On Thursday the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first nuclear power plant in the US since the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania back in 1979. The Southern Co. based in Atlanta already operates two reactors at its Vogtle site near Augusta, and has just been granted permission to build another two reactors.
The Southern Co. President and CEO Thomas Fanning said that the approval was “a monumental accomplishment”, not only the company, but also the nuclear industry as a whole. “We are committed to bringing these units online to deliver clean, safe and reliable energy to our customers.” The reactors are projected to come online in 2016 and 2017 and will cost more than $14 billion to construct.
Many protests were raised against the nuclear reactors over fears of the structural safety and ability to withstand earthquakes and the like, following the March 2011 Disaster in Fukushima. Fanning assured that once all lessons have been learned from the Fukushima incident, that new safety changes will be designed and made to both existing and new reactors.
Many of the protestors are from local communities who claim that cancer has increased in the area since the opening of the first two Vogtle reactors. Willie Tomlin, pastor of the Thomas Grove Baptist Church in Waynesboro said of the decision, “I think it’s a sad day for the people who live in this area.” Although there are also members of the community who are all for the new power plant. Vogtle is already the largest employer in the county and both city officials and local residents are looking forward to the 5,000 construction jobs and extra tax revenue expected.