Nuclear Watch South Points to Regulatory Gap in Nuclear Construction Oversight

ATLANTA 3/13/18: Nuclear Watch South made a third request on Tuesday to the Georgia State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors for official investigation into alleged engineering malpractice at Vogtle 3 & 4.

The statewide environmental nonprofit is concerned that the engineering licenses of lead contractors at Vogtle 3 & 4, that is, Southern Nuclear Company and Southern Company, have been lapsed since 2000. Nuclear Watch South is further concerned about the practice of using drawings in construction of Vogtle 3 & 4 which have not been reviewed and authorized by registered professional engineers.

Nuclear Watch South initially requested an investigation in December and subsequently received a series of brief dismissals from Georgia Power, the State of Georgia and finally a vague and nonspecific issue closure statement from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) whom Georgia Power believes to be the responsible authority for engineering standards at Vogtle.

The practice of using blueprints without professional licensed engineer's review and signature was established from the start of Vogtle 3 & 4 construction by Westinghouse, who managed the reactor and site construction prior to Southern Nuclear and who is also the Vogtle AP1000 reactor designer.

A 2011 internal Westinghouse memo was uncovered by Charleston Post & Courier investigation which discusses the likelihood of the Westinghouse practice running afoul of state laws and legal challenge. The memo was suppressed until September 2017 when it was uncovered by the Charleston Post and Courier following the July 2017 cancellation of the other AP1000 project under construction in South Carolina.

The recent filing by Nuclear Watch South challenges Georgia Secretary of State and Georgia Power arguments that Vogtle is not in Georgia’s jurisdiction. The group renews its request for an investigation and asks that the engineering issues be placed on the agenda at the May 8 board meeting in Macon.

In its request, Nuclear Watch South forwards to the Board the NRC's closure memo to National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) which had asked for NRC investigation into blueprint practices in South Carolina back in October.

In its February memo closing the issue with NSPE, the NRC is clear that it does not require RPE (registered professional engineer) oversight for all of the drawings and blueprints and describes the limits to its oversight and investigation practice at a reactor construction site. While the federal agency does not require all blueprints to have professional review and signature, it does require project closure documents to bear the stamp of an RPE. However, it only inspects such documents in response to specific allegations, which leaves a regulatory gap in the opinion of Nuclear Watch South. In a telling footnote, the NRC discusses the need for a clear regulation as to the nature of agency requirements with respect to RPE review.

Nuclear Watch South Coordinator Glenn Carroll says, “Everyone is admitting they are building Plant Vogtle using amateur drawings. Georgia Power points to the NRC, and the NRC says its requirements are only to have a professional sign off on the project closure documents. That’s locking the barn door after the horse gets out! We’re bleeding money in Georgia for do-overs, bad parts, and construction delays from this bad business. … and that’s only about the money … what about the health and safety of Georgia’s people and environment? It needs to be made clear who is watching out for that.”

Nuclear Watch South also forwards to the State Board the NRC's civil fine of $145,000 issued in February for faked inspection reports at Vogtle I and II which were submitted by at least 13 Southern Company employees over an extended period of time. The NRC letter says the faked inspections were the result of “deliberate misconduct” by Southern Company system operators which “intentionally precluded” the safety and regulatory oversight of the NRC at Plant Vogtle. Southern Company admitted the problem and has undertaken additional training to correct the erosion in safety culture at Plant Vogtle.

In its February 9, 2018, filing with the Board, Nuclear Watch South cites the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, Georgia listing for 21,070 professional licensed engineers in Georgia and exhorts the Board to take action to uphold the integrity of the engineering profession in Georgia. In that filing, Nuclear Watch South also reminds that Vogtle AP1000 reactors are no longer warrantied by Toshiba and Westinghouse as part of the $3.7 billion settlement recently given to Georgia Power.





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Stop Georgia Power
Nuclear Rip-Off Bill -
Nuclear Watch South

The Senate Bill 355

Another Georgia Watch News Info Update:

These organizations and individuals have opposed taking school money all along

Georgia Watch  

Nuclear Watch South 

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Clark Howard


Residential customer Ms. Stumpf kept track of the extra charges on her bill:  Over $700.00 and counting ! 

[ See The SavannahNow News ]


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An excellent resource for comprehensive information:

Nuclear Watch South


See the press conference video


A background article from 2009:

Georgia Power's prepay financing scheme



Millions collected from schools, taxpayers for Vogtle construction  
June 12, 2017 By Thomas Gardiner The Augusta Chronicle


As most schools in Georgia, The Savannah-Chatham Public School System has paid surcharge money as part of their monthly bills to Georgia Power. It’s money the schools could have used to hire an additional four teachers.  
August 28, 2017 By Mary Landers Savannah Now



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Hundreds of thousands taken directly from YOUR local schools and school districts!



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Millions of
Georgia School
Tax Dollars

taken by the power company to build their private power plant.

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 Comment in the Atlanta Journal Constitution Nov 6

Money is being taken from schools all over the state every month by Georgia Power. They add a nuclear construction surcharge to the school electric bill. In Atlanta, they are taking about a million dollars a year from APS to build their nuclear plant. This is school money paid in school taxes. Georgia Power takes it to build their plant, so they can sell power from that plant. Atlanta Public Schools could better use that money for school purposes. We need to amend the state law that lets Georgia Power take school money. Shameful. Ask yourself, where did this law come from?


Comment in the Atlanta Journal Constitution Nov 7

The unfair surcharge [Georgia Power] pushed through in 2009 needs amending, so schools aren't forced to put any more scarce school money into this private VogtleVortex money pit.


From testimony presented by Robert Searfoss at the Georgia Public Service Commission November 6, 2017

School tax money that's supposed to be for schools is taken for the nuclear surtax.

We can argue the good-bad, pro-con, do-don’t of nuclear power, and we do that here;

however, who here, or who statewide in Georgia, will argue that it is a good idea to take school money to build a private company's nuclear plant?

The Georgia Power lawyer said, "They shall take the surcharge money...It’s the law." They should know the law. They wrote the law.

Well, it's time to amend that law.

This year, the surcharge is taking one million dollars from Atlanta Public Schools.

And that’s why the law that forces Georgia Power to take schools' money needs to be amended in 2018 to exempt schools.



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