ATHENS, TN — The leader of an environmental group Tuesday asked nuclear regulators how they could ensure that the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor's concrete foundation — poured 40 years ago — is still sufficient to support the nation's newest reactor expected to go online in 2015.

"Roads and bridges don't last 40 years, and you're about to license this [to operate] for another 40 years. And if you give it another 20 after that, like you usually do, by the time the plant is retired that concrete will be 100 years old," said Don Safer, board chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council.

Robert Haag, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction projects chief, told Safer and about a dozen others at a hearing in Athens near the Spring City plant on Tuesday that the plant has been completely inspected.

"Is it going to be brand new? No. But ... inspections show it is capable of performing its function," Haag said.

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