NRC approves first new nuke plants in over 30 years

posted at 11:00 am on February 10, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Here’s some news that will probably drag Jane Fonda out of retirement and back on the war path. It also provides us with a rare opportunity to praise the Obama administration. For the first time since 1978, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved licenses for the construction of two new nuclear power plants to be built at the existing Vogtle site in Georgia.

The commission voted 4-1 in favor, with NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko casting the sole vote against granting the license. Jaczko said later that he wanted binding assurances that the new reactors would be modified to meet recommendations made by the agency’s task force on the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last year.

“I think this license needed something that ensured that the changes as a result of Fukushima would be implemented,” Jaczko said in an interview after the vote. “It’s like when you go to buy a house and the home inspector identifies things that should be fixed. You don’t go to closing before those things are fixed.”

Jaczko’s concerns are valid, but shouldn’t have been a reason for a no vote. Southern will need to win the battle of public opinion as well as the expected court challenges coming from as many as ten anti-nuclear power groups. We did learn some important lessons from the Fukushima disaster and the suggested improvements will no doubt be part of the final plan. Assuming this doesn’t get bogged down in the courts, they plan to have the first of the two plants on line in 2016 at a cost of roughly $14B.

This is only a drop in the bucket, sadly, in terms of expanding the nation’s fission reactor capability. 29 other applications have been shelved for years and may never be brought up again. As the article notes, it’s somewhat ironic that a chief factor in stopping the process is the glut of cheap natural gas we have, which is easing the sense of urgency for getting new nuke plants on line. Plus, these plants cost a lot of money to build before they begin delivering any returns on a very large investment. But Vogtle should serve as in interesting test case so we can find out precisely how viable nuclear power will be as part of the “all of the above” energy plan we need.


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It is a lie.

It is approved, but cannot be implmentd.

EPA

Key West Reader on February 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

building them is’nt the problem. Turning the ignition key will be.

JimboHoffa on February 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Yup. What they said.

Technically it’s possible to get new deep water drilling permits for the gulf. How many of those have been handed out lately?

CorporatePiggy on February 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM

But, but, but…..we’ll all die, right?

Its never hurt Homer Simpson either so it can’t be that bad, right?

ManWithNoName on February 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Somebody fell asleep in the Obama Administration. How could they let this happen?? /sarc

Bitter Clinger on February 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

building them is’nt the problem. Turning the ignition key will be.

JimboHoffa on February 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Xattcy

/Shovel ready

Obama approved, EPA doesn’t approve.

Key West Reader on February 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

The Obama government approved nuclear power plants? Georgians will be required to purchase electric cars at some point. There’s always a catch.

HotAirian on February 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Not to worry! Come December there will have been a problem with the application, or something.

KOOLAID2 on February 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

But, but, but, it doesn’t use the sun! Or the wind! That means it’s not sustainable! We don’t need nuclear energy, we just need to cover the country with solar panels and windmills to harvest the energy that Gaia provides!

Srsly though… this is a good move. Fusion will eventually be the best energy source we’ve ever used, but until then good ol’ fission is something we ought to be using to its full potential.

Mr. Prodigy on February 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Axe the builders.

They can’t build.

The Oministration can authorize things. That doesn’t mean you can build them.

Key West Reader on February 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM

“It’s like when you go to buy a house and the home inspector identifies things that should be fixed. You don’t go to closing before those things are fixed.”

Wrong analogy premise.

The “home inspector” found problems with a power plant that suffered a major earthquake and a tsunami. Therefore, as the quote postulates, you shouldn’t close on “your” power plant until the problems with the one he inspected are resolved.

“No home sales in the month of January across US; home inspector list for 123 Maple Ave, Anywhere USA not complete”

BobMbx on February 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM

It’s simply a talking-point for Zero’s political campaign. He can say he is PRO ENERGY, but the plant will never be built, at least not in his perceived next term.

TX-96 on February 10, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Union jobs. Moscow, Ohio had a permit to ya know.

