Savannah, Ga. – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) criticized the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review of potential risks that would be posed in the building of two more nuclear reactors at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle, situated along the Savannah River near Augusta, Ga. The federal agency recently released their environmental assessment of the project for one step of the permitting process. SACE challenges that serious threats to water quality and supply, pubic health, and overall environment, were overlooked.
“Most people would suspect that spending more than $14 billion on a controversial energy project that will lock up the Savannah River’s resources for decades and decades into the future would have some major environmental impacts,” said Sara Barczak, program director with SACE in their Savannah office. “So we are disappointed, though not surprised, by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s assessment. It’s not unusual for this agency to grant exactly what the electric utilities want while overlooking the large implications this proposal has for those communities reliant on the river. This is just one step in a very long process—Southern Company has a long way to go.”
The Early Site Permit is the first step by Georgia utilities to obtain federal approval for new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. Southern Company’s nuclear division, Southern Nuclear Operating Company, filed for the permit with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in August 2006 on behalf of Plant Vogtle’s co-owners, Georgia Power (a subsidiary of the Southern Company), Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) and Dalton Utilities. If approved, the permit could be used at any time for up to twenty years in any future applications with the NRC. A final decision from the NRC on the early site permit is not expected until 2009. The final Environmental Impact Statement just released by the NRC represents just one phase of the review process.
Citizen groups, Atlanta WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions), Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Center for a Sustainable Coast, Savannah Riverkeeper and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, legally challenged the permit to stop the proposed expansion of nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County along the Savannah River and the case is ongoing. The Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic, along with attorney Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., are representing the organizations.
The December 2006 petition filed by the intervening organizations can be downloaded at http://www.cleanenergy.org/mediaRoom/index.cfm?pressID=157&sortorder=pressdate&flow=1
For more information on the NRC’s Vogtle early site permit application process, visit http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-licensing/esp/vogtle. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. For more information, go to: www.cleanenergy.org