Feds to be 'vigilant' on Vogtle expansion project

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will continue its scrutiny of a nuclear power plant being built in Georgia, but it also has a good relationship with the utility leading the project, the agency head said Friday.

NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane traveled to east Georgia to tour the two existing reactors at Plant Vogtle, as well as the two reactors now under construction. The effort was initially expected to cost roughly $14 billion, but Southern Co. and its partners have faced cost overruns since then.

"Although this is a very complicated construction project I'm reminded about the importance of our inspectors going through, catching issues. But I'd like to point out that ... we have a good working relationship with the Southern Company," Macfarlane said, adding that the NRC had approved changes to the design sought by the company.

"We'll continue to be vigilant over the construction activities and the operating reactors and ensure that they operate safely," she said.

Macfarlane was joined on the tour by Rep. John Barrow, a Democrat, who said the reactors will provide electricity that allows for economic growth in the decades to come.

A plant based on the same design is currently under construction in South Carolina.