Environmental Protection

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill

IBEW Chief Answers New Reactors' Critics

International President Edwin D. Hill promises a "bold, timely and safe startup" of two new nuclear reactors that are planned with federal loan guarantees near Augusta, Ga.

Writing in the March issue of The Electrical Worker, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' official publication, IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill promises union members will help to make certain the two new nuclear power reactors planned for the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Burke, Ga., are successfully completed. "Nuclear has its critics who are already saying that massive cost overruns will lead to default on loans, or that safety and operational problems could put us in greater peril. These critics don't know the IBEW. They don't know the exemplary performance of thousands of members in nuclear plants and construction sites across the nation. They soon will," Hill wrote, adding, "Our success at Plant Vogtle will be measured by the yardsticks of a swift learning curve and a bold, timely and safe startup." (The critics include Greenpeace and Public Citizen.)

The IBEW magazine's March issue is focused on green jobs and job creation in the recovering U.S. economy.

President Obama announced Feb. 16 that the Department of Energy has offered conditional commitments for $8.33 billion in loan guarantees to build and operate the new reactors, which would be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground with such a project in nearly three decades. He and Hill contend additional nuclear power is crucial to meeting U.S. energy demand, and the 3,000 construction jobs for this project -- at the peak time in 2014 -- are likewise crucial for the IBEW; Hill's column says the union and other building trades unions are close to signing a new project labor agreement with Southern Company. The company's nuclear plant operating company, Southern Nuclear Operating Co., operates Vogtle and two other nuclear plants that provide about 20 percent of the electricity used in Alabama and Georgia.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's schedule lists an April 12, 2011, date for completing the final safety evaluation report (FSER) for the two reactors.

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