Kenosha Kid on February 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

s/to/too/ duh

Kenosha Kid on February 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

This will surely boost sales of the Chevy Volt.

WashJeff on February 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

‘Scuse Me …
But this is only an expansion of an existing nuke plant.
It takes at least 20+ years from start to finish. Just ask Bechtel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel

The eniro-whackos will never be satisfied until we are forced to burn peat for heat.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Yeah keep ‘em coming

jake49 on February 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Election year.

a capella on February 10, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Nuked by December!

KOOLAID2 on February 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Sweat not. As soon as the election is over, the Environmental Goon Squads will step in to stop the construction.

Scriptor on February 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Wind Energy Has Killed More Americans Than Nuclear

locomotivebreath1901 on February 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM

As juicy as that sounds, its not true. Read the detailed list of accidents from your link. Many, if not all, of the fatal incidents have nothing to do with “wind power”. Human error, highway crashes, structural failures,etc.

Nearly all of the fatal incidents could have occurred at a nuclear power station or an ice cream store.

BTW, has anyone ever been killed in the nuclear power industry using the same causes listed here? If there is a single death, even a guy driving a truck with the new toilets for the control building who gets killed in a traffic accident would have to counted as a “nuclear power” death.

BobMbx on February 10, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Clearly an election year stunt. There is no way that an administration that cancelled the Yucca Mountain project is really going to let Vogtle ever go operational.

Happy Nomad on February 10, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Assuming this doesn’t get bogged down in the courts,

This is the real problem, not the EPA or Obama or anything else. The Enviro-Nazi’s will tie this up in court just like they did California’s Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company went through six years of hearings, referenda and litigation to have the Diablo Canyon plant approved.

SWalker on February 10, 2012 at 11:40 AM

From the article…

It will use Toshiba’s AP1000 reactors, the design of which the NRC certified in December, and it hopes to bring them online in 2016 and 2017.

Remember, I’m naturally radioactive and so are you. :)

Joy

DarrelsJoy on February 10, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Remember, I’m naturally radioactive and so are you. :)

Joy

DarrelsJoy on February 10, 2012 at 11:42 AM

What exactly is your point here?

SWalker on February 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM

One of the local TV stations in Atlanta (WXIA) had an unofficial poll last night on Vogtle expansion, in favor or not. ‘In-favor’ won 62 to 38.

slickwillie2001 on February 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Wow I was super excited about this until I saw the comments. :-(

Violina23 on February 10, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Anti-nuke zealots continue to show their total ignorance of nuclear power. Go and cheer for PETA and the whales, for God’s sake. Makes more sense.

ultracon on February 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Fukushima Dai-Nee!
Where will they store the waste? Obama has closed down the only place that was developed.
What happened in Russia? Remember that flash of light that was noting to worry about?
Just asking.

edsjim on February 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Nuclear energy is a crock. It’s the right wing version of green energy and we should let the markets work. I wish people realized that nuclear energy costs more than coal…

ArkyDore on February 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Good News? Not a lot of enthusiasm about this news. Well in this episode of when GOOD New is not well received.

residentblue on February 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM

This process started years ago under rules implemented by the previous administration.

Citizen-003528 on February 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Jazz – as expected – you are an IDIOT!!

The Obama Administration had NOTHING TO DO with the Approval of the AP1000 Design Certification OR the Combined Operating Licenses for Vogtle.

The “One-Step” 10 CFR 52 Licensing Process that ALLOWED “Design Certification” was Put in PLACE under the Bush-Cheney Administration and a Republican Congress.

By the time Obama was elected – it was WAAAY too far down the road and integrated into Law and Federal Regulations to “monkey wrench” by him.

ALL of the Commissioner – EXCEPT ONE, Jazcko, the one that Harry Reid made a deal to get on the NRC – were in place under the Bush-Cheney Administration. The Obama Administration got ONE VOTE out of FIVE.

The Design Certification was approved unanimously – and the COLs were approved 4-1.

