Alert: Southern’s Vogtle Reactor to grab groundwater

YOUR COMMENTS NEEDED — Deadline is Wed. Nov 28 — this week!

Addresses at bottom.

Issue: New Nukes want to suck groundwater at unprecedented rates!

Specifics: Southern Company is planning to expand (double) the Vogtle Nuclear Power Station in Georgia and are currently seeking an Early Site Permit from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC). Southern wants to add 2 new reactors to the 2 that are already operating on the site which is about 25 miles south of Augusta. A draft environmental impact statement has been completed by the USNRC — largely based on information supplied by Southern Company in their environmental report. There are MANY issues that could be covered — but very very striking is the admission that in order to meet the water needs of the expanded site, Southern is planning significant ground water withdrawals from the Cretaceous aquifer.

According to USNRC this deep water deposit would in 2045 (38 years from now, representing cumulative impact of all 4 reactors) be lowered as much as 12 feet at an offsite well that is closest to the site boundary. Interim draw down levels might be higher — as much as 20 feet — but recovery is anticipated. The projected cumulative total is the 12 feet reported on page 7-6 in Volume 1 of NUREG 1872. The impact is evaluated as “small” because it is viewed as a fraction of the total 400 feet available.

“Normal operation” is reported as requiring 1482 gallons per minute (gpm) — for 4 reactors
“Maximum” consumption is estimated to be 5440 gpm for 4 reactors

This is in addition to substantial impacts and surface water withdrawals from the Savannah River — where “average” flows are assumed (USNRC is confident that the drought conditions will reverse) and at “average” flow rates, they seem comfortable with Southern Company claiming 1/20th — or 5% of this noble river. There are many thermal impacts — see Southern Alliance for Clean Energy comments linked below for more details on overall impacts.

Simple message: The climate is changing — NRC and Southern Company have failed to look at the impact of climate change on water needs and availability. Further, the planet is warming — all thermal energy production (coal, nuclear, gas) discharge large amounts of heat into our environment and use a disproportionate share of a fragile and vital resource — water. NRC should place more value on forms of electric power production which do not require water for operation.

There are many many issues that should be commented on — for a more detailed set of comments to use as a guide — see Sara Baczak’s comments for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy posted at:

USNRC Document: The Draft EIS, NUREG-1872 is supposedly posted — but sadly in a file form that will not open (at least on my computer) !!! at:
(If you feel like it call the following number to complain about this: Frances (Chip) Cameron — 301-415-1642)

Comment Deadline: Nov 28 (this Wednesday)
Document Title: Draft Environmental Impact Statement for an Early Site Permit (ESP) at the Vogtle Nuclear Electric Generating Site (NUREG 1872)

How to Send Comments: Electronic submission may be done by pasting into a window at the link below:

by email to:

by US mail — post mark by Nov 28
Chief Rules, Directives and Editing Branch
Mail Stop T6-D59
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Thank you!

Mary Olson
NIRS Southeast Regional Coordinator


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