LISTEN IN: Vogtle 3 hearing on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, at 10:00 AM Eastern:
Who: Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, Southern Company, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
What: Preliminary Hearing Oral Argument
Where: Hearing Conducted via Teleconference
Why: Should Southern's Request for License Amendment be Granted
The courtroom-style arguments will be conducted via teleconference. For members of the news media and general public who would like to listen to the teleconference, the toll-free call-in number is 888-566-5903 and the passcode is 2416062, followed by "#". You will not be able to speak on this line.
The issues before the three-judge panel on Wednesday, July 1, center on physical changes in the nuclear island of Plant Vogtle's Unit 3, now under construction. Southern Nuclear claims it's just a minor construction flaw. But in reality, the measured change in the plant's nuclear island points to fundamental problems in the foundation.
"Vogtle has finally admitted that the sheer weight of the nuclear island building is causing it to sink into the red Georgia clay," said Arnold Gundersen, an independent nuclear power plant engineer who provided analysis of the structural problems at Vogtle's Unit 3. He added, "It is figuratively and literally sinking under its own weight. Islands are not supposed to sink."
Charles Utley, BREDL's Augusta Office chief, said that questionable actions by the company had brought it to this point. Utley said, "Both the seismic gap and the information gap have the capability of causing catastrophic destruction. Therefore, it should not be allowed to operate."
The legal action is the latest in a series of such challenges to Plant Vogtle. Louis Zeller, BREDL's Executive Director and pro se legal representative in the case, said that the discovery of materially false statements had forced his hand. Zeller said, "The cake is baked. Using icing to cover the baker's errors is unacceptable. Vogtle officials attempts to excuse shoddy workmanship cannot be allowed to obscure the facts."
In February Southern Company requested a license amendment from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, seeking to reduce safety margins by narrowing what it called the "seismic gap" between Vogtle's Unit 3 nuclear island and adjacent concrete structures. On May 11, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League filed a nineteen-page legal petition requesting a hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on a License Amendment for Plant Vogtle's Unit 3. The petition is supported by detailed, specific expert opinion.
If you do wish to make a comment, contact BREDL about making a "limited appearance" statement.
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is a grassroots organization with projects in six states. Its local chapter Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff supported the legal action with necessary affidavits if support.
BREDL's May 11 legal petition, our June 12 reply and supporting expert analysis are posted online at www.bredl.org/nuclear/Vogtle.htm