Staffers at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission say they believe the new nuclear reactors to be built at Plant Vogtle are safe.

Approval of the Westinghouse AP1000 design sets the stage for final commission approval.

Southern Company President and CEO Thomas Fanning said in a news release that the approval is a “significant step forward” in licensing the Vogtle project. The company wants to build two new reactors at the plant near Waynesboro. They would be first new reactors in decades.

Final design approval from the NRC is expected by the end of the year or early next year.

The commission had raised questions about the reactors’ safety, but said an updated design submitted in June resolved those issues.

The two new units at Plant Vogtle are scheduled to go online in 2016 and 2017.

Contributors: GPB's Joshua Stewart contributed to this report.

Tags: Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Plant Vogtle, nuclear power plant, AP1000, Georgia nuclear reactors, nuclear power, reactor design