- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing to levy a $145,000 civil penalty on Southern Nuclear for violations that occurred at the Vogtle nuclear facility in Georgia in 2016.
- Regulators say employees at the plant failed to complete required checks of the facility and equipment on multiple occasions, but then indicated in logs that the inspections had been completed.
- In addition to operating Vogtle's existing pair of generating units, Southern Nuclear is project manager at the site overseeing development of two additional units. Despite delays and cost overruns, Georgia regulators voted unanimously to allow the company to continue work on the facility last year.
The NRC's fine proposal has few details on what happened at Vogtle, but the agency did not find any safety consequences, and said it did not know of any equipment issues or conditions missed during the nonexistent rounds.
According to the NRC, an investigation last August concluded that over a three month span in 2016,13 system operators did not complete their required rounds, but indicated through an electronic log that they did so. Southern Nuclear, which will have 30 days to either protest or pay the fine, has taken disciplinary action as well as making revisions to procedures, oversight and training.
But the $145,000 fine is a drop in the bucket compared to the actual construction costs of Vogtle's new units.
The pair of reactors were originally estimated to cost $14 billion and expected online in 2016 and 2017. The reactors are now estimated to cost as much as $25 billion and are expected in service in 2021 and 2022. Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern, owns 45.7% of the project.