Nine environmental groups last week filed a petition seeking U.S. appellate court review of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rule certificating the Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor, which will be used in two new units at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, a portion of which is publicly financed.

“The NRC acted arbitrarily, abused its discretion and violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Atomic Energy Act, the commission’s policies and regulations, the Council on Environmental Quality’s regulations, and other applicable laws and regulations in certifying the AP1000 reactor design,” said the petitioners.

They are asking the court to vacate the rule and to send it back to the NRC for further analysis.

On Feb. 9, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the combined construction and operating license for the new units at Plant Vogtle, whose primary owner is Southern Co.

The Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, a public generation and transmission organization, owns 22.7% of the new units at a cost approximately $3.7 billion.

MEAG’s capital funding for the project was largely secured in March 2010 through a $2.62 billion bond market financing at a net interest cost of 4.35%. The authority also has a $1.8 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

It is unclear if the legal action by the environmental groups will prevent work on the nuclear units from going forward.

The petitioners are: the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the Center for a Sustainable Coast, Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Friends of the Earth Inc., Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Nuclear Watch South Inc.

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