3417 Sutton Place ~ Augusta, Georgia 30906 ~ Phone (706) 772-5558 ~ Email:


November 19, 2012, 3:45 PM EST

Charles Utley (706) 831-7180
Louis Zeller (336) 977-0852

Residents Raise Vogtle Safety Issues at Meeting with Obama Administration

Today Georgians concerned about Plant Vogtle met with Obama Administration officials to deliver a letter of grievances against the nuclear power plant in their midst. The meeting at the White House conference center included Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Paul Seidler, Director of External Affairs for Environmental Management for the US Department of Energy. Among those at the meeting representing the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League were Rev. Charles Utley, staff Environmental Justice Campaigner, and Board Vice President Rev. Willie Tomlin.

Reflecting on the nuclear disaster in Japan, Rev. Utley said, “For some time we have been seeking to improve the safety and security of our families and neighbors who live near the Plant Vogtle nuclear power station. However, our efforts have met with little effective response from those who are charged with emergency evacuation and shelter.”

In a letter delivered in person to Mr. Carson, Rev. Utley listed his community’s concerns: Georgia Power is not providing enough information to people living within the 10-mile emergency planning zone around Plant Vogtle, and many residents lack personal transportation and would be unable to get to shelter in time to prevent radiation exposure in the event of an accident.

Additional concerns included taxpayer-financed support for nuclear power, namely the $8.3 billion loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy. Rev. Utley explained, “The DOE Loan Program is supposed to protect US taxpayers by ensuring the loan guarantees have a reasonable prospect of repayment. But if this were so, Georgia Power’s parent Southern Company would have gotten private investors instead of taxpayers to back Plant Vogtle.” Early, optimistic construction cost estimates have understated the actual costs. Presently, with work only on the foundation, the Vogtle project is nearly a billion dollars over budget.

The DOE’s Paul Seidler promised to come to Georgia to visit the people of Shell Bluff and hear more about these issues.