At noon today, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is scheduled to hold an affirmation session. The second item on the agenda is listed as “b. Southern Nuclear Operating Co. (Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4), Docket Nos. 52-025-COL & 52-026-COL – Draft Mandatory Hearing Decision (Tentative).” The meeting will be available via a webcast.
The widely held expectation is that the meeting will result in the first issuance of a combined license (COL) ever under the one step license process developed over the past 20 years in 10 CFR 52. In that process an applicant references a complete design for a particular site and the NRC approves both the construction and operation of the power plant based on a detailed environmental impact statement, the approved design and an approved inspections, tests, analyses, and acceptance criteria (ITAAC) program.
Though there will be some reason to celebrate this landmark decision, I can’t help wonder what the heck has taken so long. The technical staff work to support this commission decision was finished and published in August and September of 2011. (See AP1000 design certification history and the Vogtle nuclear power station COL history.)
I’ll admit that I have a financial interest in the decision – I have been patiently investing for several years under the assumption that the truth about nuclear energy’s technical superiority over its competition will eventually be recognized and allowed to be proven in the market. My modest portfolio will benefit as the talented people associated with new nuclear power plant design and construction succeed despite the focused efforts of thousands of well endowed and politically powerful opponents.
Here’s hoping – and investing – in the notion that clean, reliable, affordable energy is something that most Americans want and will begin demanding from their government decision makers.
In a seemingly unrelated story, Germany decided to start up five of the nuclear plants that its government forced to shut down in the weeks following the Fukushima events. I suppose that people finally figured out that energy is an important ingredient in modern living and that reliable, emission-free nuclear plants should be allowed to help meet the market demand.
Rebecca Smith has a good article in the Wall Street Journal titled Southern Nears Reactor Approvals.
In contrast, the Washington Post insists on quoting reliable antinuclear activists like Peter Bradford and Jim Riccio in an article titled NRC expected to give Georgia nuclear reactors the green light