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Monday, March 14, 2011 - 12:53pm

Georgia Nuclear Plans Under Scrutiny

Updated: 3 years ago.
Nuclear energy in the U.S. is under review after a massive earthquake and tsunami severely damaged Japanese nuclear power plants last week. The disaster raises questions about two reactors proposed for Plant Vogtle near Augusta. (Photo by Noel Brown))

Plant Vogtle in Burke County is where Southern Company plans to build the first new nuclear reactors the country has seen in three decades.

The reactors' design still needs approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But the threat of nuclear meltdown at several Japanese power plants has some activists calling for a closer look.

Tom Clements with environmental group Friends of the Earth says more tests are needed to see whether the design could withstand a cataclysmic event.

"I think it would be prudent on the part of Georgia Power to announce that they’re putting their license request before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in abeyance while we review the safety of the proposed AP1000 reactor," says Clements.

NRC officials have said they could approve the reactor as soon as this summer.

But Roger Hannah with the agency’s Atlanta office says that could now change.

"If there are issues that come out of the situation in Japan that may affect design features or may affect the way the plant is currently being configured then we would certainly look at that and it could have some effect on the schedule," Hannah says.

Hannah says it’s too soon to know just how the events in Japan will affect the construction of new nuclear plants in the U.S.

Southern Company's CEO says he doesn't expect any impact on Plant Vogtle's construction.

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