US to decide on first nuclear reactors since 1978

US regulators are considering a plan to build the country’s first nuclear power plant in a generation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to vote on Atlanta-based Southern Co’s request to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia.

If approved, the $US14bn reactors could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

The NRC approved a new reactor design for the Vogtle plant in December.

President Barack Obama has offered the Vogtle project $US8.3bn in federal loan guarantees as part of its pledge to expand nuclear power.

Obama and other proponents say greater use of nuclear power could cut the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and create energy without producing emissions blamed for global warming.

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