Environmentalists speak against adding reactors

Monday, April 28, 2008
Augusta Chronicle
By Rob Pavey| Staff Writer

A proposal to add two new reactors to Plant Vogtle drew praise from
politicians and economic developers Sunday but brought renewed concerns from
environmentalists over the reactors' potential impact on dwindling water

Plant Vogtle wants to add two nuclear reactors, but some environmentalists
worry about the effect on the Savannah River.
Click photo for options

Waynesboro Mayor George DeLoach, the first to speak during a hearing in
Augusta in front of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, said he fully
supports the project.

"Georgia Power and Plant Vogtle have been great community leaders," he said,
noting that rural Burke County relies heavily on Vogtle's tax revenues,
which have helped build schools, a public library, a hospital and other
vital facilities.

Bill Mareska, an Augusta dentist, offered a different point of view, urging
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to demand more studies into how much water
the new reactors would remove from the Savannah River, especially during
extended drought.

"The Savannah River is not inexhaustible," he said. He said the addition of
two reactors could double the 69 million gallons of water the existing
reactors extract each day, only about one-third of which is returned to the

Mr. Mareska said that before federal regulators decide whether to permit the
project, a detailed study into the consequences of a worst-case-scenario
drought should be conducted to gauge potential harm to the river and its
ecosystem -- and determine whether Vogtle could be shut down if water
supplies are inadequate.

A.K. Hasan, the founder of the pro-nuclear group Citizens for Nuclear
Energy, said additional studies aren't needed.

"There are plenty of aquatic issue documents available," he said, referring
to the studies conducted as part of the licensing for the existing reactors.

Nuclear energy is no longer something to be feared, he said in recommending
approval for Southern Nuclear Operating Co.'s permit request.

Larry Kelliher, however, offered Chernobyl and Three Mile Island as evidence
that nuclear energy isn't always safe.

"Safety comes from shutting down plants, not adding more of them," he said,
stating that such facilities invite terrorism and create a legacy of deadly

Nuclear facilities, he added, are also historically more costly than
expected and take longer to build.

"The quoted costs are more like the tip of the iceberg," he said.

Sunday's hearing was one of three to be held in Augusta this week. An
additional public comment meeting is scheduled for 7 tonight. There is also
a 5 p.m. presentation during which the board will discuss Southern Nuclear's
Early Site Permit and Combined License applications. Both meetings are at
the DoubleTree Hotel on Perimeter Parkway.

Southern Nuclear applied for an early site permit Aug. 15, 2006. If
approved, it would give the company 20 years to decide whether to build one
or more reactors at the plant, and to apply to the commission for permits to
initiate construction.

Plant Vogtle is in Burke County, about 26 miles south of Augusta.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or

© 2008 The Augusta Chronicle