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Groups Concerned about troubled Plant Vogtle reactor project to comment on Monday at NRC Action

Nuclear Regulation Commission met today, Monday and denied Groups’ Filing to Halt Reactor Project; NRC Action Forces Filing of New Stay Motion in Federal Court Amidst Latest Signs of 30+ Vogtle Project License Changes

For Immediate Release
Monday, April 16, 2012

Atlanta  –  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today unanimously affirmed a memorandum and order denying a stay motion to halt construction at the troubled Plant Vogtle project near Augusta, Georgia. Representatives of nine groups, including Atlanta based Georgia Women's Action for New Directions,  opposed to the NRC's decision in February to approve the licensing of Southern Company’s two new Vogtle reactors and will comment today about this morning's NRC decision to deny the stay.

The groups now plan to file a motion in federal court to stay construction.  That court proceeding would unfold against a backdrop of more than 30-plus license changes that Southern Company has said are needed and that the nine groups believe may result in possible delays and cost overruns.

The groups will hold a phone-based news conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT Monday following a planned 9 a.m. NRC public hearing.

News event speakers will be:
Diane Curran, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P., attorney for organizations;
Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research;
Sara Barczak, High Risk Energy Choices director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; and
Rev. Charles Utley, Environmental Justice coordinator, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

TO PARTICIPATE:  You can participate in a related live, phone-based news conference (with full, two-way Q&A) at 1:30 p.m. EDT on April 16, 2012 by dialing 1 (800) 860-2442. Ask for the “NRC/Vogtle reactor challenge” news event.

CAN’T PARTICIPATE?:  A streaming audio replay of a related news event will be available on the Web at http://www.cleanenergy.org as of 5 p.m. EDT on April 16, 2012.

 MEDIA CONTACTS:   Leslie Anderson Maloy, (703) 276-3256 or landerson@hastingsgroup.com and Courtney Hanson (404) 524-5999 or courtney@wand.org

BACKGROUND

The nine groups are the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Center for a Sustainable Coast, Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Friends of the Earth, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Nuclear Watch South, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The groups maintain that NRC is violating federal law by issuing the Vogtle license without fully considering important public safety and environmental implications of the catastrophic Fukushima accident in Japan. They have asked federal judges to order the NRC to prepare a new environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Vogtle reactors that would detail how cooling systems for the proposed reactors and spent fuel storage pools would meet new regulatory requirements in light of the Fukushima accident to protect the site, and thus the surrounding communities, against earthquakes, flooding and prolonged loss of electric power to the site. Post-Fukushima safety requirements may also lead to a change in the economics of the project compared to alternatives.

In February, the groups asked the NRC to delay construction of the new Vogtle reactors until the court decided their case. If the NRC refuses their request on Monday, they will bring it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. They contend that construction should not be allowed until the NRC decides whether the proposed new reactors should be re-designed to provide for more rigorous protection against earthquakes and extended power outages. To build reactors that might need to be significantly modified later and extensively backfitted in light of new post-Fukushima regulatory requirements risks wasting ratepayer dollars, causing unnecessary pollution, and even possible abandonment of the project.

 

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