US sets vote on 1st nuclear reactor since 1978

Last Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 23:06

Washington: US regulators are considering a
plan to build the nation`s first nuclear power plant in a
generation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is set to vote
today on Southern Co.`s request to build two new reactors at
Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

If approved, the USD 14 billion reactors could begin
operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in
1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile
Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a
radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a
halt.

The planned reactors are the remnants of a once-
anticipated building boom that the power industry dubbed the
"nuclear renaissance."

President Barack Obama and other proponents say greater
use of nuclear power could cut the nation`s reliance on fossil
fuels and create energy without producing emissions blamed for
global warming.

A new government permitting process strongly encourages
utilities to use pre-approved reactor designs rather than
building custom models, a strategy intended to make
construction easier and less expensive.

Obama has offered the Vogtle project USD 8.3 billion in
federal loan guarantees as part of its pledge to expand
nuclear power.

The once hoped-for boom has been plagued by a series of
problems, from the prolonged economic downturn to the sharp
drop in the price of natural gas, due in part to improved
drilling techniques that have allowed energy companies to tap
previously unavailable underground shale formations.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 23:06

comments powered by Disqus