From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

On Wednesday, the federal utility's board of directors unanimously approved completion of the Unit 2 reactor at the Spring City, Tenn., plant, about 65 miles southwest of Knoxville.

The construction effort is expected to last five years and cost $2.49 billion.

Construction at the Watts Bar nuclear generating facility began in 1973. TVA mothballed it's nuclear power program in 1985, and Watts Bar Unit 1 eventually came online in 1996, the last commercial reactor startup in the US until the recent Browns Ferry restart.

Opponents were outspoken at the hearing:

"Nuclear power is not clean, and the idea that you all found no significant impacts on your environmental impact statement is a joke," said Earth First! activist John Johnson, referring to a federally required environmental study released in June.

Stephen Smith, executive director of Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, asked TVA board members to delay the decision and undergo a more transparent review of the project.

Smith also criticized TVA for basing its cost and scheduling estimates on a $20 million study done in part by Bechtel Power Corp. and other contractors that likely will work on the reactor's construction.

Here is Stephen Smith's full statement to the TVA board.

TVA has an existing construction permit for Watts Bar Unit 2 that expires in 2010, but will have to obtain an operating permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before the reactor can be brought online.