You OUGHT TO CORRECT your stupid statement giving Obama CREDIT for this. The credit goes to Bush-Cheney for creating this Licensing Process and putting the people in place to IMPLEMENT it!

williamg on February 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM

This will create abotu 250,000 jobs.

williamg on February 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Go nukes.

AH_C on February 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM

You can double that cost estimate. The greenies will drag this out as long as they can, exposing one “theory” after another. Too bad a judge doesn’t tell ‘em – you lose, you pay.

GarandFan on February 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

ALL of the Commissioner – EXCEPT ONE, Jazcko, the one that Harry Reid made a deal to get on the NRC – were in place under the Bush-Cheney Administration. The Obama Administration got ONE VOTE out of FIVE.

Thank you. I wondered how that idiot got there.

Joy

DarrelsJoy on February 10, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Two Things for the IDIOTS on this Thread:

1. They are not “Construction” Licenses – they are COMBINED OPERATING LICENSES! Translation: They are DONE, they can OPERATE them when COnstruction is Complete.

2. The “intervention period” for Kooks is OVER. They had their chance – the COLs are issued, they CANNOT “drag out” the construction and start-up like they used to. THAT is the POINT of 10 CFR 52 – WHICH WAS PUT IN PLACE BY GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY!!

williamg on February 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

The huge up-front cost is a real roadblock.

In Iowa, we’re trying to get a second nuclear power plant, but the holdup is centered around how those up-front cost will be covered. The state legislature is bogged down in trying to decide if MidAmerican Energy will be allowed to increase rates up front to cover the costs, or if it has to front the capitol itself and recover the costs if/when the plant comes online.

One of the questions people have is who’s going to eat the costs if it never goes online? And (as others have hinted) is it too big of a risk to sink in all that capitol when there’s a real chance it might never go online?

taznar on February 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

I wish people realized that nuclear energy costs more than coal…

ArkyDore on February 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Only due to government regulation.

Undue burden and all that.

BobMbx on February 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

The eniro-whackos will never be satisfied until we are forced to burn peat for heat.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

At that point they will declare peat endangered.

Bunsin2 on February 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

building them is’nt the problem. Turning the ignition key will be.

JimboHoffa on February 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Well the good news is that, unlike the previous generation of licenses, this is a COL (combined construction and operating license). If built to plan she will operate. We will see if the wackos make any headway in court but it isn’t likely. Southern will put the pedal to the metal now on construction.

whbates on February 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Nuclear energy is a crock. It’s the right wing version of green energy and we should let the markets work. I wish people realized that nuclear energy costs more than coal…

ArkyDore on February 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

BS, it’s just not true, however the cost of Gas is cheaper currently, but with the government encouraging gas usage and even operating vehicles on gas that we not remain the same.

whbates on February 10, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Two Things for the IDIOTS on this Thread:

1. They are not “Construction” Licenses – they are COMBINED OPERATING LICENSES! Translation: They are DONE, they can OPERATE them when COnstruction is Complete.

2. The “intervention period” for Kooks is OVER. They had their chance – the COLs are issued, they CANNOT “drag out” the construction and start-up like they used to. THAT is the POINT of 10 CFR 52 – WHICH WAS PUT IN PLACE BY GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY!!

williamg on February 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Absolutly correct!!

whbates on February 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Typical dismissive comments here by Hot Airheads. Does anyone here actually think before opening their mouth?

Since I (indirectly) worked on the engineering for the Vogtle Units 3 & 4 Project, I thought that I would offer to you all my insight.

1. Southern Nuclear submitted their Combined Construction and Operating License (COLA) to the NRC back in 2008. You can see the application review schedule Link here. As Citizen-003528 stated (and by the way, thanks for the intelligent comment) this process started years ago under the previous administration.

2. Vogtle is implementing the Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor. The AP1000 was certified by the NRC back in back in January 2006. This design certification was amended AP1000 in September 2011 to address NRC concerns about the capability of the AP1000′s shield building to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, and airplane collisions.

