OCALA – The proposed building of a nuclear plant in Levy County got a push forward Tuesday when the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected a challenge by two environmental groups opposing the plan on environmental grounds, according to a media release Tuesday from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service and the Ecology Party of Florida had challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s final environmental impact statement on the nuclear plant’s environmental impacts. In late October, the ASLB presided over a two-day hearing in Bronson, during which the environmental groups had a chance to question the report in front of panels of experts.
The location of the proposed Levy County two-reactor project is nine miles inland from the Gulf Coast, in an area with more than 700 acres of fresh-water wetlands.
NRC spokesperson Joey Ledford said Tuesday’s decision was “another milestone in a long process.”
“We are one step closer to a combined license,” he added, referring to a combined construction and operating license, to be carried out by Duke Energy.
The first two nuclear plants approved for a combined license — Plant Vogtle in Georgia and Plant Summer in South Carolina — are currently under construction, Ledford added.
The proposed plant in Florida must still clear a few hurdles, however, before licensing would be granted, Ledford continued.
In the coming months, the NRC will produce its final safety report, which looks at things like how weather patterns might affect safety — if heavy winds, for example, could cause radiation to be released, or the impact of flooding. It also looks at off-site power supplies, Ledford said.