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TVA needs more time for security measures

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is asking for a 2½-year extension of a March 31 deadline to comply with federal security requirements at its nuclear power plants.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in federal filings last week it is considering requests for more time to increase security around the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, the Sequoyah plant near Soddy-Daisy and Browns Ferry near Athens, Ala.

TVA spokesman Terry Johnson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the utility has spent more than $30 million to strengthen security around its nuclear plants since the 9/11 attacks, but there are a limited number of contractors able to do the work. And NRC spokesman Joey Ledford said most of the U.S. nuclear plants have requested extensions.

But Ed Lyman, a senior nuclear scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, called TVA’s request “outrageous” and said it was much longer than what most other utilities are requesting.

For example, Southern Nuclear has promised to comply with the rules by Sept. 27 at its Vogtle Plant near Augusta, Ga.

“Here we are, nearly a decade after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and yet TVA says it still can’t comply until late 2012 with all of the security requirements adopted to protect our nuclear plants,” Lyman said. “That’s unacceptable, and we certainly will oppose granting such an extended exemption.”

TVA has nearly 9 million consumers in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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