3. If you look at the application review schedule, Southern Nuclear spent years answering the NRC’s request for additional information (RAIs). As was mentioned earlier, they followed a process that was put in place prior to the Obama administration. So no, Obama did not personally sign-off on the COL for the plant. And no, this is not an election year ploy (Georgia is probably not in play for Obama). Plus, the DOE under Obama administration awarded an 8.3 billion dollar loan guarantee to the Vogtle Units 3 & 4 Project. That loan guarantee came out of a law signed by the Bush Administration in 2006.

4. The one NRC dissenter wanted issues relating to Fukushima to be addressed. The AP1000 is (somewhat) immune to the problems that occurred at Fukushima. The problems at Fukushima began when they had a Loss of Offsite Power (LOOP) and the tsunami took out their emergency diesels. The AP1000 design does not require A/C power or operator action for 72 hours following a LOOP. The design has the capability to keep the reactor in safe shutdown by the use of passive safety systems that don’t need A/C power or operator input.

5. I was told yesterday by a coworker that the NRC is coming out with more rules or altered criteria for seismically qualifying piping and equipment supports for safety-related systems. I don’t know how that will impact the Vogtle Project but that is something that I think can be overcome.

antifederalist on February 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM

It’s about time we started getting back to common sense. This is a good start, may it sweep the country.

Axion on February 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Two Things for the IDIOTS on this Thread:

1. They are not “Construction” Licenses – they are COMBINED OPERATING LICENSES! Translation: They are DONE, they can OPERATE them when COnstruction is Complete.

2. The “intervention period” for Kooks is OVER. They had their chance – the COLs are issued, they CANNOT “drag out” the construction and start-up like they used to. THAT is the POINT of 10 CFR 52 – WHICH WAS PUT IN PLACE BY GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY!!

williamg on February 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Thanks for the educated comment.

antifederalist on February 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Two Things for the IDIOTS on this Thread:

1. They are not “Construction” Licenses – they are COMBINED OPERATING LICENSES! Translation: They are DONE, they can OPERATE them when COnstruction is Complete.

2. The “intervention period” for Kooks is OVER. They had their chance – the COLs are issued, they CANNOT “drag out” the construction and start-up like they used to. THAT is the POINT of 10 CFR 52 – WHICH WAS PUT IN PLACE BY GEORGE W. BUSH AND DICK CHENEY!!

williamg on February 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Thank you, william. That needed to be said.

Others should remember who the ignorant clowns in need of correction were in these comments, for future reference.

WhatNot on February 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

ding them is’nt the problem. Turning the ignition key will be.
JimboHoffa on February 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Xattcy

/Shovel ready
Key West Reader on February 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

“Shovel ready” = ready to let an evil polluter company spend a billion dollars, and then get a shovel to the head.

logis on February 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM

The eniro-whackos will never be satisfied until we are forced to burn peat for heat rescind every discovery of humankind up to and including fire, and go back to living in trees.

FIFY. Peat’s bad, ya know. Greenhouse gasses, and all that.

crazy_legs on February 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM

What they’re not telling you is the amount of money each Georgian is having to pay for this plant ($15 per month) because of combined massive cost overruns and rate increases. My bill for the year has already increased another $13 per month.

moonsbreath on February 10, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Fun little thought for you all.

What if we had put half of the $$ into next generation nuke plants as we have wasted on the solar/wind boondoggles?

MSRT and Pebble Bed systems show real promise, power density wise and in safety. Will their promise ever see the light of day or will the moron Luddites of the Left kill them?

Nathan_OH on February 10, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Nuclear energy is a crock. It’s the right wing version of green energy and we should let the markets work. I wish people realized that nuclear energy costs more than coal…

ArkyDore on February 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Ok Arky, let’s see if you know what you’re talking about or if you’re just blowing smoke. I made electricity at a nuke plant for many years. When I retired the cost to produce said electricity was $26.00 per megawatt. We sold it for about $50.00 per megawatt. Now why don’t you tell us how much it costs to produce a megawatt of electricity from coal. Just for clarity let us know which coal fired plant you’re giving numbers for.

