Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant
Southern Nuclear Company of Georgia
Burke County, GA

Southern Nuclear Company of Georgia wants to build additional nuclear power plants near Waynesboro, GA. This would increase the negative health impacts on nearby residents and increase the cost of electric power.

“Plant Vogtle: A Nuclear Disaster Waiting to Happen”

Aug. 15, 2017: On Wednesday and Thursday, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League will hold a series of public forums in Atlanta and Augusta detailing the unsafe conditions at the nuclear power plants now under construction at Plant Vogtle. The meetings will feature Arnold Gundersen, a certified nuclear power plant engineer and a long-time critic of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors.

Press Advisory | Fairewinds' Presentation Powerpoint

BREDL & Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff Present
Safe, Clean Power Proposal to Burke County, GA

June 2, 2017: Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff advise Burke County Development Authority to request an update on the Toshiba-Westinghouse bankruptcy and its potential impacts on the partially constructed Vogtle nuclear power plants. We also to request that no additional cost increases will be passed along to Burke County ratepayers for this failed nuclear endeavor.

BREDL Letter

The League files Appeal of Plant Vogtle Decision

Oct. 11, 2016: Hydrogen created during an accident in a nuclear power plant can explode. Hydrogen igniters are supposed to burn the gas before it reaches dangerous levels. But rather than performing a rigorous analysis as required by federal law and common sense, Southern Nuclear chose to modify its design by adding two hydrogen igniters in a “likely area” based on personal “judgment” of its engineers. Reliance on engineering judgment instead of rigorous testing and analysis creates uncertainty and compromises plant safety.

BREDL Appeal

BREDL & Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff File Reply to NRC

June 3, 2016: Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and chapter Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff filed their reply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in an ongoing battle against a license amendment at Plant Vogtle which would increase the potential risk of hydrogen fire and explosion, causing damage to the community living in the shadow of nuclear power plants in Burke County, Georgia.


League Files New Safety Lawsuit Against Plant Vogtle Construction

May 12, 2016: Today BREDL and the Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff announced a challenge to a license amendment at Plant Vogtle which would increase the potential risk of hydrogen fire and explosion, causing damage to the containment structures of two nuclear power plants now being constructed in Burke County, Georgia. Unaccountably, four years elapsed before the company informed NRC of this risk.

BREDL Press Release | BREDL Petition

BREDL & Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff respond to Southern Nuclear and the NRC on the Plant Vogtle petition to intervene

Jan. 11, 2016: In our legal brief filed January 11, 2016, BREDL and its chapter Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff have demonstrated that safety margins have been reduced at the nuclear reactors now under construction in Waynesboro, Georgia. Southern Company's failure to obtain a license amendment at Plant Vogtle prior to implementing the changes is a violation of federal regulations.

Read BREDL comments

BREDL and chapter Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff Petition U.S. NRC

Dec. 7: Southern Nuclear Operating Company is seeking to amend its license to relax the construction standards for the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Units 3 and 4. If permitted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the changes would alter the reactors’ critical radiation shielding walls. BREDL and Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff oppose the license amendment because it would endanger plant safety, plant personnel and the surrounding community.

Read BREDL Press Release | View BREDL Petition

BREDL and its chapter Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff provide comments on the proposed License Amendment Request for the Vogtle nuclear power plants

Nov. 9, 2015: Southern Company has filed a license amendment request for the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia which would allow the preemptory alteration of the license before a full public review. We oppose the granting of the Preliminary Amendment Request and the License Amendment itself. Our principal interests are the health and safety of our members living near the plant and the general public.

View Comments

BREDL comments on Plant Vogtle NPDES permit

March 3, 2015: Southern Company seeks a permit to discharge heated radioactive water from Plant Vogtle into the Savannah River.  BREDL has identified two issues of major concern: 1) The draft permit contains no effective heat discharge limits, and 2) The draft permit would allow 630 Curies of radioactivity to be discharged into the Savannah River annually. Public comment deadline in March 20, 2015.  Call us to find out more.

BREDL Comments

Group Launches Radiation Protection Project

Jan. 6, 2015: Today at a press conference in Augusta, a group launched a new program to protect residents from nuclear power plant accidents.  The group, Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff, will be meeting with residents of Augusta, Waynesboro and nearby communities within the emergency zone around the Plant Vogtle nuclear power station.  The project centers on one of the most dangerous pollutants, radioactive iodine, which can affect the thyroid gland.

