The outgoing head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had no major issues last week as he toured a nuclear reactor under construction in South Carolina, one of the first new reactors in the country being built in a generation.
“A construction site like this will always have a lot of challenges and changes and modifications in the process and the schedule, so it’s still pretty early in the process,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said during a conference call after visiting the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville.
Earlier this year, the commission approved a request by South Carolina Electric & Gas to build two new 1,100-megawatt reactors at V.C. Summer.
The project was only the second to receive federal approval in a generation. SCE&G’s partner in the nuclear expansion is Moncks Corner-based state-owned utility Santee Cooper.
Jaczko said there are three inspectors permanently assigned to the plant.
“There is an issue of minor significance, and it has to do with some of the rebar used in concrete for some of the base structures of the building,” he said. “They are working through to make corrections to it.”
Jaczko’s visit to the plant was planned before he announced last Monday that he was resigning as head of the commission that oversees safety at the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors.
Jaczko voted against the license for the Summer plant, which is being operated with the state-owned utility Santee Cooper, when it came up for approval before the NRC back in March.
He wants licenses to require all safety improvements presently being developed by the NRC staff based on what was learned in the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan, last year.
“There are a number of issues that we have identified that need to be addressed not just by this plant but by all the plants in the country,” he said. “They involve issues from emergency planning guidelines to procedures that are used to deal with an accident situation.”
He said it will take the commission time to identify such improvements but said he would like them to be part of the V.C. Summer operation before the reactors are started.
The first of the new Summer reactors is expected to be online in four years, the second in 2019.
SC&G officials have said the project is expected to cost about $10 billion.