Plant Vogtle opponents file appeal to block new nuclear reactors' license

Environmental groups filed a complaint in a federal appeals court April 18 asking the court to block a combined construction and operating license (COL) for two new reactors at Southern Co. (NYSE: SO)’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia, according to Bloomberg.

The NRC on April 16 denied a request by the nine environmental groups that it halt construction at the two reactors, which led to the filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. NRC approved the COL on Feb. 9 by a 4-1 vote, and the groups asked the appeals court March 20 to review and then reject the license in a petition filed with that court, the article said.

The groups argue that the new reactors do not take into account the lessons learned from the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in March 2011, and that the NRC should have prepared a supplemental environmental impact statement addressing the environmental implications of the Fukushima accident. An NRC task force recommended several requirements for nuclear reactors in the U.S. in response to the disaster.

“A majority of the commissioners conceded that ‘the Fukushima events were significant, warranting enhancements in safety measures,’” the environmental groups said in the article.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko was the sole opponent of approving the COL for Plant Vogtle, saying that the commission did not ask Southern to implement the task force’s recommended upgrades in response to Fukushima. However, according to the article, he voted April 16 for construction to continue at the plant.

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