The Nuclear Regulatory Commission unanimously approved a radical new reactor design on Thursday, clearing away a major obstacle for two utilities to begin construction on projects in South Carolina and Georgia.
The decision, a milestone in the much-delayed revival of plant construction sought by the nuclear industry, involves the Westinghouse AP1000, a 1,154-megawatt reactor with a so-called advanced passive design. It relies more heavily on forces like gravity and natural heat convection and less on pumps, valves and operator actions than other models do, in theory diminishing the probability of an accident.
Which says nothing about cost overruns, kickbacks for lobbyists and political graft in construction.
Two reactors are planned for the Southern Company’s plant near Augusta, Ga., and another two at the Summer plant of South Carolina Electric and Gas in Fairfield County, S.C.