A coalition of environmental groups, including North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), has issued a press release decrying a nearly billion dollar cost overrun at the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor construction project in Georgia. The groups warn that further cost increases are likely, due to rushed design and construction that has led to errors, as in sub-foundation grading, rebar quality assurance, and even radiological containment "shield building" design and construction.
Such cost overruns, as well as construction schedule delays, could lead to the Vogtle 3 & 4 project defaulting on its loan repayments. This puts $8.3 billion in federal taxpayer nuclear loan guarantees (and even the actual loans themselves, since they come from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Finance Bank) at risk. $8.3 billion is 30 times the amount taxpayers lost to the Solyndra solar loan guarantee scandal.
The coalition's expert witness Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), said: “Southern Company rushed into this project, as evidenced by the many requests for modifications of the license and early technical difficulties and problems including failure of ‘some details’ of early construction to conform to the Design Control Document, according to Georgia Power’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Indeed, a part of the cost increase of $900 million appears to be attributable to overcoming delays and rushing the project again despite construction non-compliance. The cost increase should not be a surprise; rather it is déjà vu all over again. Rushing nuclear power reactors is not prudent and stockholders and/or the vendors, not ratepayers, should bear the burden of such costs. It would be much better if construction were suspended until all design issues were resolved.”