Environmental groups, NRC spar over Vogtle licenses - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Environmental groups, NRC spar over Vogtle licenses

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Nine environmental groups are asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take another look at the Construction and Operating Licenses (COLs) for the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle.

"After Three Mile Island, we pressed the snooze button," says the Washington, D.C.-based attorney for the groups Diane Curran. "Now the second has happened and we can't afford to press the snooze button again."

The "second one" Curran is referring to is the Fukushima disaster that struck Japan in 2011.

The nine groups were in U.S. Court of Appeals Monday morning, arguing the NRC violated federal law by not considering the possibility of an incident like Fukushima occurring at Plant Vogtle when granting the first new COLs in 30 years.

"That's one of the lessons that came out of the accident was we have to have measures in place," says Curran. "In case the unthinkable happens, we're prepared for it."

But the NRC has considered all possibilities and the groups' assertions are off base, says Georgia Power.

"Review and approval of the Vogtle COLs has been a thorough, thoughtful, and detailed process," says Georgia Power Spokesman Mark Williams. "We see no cause to delay the construction process under the COLs."

Comparing Fukushima to Plant Vogtle is apples and oranges, Williams adds.

"They are very different," he says. "Geographically. The features of the landscape. Vogtle is nowhere near the ocean."

The environmental groups, including the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, disagree.

They want the current license pulled, and they say Plant Vogtle should have to re-apply under safety guidelines the NRC will require all future COLs to comply with.

Those guidelines take into consideration massive, Fukushima-like disasters.

"They should have to go back and put those requirements in," says BREDL Executive Director Lou Zeller. "It's not too late."

For now, construction on the new reactors continues.

The arguments come down to the court's decision, although it's unknown when that might be made.

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