The foundation for Plant Vogtle's unit 4 in 2010. Image: copyright Southern Company, Inc.

Quick update: Two days of testimony wrapped up yesterday concerning the construction and operation of Plant Vogtle's new commercial nuclear reactors. This was the first time the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) considered approving both licenses at the same time.

Previously, companies like Southern Company, which is seeking the combined license, would receive construction permits during the project's initial phase. Then, only after construction was complete, would it seek an operating license as evidence of the reactor's safety. But the process has been simplified in hopes of reducing the costs and time associated with building nuclear reactors.

Much of Tuesday and Wednesday's hearing focused on whether Plant Vogtle achieves the criteria for environmental and human safety - issues stark in people's minds due the Fukushima disaster. The NRC will likely decide by early 2012 on whether Southern receives the license. It also needs to approve the final design of the Westing­house AP1000 reactor, two of which are designated to be built at Plant Vogtle in Ga.

You can watch the hearing here.