In a 4-1 vote, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Friday approved an application for two combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) for new Generation III+ reactors at V.C. Summer Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. The project has been proposed by South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G), principal subsidiary of SCANA Corp., and Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility.

The NRC said findings from its mandatory hearing imposed two conditions on the COLs. The first requires inspection and testing of squib valves, important components of the new reactors’ passive cooling system. The second requires the development of strategies to respond to extreme natural events resulting in the loss of power at the new reactors.

The commission also directed its Office of New Reactors to issue to SCE&G and Santee Cooper, simultaneously with the COLs, an order requiring enhanced, reliable spent fuel pool instrumentation, as well as a request for information related to emergency plant staffing.

SCE&G and Santee Cooper submitted the COL application on March 27, 2008. The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) independently reviewed aspects of the application that concern safety, as well as a draft of the staff’s Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER), the NRC said.

The NRC on Feb. 9 voted 4-1, with Chairman Gregory Jaczko dissenting, to award Southern Co. a COL to build and operate two AP1000 units at its Vogtle plant near Augusta, Ga. Southern Co.’s first units may come online between 2016 and 2017, and SCANA’s two AP1000 units will come online in 2019.

“Receiving approval of our licenses to construct and operate units 2 and 3 at V.C. Summer is a significant event for our company and marks the culmination of an intense review by the NRC,” said Kevin Marsh, chairman and CEO of SCANA. “We look forward to building these two new nuclear units to enhance our ability to meet the energy needs of our customers.”

The reactors are a critical component of Santee Cooper’s long-term plan to diversify its generation mix, Lonnie Carter, president and CEO of Santee Cooper, added.

About 1,000 workers are currently engaged in early site preparation work at the V.C. Summer construction site. The project will peak at about 3,000 construction craft workers over the course of three to four years.

Sources: POWERnews, NRC, SCANA Corp.