U.S. Regulators Approve First Nuclear Power Plant In A Generation

The National Regulatory Agency announced it has approved plans for Southern Co. to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia, making it the first new nuclear power plant approved in a generation.

The AP, which reported earlier today that the NRC was poised to give its approval, reports that the $14 billion reactors could be ready as soon as 2016. The AP adds:

“The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

“The NRC approved a new reactor design for the Vogtle plant in December. Utility companies in Florida and the Carolinas also plan new reactors that use the same design by Westinghouse Electric Co.

“The planned reactors are remnants of a once-anticipated building boom that the power industry dubbed the ‘nuclear renaissance.'”

The NRC tweeted that the commission voted 4 to 1 in favor of approval. In the tweet, the NRC said Chairman Gregory Jaczko dissented.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the two new reactors at Southern Co.’s Plant Vogle.

“This important step allows full construction to begin on the first new reactors built in over 30 years and is the result of hard work by Southern Company and its partners, and the NRC,” Karen Harbert, the chamber’s CEO, said in a statement. “This first-ever approval of a reactor under this new licensing regime demonstrates the process works and goes a long way in reducing the risk for other new nuclear reactors to follow.”

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.