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Accident with train carrying Vogtle part is more of the same

Project woes and industry secrecy, cover-up and minimization continue at Plant Vogtle

By Courtney Hanson

rpvphotoNews leaked this week that on December 15, a Schnabel railcar carrying a 300 ton reactor protection vessel (RPV) from the Port of Savannah to Plant Vogtle was compromised and became misaligned with the RPV just a quarter mile out of the port.

Crews lowered the car to inspect it and then took it back to the port. Currently there is no information about when another car or the three cranes it will take to lift the RPV into the car will be sent.

A mishap of such magnitude will likely impact the project, but Southern Company maintains that the RPV has not been damaged and that the accident will not cause delays to the project.

Why was this accident kept quiet in the press until now? Why was it not discussed at the Public Service Commission meetings held to discuss the Vogtle project later that month? The only concrete answer is that it’s a continuation of the nuclear industry’s m-o : secrecy, cover-up, minimization.

In the coming weeks, Georgia WAND and our partner organizations like Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability will watchdog this project.

While we’re assured the crucial part for the reactor has not been harmed, a full safety inspection of every last weld and flange in the vessel would and should take weeks. Then, they’ll have to try a second time to get the vessel from the port to Vogtle an another train.

No doubt the industry will continue to minimize the accident, but a project of this magnitude demands more safeguards than are currently in place. Georgians have been forced to put our safety and our money on the line here.

While we wait to see what unfolds, the next Public Service Commission meeting regarding Vogtle will be held on January 23. The PSC’s job is to oversee this project and make sure it’s a prudent use of ratepayer money.

From faulty welding and concrete woes to the legal battle with Shaw, and now this accident, it's hard to say how many more mishaps will have to occur before the PSC will realize it's time to scrap the project.

Join us at the PSC meeting  Wednesday, January 23, 10 am, 244 Washington Street SW to hold the commissioners accountable to transparency on accidents like this and to making sure the proper safety measures are taken.

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