Challenge To Plant Vogtle Construction Decision Dismissed — Again

Nuclear regulators say they’ll give greater scrutiny to construction of two new nuclear reactors being built in Georgia after an inspection found electrical cables were not properly separated. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the results of the special inspection Friday.

John Bazemore / Associated Press file

Updated at 11:54 a.m. Friday

A Fulton County court has again decided not to consider a challenge to the Plant Vogtle nuclear power expansion.

Georgia regulators had decided in late 2017 to allow the construction of two new nuclear power units at the Waynesboro plant to continue, despite cost overruns and a slipping timeline.

Critics of the project appealed, and the Fulton County Superior Court has now said, twice, that it can’t consider the challenge until the project is complete.

On Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua granted a motion to dismiss the case. The court had previously said it couldn’t rule; that decision was appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which then remanded part of the case.

“Petitioners have not shown that future judicial review of a final Commission decision would not provide them an adequate remedy,” LaGrua wrote.

The appeal had been filed against the Georgia Public Service Commission, but Georgia Power had intervened to move to dismiss.

“We are disappointed by the decision,” Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Kurt Ebersbach wrote in a statement. SELC is one of the groups challenging the PSC.

“This decision means we must wait several years to press the merits of our claims, which will make it harder to protect customers from bearing the full brunt of this costly project, the most expensive in state history,” he wrote.

The Vogtle expansion was supposed to be done by now. It’s now expected to be completed in late 2022. It’s the only nuclear power construction project in the country.

Earlier this month, the number of workers on site at the plant was reduced to limit the impact of COVID-19. More than 40 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Correction: The decision was appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, not the Georgia Supreme Court. The article has been updated.