NRC approves AP1000 reactor design, while multiple subsidies move new reactors in Georgia and South Carolina into construction phase
As reported by the New York Times, the five Commissioners of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today approved the design certification for Toshiba-Westinghouse's so-called "Advanced Passive 1000" (AP1000, which is actually an 1,100 Megawatt-electric reactor) reactor design. This would allow construction of two new reactors at Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, and two new reactors at Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina, to accelerate. The approval comes despite a major design flaw identified by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, working on behalf of an environmental coalition opposing new AP1000s proposed across the Southeast. Both the Vogtle and Summer new reactor projects enjoyed ratepayer subsidies in the form of current "Construction Work in Progress" charges on electricity bills, something that is illegal in most states. In addition, the Vogtle project received an $8.3 billion nuclear loan guarantee, announced by President Obama himself in February, 2010. If actually built, this would be the first new reactor order actually constructed in the U.S. since October 1973. All other orders after that point were either cancelled outright, or abandoned midway.
U.S. Energy Secretary Chu praised NRC's design certification of the AP1000. Not only did the Energy Department award the two proposed new Vogtle AP1000s an $8.33 billion nuclear loan guarantee, at taxpayer financial risk -- DOE also chose the AP1000 as a "Nuclear Power 2010" program design, subsidizing its engineering design as well as regulatory licensing costs in a 50-50 cost-share with industry, another taxpayer giveaway to an already heavily subsidized, filthy rich industry.