The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on March 30 voted to clear the way for its Office of New Reactors to issue two licenses for two new AP1000 reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Parr, S.C. This marks the NRC's second approval of nuclear units to be built in the United States in two months. In February, the NRC approved a license for Atlanta-based Southern Company's Vogtle project, in Waynesboro, Ga. The NRC had not issued any new reactor licenses since 1978.
The five-member commission approved the license for the Summer project in a 4-1 vote, with NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko dissenting. Jaczko was also the lone dissenting vote for the Vogtle license. The NRC's news release on the Summer approval can be found here, and the NRC staff is expected to issue the combined operating license for the project within 10 business days.
The vote clears the way for SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper to build and operate the two new reactors at Summer. A SCANA spokesperson was quoted in The Augusta Chronicle as saying that about 1,000 workers have already been engaged in early site preparation for the project. The project will peak at about 3,000 long-term construction workers over three to four years, and the two units are expected to add as many as 800 permanent jobs when they start generating electricity. The Summer units are expected to begin operating in 2017 and 2018.
Soon there will be four new reactors with operating licenses in place under construction in the United States, and-with the Tennessee Valley Authority's ongoing completion of Watts Bar-2 in Tennessee-five reactors total under construction. Stay tuned to the ANS Nuclear Cafe for more coverage of the licensing decision.
Laura Scheele is the Communications and Public Policy Manager for the American Nuclear Society.