The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded its mandatory hearing on Southern Nuclear Operating Company’s (SNC) application for two Combined Licenses (COL) at the Vogtle site in Georgia. In a 4-1 vote, the Commission found the staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings, clearing the way for the NRC’s Office of New Reactors to issue the COLs.
The Commission imposed a condition on the COLs requiring inspection and testing of squib valves, important components of the new reactors’ passive cooling system.
The NRC staff is expected to issue the COLs within 10 business days. The COLs will authorize SNC to build and operate two AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site, adjacent to the company’s existing reactors approximately 26 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga. NRC construction inspectors have been on-site since April 2010, examining SNC’s activities to prepare the plant’s foundation under a Limited Work Authorization the NRC issued on Aug. 26, 2009.
SNC submitted its COL application on March 28, 2008, and supplemented the application on Oct. 2, 2009. The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) independently reviewed aspects of the application that concern safety, as well as a draft of the staff’s Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER). The ACRS provided the results of its review to the Commission in a report dated Jan. 24, 2011. The NRC completed its environmental review and issued a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Vogtle COLs on March 24, 2011. The NRC completed and issued the FSER on Aug. 9, 2011.
The NRC certified Westinghouse’s amended AP1000 design on Dec. 30, 2011. The AP1000 is a 1,100 megawatt electric pressurized-water reactor that includes passive safety features that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for electricity or human intervention.