BREDL Press Release

Industrial Surface Water Withdrawal Permit No. 017-0191-11
Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Units 3 & 4, Burke Co., GA

May 15, 2014: Georgia EPD's inclusion of mitigation in a water withdrawal permit is the wrong measure in the wrong place. Proper consideration of such measures is the province of an NPDES waste water discharge permit, which has been applied for but not released by EPD. We believe it would be unfair and contrary to the law if NPDES mitigation measures were allowed through the back door of a water withdrawal permit instead of a discharge permit, the proper place to consider chemical and thermal discharges to waters of the United States.

Read BREDL Comments

BREDL's Statement to the
National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

Sept. 11, 2013: The United States Environmental Protection Agency established the Office of Environmental Justice in 1992 because all Americans regardless of race, color, national origin, or economic circumstance should be able to live in a clean, healthy environment. The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council was established as a federal advisory committee to EPA. Rev. Charles Utley presented recommendations on two broad topics—brownfields and nuclear power—which affect EPA initiatives.

BREDL's Statement

Residents Raise Vogtle Safety Issues
at Meeting with Obama Administration

Nov. 19, 2012: Today Georgians concerned about Plant Vogtle met with Obama Administration officials to deliver a letter of grievances against the nuclear power plant in their midst. The meeting at the White House conference center included Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Paul Seidler, Director of External Affairs for Environmental Management for the US Department of Energy. Among those at the meeting representing the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League were Rev. Charles Utley, staff Environmental Justice Campaigner, and Board Vice President Rev. Willie Tomlin.

BREDL Press Release | Read BREDL Letter delivered to the White House

The Waynesboro-Washington Watch
Shell Bluff area citizens travel all night by bus

Nov. 19, 2012: Today Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff journeyed from Georgia to Washington, DC to witness the oral arguments in our case before the US Court of Appeals. Rev. Charles Utley is Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League’s staff member who helped organize the trip. Emerging from the courtroom, he said, “Our lawyers asked why the new information from Fukushima was not included in Plant Vogtle’s license.” Rev. Utley remarked that the judges seemed to notice the many people in attendance. “We traveled all night to be here today to bear silent witness against our nuclear neighbor, Plant Vogtle.”

Legal Fact Sheet | BREDL Press Release

News coverage: WFXG Fox 54 Story

NY Times blog: A Higher Price Tag for a Nuclear Project

May 11, 2012: The flagship project of a hoped-for but not-yet-realized “nuclear renaissance,” the Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors under construction near Augusta, Ga., may cost about $900 million more than had been estimated, the Southern Company said in a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Read full article

Plant Vogtle and Environmental Justice

Reverend Charles Utley of Hyde Park in Augusta has pointed out the continued poverty in Burke County after the construction boom that accompanied the first two Vogtle reactors. Considering that Georgia Power has to come up with about $14 billion to build the plant and the NRC charges almost $100 million just to get the license to operate the plant, no wonder monies are not available for additional economic development projects. Yet, with so much money being spent, it would seem that more funds could be directed to economic development in the area. Without it, environmental injustice via disproportionate impacts becomes an issue that should be seriously considered.

Read more from African American Environmentalist Association

Groups File Motion Requesting the
Suspension of Vogtle's NRC License until Issues Resolved

April 18, 2012: In 2011 a catastrophic accident destroyed the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station. Early this year, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a construction and operation license to Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle. In doing so, the NRC has attempted to avoid its responsibility to the public by refusing to address the environmental implications of Fukushima or even grant us a hearing. Therefore, we petition the court to suspend the NRC’s license until the court resolves these issues.

View Groups' Legal Motion

Groups: NRC Refusal to Require Fukushima Safety Enhancements for Vogtle Reactors Will Force
Filing of Federal Court Action

April 16, 2012: An adverse decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reached today will force parties concerned about the already troubled Vogtle nuclear reactor project in Georgia to file a motion this week in federal court, according to representatives of nine organizations that are seeking to slow down the Vogtle project so that necessary post-Fukushima safety enhancements can be taken into account on the front end, before billions of ratepayer dollars are spent.

Groups' Press Release

Press Advisory: NRC Rejects Vogtle Motion

A streaming audio replay of a related news event is available here.

BREDL's comments regarding Plant Vogtle Title V Air Permit and request for Public Hearing

March 29, 2012: On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and our chapter the Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff, I write to provide comments on the Environmental Protection Division’s draft permit. Also, we request that a public hearing be held in Burke County before a permitting decision is made to enable residents to provide comments to EPD.