Oldnuke on February 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Oldnuke on February 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Excellent point, the latest numbers I’ve seen for the company I am associated with is the dispatch cost/MW for nuclear is 22-24 coal 26-28 and gas is 19-22 (gas is really, really cheap right now but will not stay that way, and as always is very volatile).

whbates on February 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I have always been pro nuclear. I am glad that at least the permit has been approved. However like many other commenters I have little confidence that these plants will ever come online. I am curious as why the US has not pursued LFTR technolgy. LFTRs have been around for decades. The real reason we did not go this route is because you can not make bombs from the waste material.

TomLawler on February 10, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Union jobs. Moscow, Ohio had a permit to ya know.

Kenosha Kid on February 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM

I doubt it. Not in Georgia. Nuke plants down south are generally non-union.

deadrody on February 10, 2012 at 3:25 PM

‘Scuse Me …
But this is only an expansion of an existing nuke plant.
It takes at least 20+ years from start to finish. Just ask Bechtel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel

The eniro-whackos will never be satisfied until we are forced to burn peat for heat.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Eh. Not really a concern at this point. The majority of sites were originally designed for multiple units. Every prospective new plant has been sited at an existing plant.

deadrody on February 10, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Fukushima Dai-Nee!
Where will they store the waste? Obama has closed down the only place that was developed.
What happened in Russia? Remember that flash of light that was noting to worry about?
Just asking.

edsjim on February 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM

What ?!!? I would put the odds at around 100% that not only will any new plants be designed to hold spent fuel at the same 30 year capacity as plants built in the 1960s, but probably enough to hold all the fuel they are expected to use for at least 40-60 years worth of operation. And even then, most sites in the US have long since moved to dry cask storage on site. Waste is an issue, but not one that needs to be solved to support NEW plants.

Do you know anything about nuclear power ? Or can you just use google a little ? Tell us all about how Fukushima pertains to the new AP1000 design. Or Chernobyl for that matter. I’ll wait….

deadrody on February 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Nuclear energy is a crock. It’s the right wing version of green energy and we should let the markets work. I wish people realized that nuclear energy costs more than coal…

ArkyDore on February 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Come on. The only reason Nuclear costs more than coal is because of all the legal hurdles they have to get through to build and operate one.

Trust me, what it costs to run a nuke plant is a small fraction of what you are paying for the electricity generated at one.

deadrody on February 10, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Excellent point, the latest numbers I’ve seen for the company I am associated with is the dispatch cost/MW for nuclear is 22-24 coal 26-28 and gas is 19-22 (gas is really, really cheap right now but will not stay that way, and as always is very volatile).

whbates on February 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Had breakfast with the CEO of the company I retired from about a month ago. He told us that Dominion is adding a lot of gas generating capacity as base load units because of the cost and benefits of gas. They’re also moving forward with nuclear at the plant I operated. They’re due to get their COL in the near future too. Of course they’re probably going to take a wait and see approach using Vogtle as the benchmark.

Oldnuke on February 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Waste is an issue, but not one that needs to be solved to support NEW plants.

deadrody on February 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Yep, dry cask storage sort of alleviated the need for any government assistance in this area. If they get around to finishing that hole in the ground in Nevada fine. If they don’t who cares. Those casks can just sit there for the next thousand years and provide a job for two or three rent-a-guards.

Oldnuke on February 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

TomLawler on February 10, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Fort St. Vrain was a gas cooled thorium fueled reactor. It didn’t work very well. Things that work well in theory don’t always work well in practice and they won’t work at all in a nuclear power plant. That’s an addendum to Murphy’s law. You’d be hard pressed to make a bomb from the expended fuel of a nuke plant. It would be easier to just make it from scratch.

Oldnuke on February 10, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Mr. Obama gets to run as the first President in over 30 years that approved a nuke reactor; whether it’s ever built or not, doesn’t matter.

NotEasilyFooled on February 11, 2012 at 10:15 AM