power currently constitutes 20 per cent of power generation in the US. The Obama administration has however offered its support for the nuclear power programme.
Meanwhile, Obama administration has approved of the project besides admitting its’ expressed support.