BREDL Comments

BREDL's letter to US DOE regarding Loan Guarantees for Plant Vogtle

March 2012: The US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office must protect the U.S. taxpayer by not approving defective loan guarantee proposals; specifically, rejecting a $8.33 billion loan guarantee for the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

BREDL March 19 Letter
Attachment: The Economics of Nuclear Reactors: Renaissance or Relapse?, Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis, Institute for Energy and Environment, Vermont Law School, June 2009

NRC License for New Vogtle Reactors will be Opposed in Federal Court

Feb. 9, 2012: 9 Groups Contend That NRC Is Failing to Fully Consider Fukushima Lessons Before Issuing a Final License to Construct and Operate Two New Nuclear Reactors With the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expected to consider as early as Thursday whether to issue the final license for two new reactors at the site of the currently operating Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, nine national, state and regional groups will ask the NRC to delay its decision until the groups can file a challenge in federal court.

Groups' Press Advisory

Group Claims Agency Cover Up Safety Problems at Plant Vogtle

Feb. 8, 2012: Today in Atlanta, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League revealed that potential safety problems at Plant Vogtle are being withheld from public view. The group said that for over a year it had received no answer to its formal request for disclosure of information about Plant Vogtle’s ability to withstand earthquakes and other threats. In a statement to be delivered today to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of New Reactors’ public meeting on Plant Vogtle construction, BREDL Vice President Rev. Willie Tomlin asks why the agency is keeping the information from public view and reiterates the request for disclosure.

BREDL Press Release
Read Rev. Willie Tomlin's Statement

Civil Rights Icon Urges Residents to Fight On

Jan. 7, 2012: On this day the inspiring words and visionary leadership of Rev. Dr. Lowery reached out to the local leaders of the campaign to halt the expansion of nuclear power in their community. Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff was founded in March 2010 as a chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Read The Metro Courier article Civil Rights Icon Urges Residents to Fight On

Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Rallies
Environmental Justice Campaigners in Georgia

Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

Jan. 7, 2012: Today at a church within view of Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant, civil rights veteran Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery spoke about the issues currently affecting the people this region. In attendance were many local residents from the rural Shell Bluff community in Burke County and many people from the Atlanta area who arrived in a bus chartered by Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions.

More Details: Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff/BREDL Press Release | Event Flyer

League files contention with NRC

On August 11, 2011, the League launched a new initiative to halt the expansion of nuclear power in Georgia. The campaign is based on the testimony in the documents filed with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Our major points are: 1) The lessons of the nuclear disaster in Japan, 2) River floods caused by distant earthquakes and 3) The violations of environmental justice by the NRC. 

BREDL Contention filed with NRC | Expert affidavits from Dr. Ross McCluney and Rev. Charles Utley | Fact sheet: Vogtle Fukushima? 

League appeals Plant Vogtle decision

Dec. 9, 2010: On November 30, 2010 The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected our latest petition on Plant Vogtle. In their ruling, the ASLB said that a statement by the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, the committee with principal responsibility for reactor safety at the NRC, was irrelevant. The ACRS statement was at the heart of our argument. Incredibly, the ASLB said that we should have realized and acted upon the relevant statement by the ACRS Chairman two months before he said it. This appeal to the full Commission is lodged in hope that clearer thinking may prevail.

Read BREDL Appeal

Action Alert

Write to President Obama
Let him know why you oppose
Georgia Power’s plans to expand Plant Vogtle

December 2010: Shell Bluff Concerned Citizens who live in the shadow of Plant Vogtle ask that all residents of Burke County let the President know about this injustice.
View Action Alert

Groups send Plant Vogtle Reply to NRC

Sept. 22, 2010: Today in the continuing campaign against the expansion of nuclear power in Georgia and the Souteast, the Center for a Sustainable Coast, Georgia WAND and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League sent the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission a point-by-point argument as to why the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board should take a closer look at the problems with the proposed addition of two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power station near Waynesboro, Georgia.

View Plant Vogtle Reply

PUBLIC HEARING - Plant Vogtle Environmental Impacts

October 7, 2010
7:00 PM
Augusta Technical College
Waynesboro Campus Auditorium
216 Hwy 24 South
Waynesboro, Georgia

More info: Public Hearing Factsheet | Environmental Injustice Factsheet | Why we oppose expansion

Groups File New Legal Challenge at Plant Vogtle

Aug. 17, 2010: League files new contention with nuclear licensing board regarding inadequacy of containment/coating inspection program for Vogtle Units 3 and 4.

Louis Zeller, Science Director for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, explained why the groups took this action. "Southern Nuclear Company has overlooked a major problem which we simply cannot allow to go unchallenged. The fundamental requirement of the operator is to protect public health and safety. Southern Nuclear Company is not doing its job.

View Press Release | BREDL Supplemental Contention

League Files Unprecedented Air Pollution Challenge at Plant Vogtle

Aug. 12, 2010: This week in a bold move, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League filed a legal challenge to the proposed air pollution permit at Plant Vogtle. The August 10th filing was one of the first in the nation under the federal Clean Air Act challenging excessive radionuclide emissions from nuclear power. In a petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the League called for rejection of the permit issued by the State of Georgia because it failed to limit radioactive air pollution, failed to protect public health and failed to prevent environmental injustice.

BREDL Press Release | View BREDL Petition

BREDL comments on permit amendment for Vogtle plant

April 6, 2010: BREDL and our chapter Shell Bluff Concerned Citizens comment on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division’s operating permit amendment for Georgia Power Company’s two additional pressurized water reactors at Southern Nuclear Operating Company Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.
Read BREDL Comments

Groups file Petition for Review regarding Vogtle Units 3 and 4
Oct. 29, 2009: Today organizations concerned with the high costs and environmental risks posed by Southern Company’s plan to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta, Ga. announced their filing of an appeal in federal court to stop the proposed expansion.

Our appeal calls upon the court to review the site permit and the work authorization issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Vogtle Units 3 and 4. In the petition for review, filed in the US Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit, we contend that the NRC violated the Atomic Energy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other relevant laws. The appeal states, "Petitioners seek review and reversal of the issuance of the ESP and the LWA for the Vogtle ESP site." The appeal was filed by attorneys for the Center for a Sustainable Coast, Savannah River Keeper, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Read Press Release | Download Petition for Review

July 2009: Since 1987 Plant Vogtle has generated electric power. Today, two nuclear reactors operate at the site on banks of the Savannah River in Burke County, Georgia. Now Southern Company wants to add two more nuclear reactors. But the two existing reactors have placed an unfair burden on residents. More would be an environmental injustice. Here’s why. BREDL Factsheet

BREDL's Comments on Draft EIS for Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant - Dec. 28, 2007: Major problems we identified in the Plant Vogtle draft Environmental Impact Statement:
1) It dismisses the mounting evidence of negative impacts on the health of people living around nuclear plants;
2) The assessment of radiological releases to the public is fatally flawed; and
3) Radionuclide emissions data indicates harm to public.

The public record contains evidence that Vogtle has not and will not meet the requirements under federal law 10 CFR § 100.21 (c)(1). Test results for Vogtle indicate the existing nuclear power plant is the source of a variety of radionuclides which contaminate sediment, river water, fish and drinking water. There is an increase in negative health impacts in proximity to and contemporaneous with Plant Vogtle operations. Southern Nuclear Operating Company seeks to add two new nuclear reactors to the two already in operation at its Plant Vogtle power station near Waynesboro, Georgia. The company submitted an application for an early site permit in 2006.

View BREDL's Comments


June 20, 2007: The data presented in this report detail the increases in environmental radioactivity and local rises in cancer rates since the Vogtle reactors began operating. The parallel between these two trends is to be taken seriously, as radioactive fission products are carcinogenic, and are especially toxic to the young. The addition of two new reactors at Vogtle would double the capacity of the plant and presumable double the radioactive emissions. Assuming there is no major reduction in health risk to the local population – such as an influx of new medical services or a large reduction in poverty – the local population will be at increased risk of cancer, based on the findings in this report.

Report: Health Risks of New Reactors at Vogtle, June 2007
Vogtle - child cancer mortality change
Bio: Joseph J. Mangano, MPH, MBA, is Director, Secretary, and the National Coordinator of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

Mr. Mangano is a public health administrator and researcher who has studied the connection between low-dose radiation exposure and subsequent risk of diseases such as cancer and damage to newborns. He has published numerous articles and letters in medical and other journals in addition to his book Low Level Radiation and Immune System Disorders: An Atomic Era Legacy which examines the connection between radiation exposure and widespread health problems.

October 31, 2006: Help Stop Nuclear Power in Georgia - Southern Nuclear Company of Georgia wants to build additional nuclear power plants near Waynesboro. This would increase the negative health impacts on nearby residents and increase the cost of electric power. The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is joining with other groups who oppose this expansion. Will you help us?
(Declaration of Standing Deadline was December 8, 2006)
How you can help | 40 mile radius map (1MB)
Declaration of Standing
Legal Declaration/Standing Q&A Fact Sheet

March 16, 2006: Nuclear Power Licensing Factsheet - One-Step Licensing of Nuclear Plants Short-circuits Safety