Negative Reactions To Proposed Reactor

8 years 9 months 3 weeks ago Tuesday, December 28 2010 Dec 28, 2010 Tuesday, December 28, 2010 7:30:06 PM CST December 28, 2010 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Not everyone is happy about Governor Nixon's plans to fund the permitting process for a second nuclear reactor in Callaway County. Opponents worry that the benefits of nuclear power don't outweigh the risks with nuclear wastes, potential accidents, and terrorist attacks.

"You know we dropped two bombs on Japan...well these plants have ten times as much nuclear energy in them as one of them bombs did. It would just take one accident to wipe out our bread basket of the mid-west. Then where are we going to get our food?" Centralia resident Louis Anesi said.

Anesi is also an Ameren UE customer and Sierra Club member. He says nuclear energy is not a safe way to keep the lights on.

"I'm concerned about the environment. And all they're insured about is money and jobs. Well a jobs no good if you don't have a clean, healthy environment," Anesi said.

Osage Sierra Club chair Hank Ottinger agrees. He's worried about the effects of an accident.

"If a nuclear power plant is up and running, and it stays that way then say fine, there's very little Co2 going out, everything's fine. But if something goes wrong, you know people near by and even far away are in a world of hurt," Ottinger said.

But officials told KOMU that safety is not an issue. MU Nuclear Engineering Professor William Miller has been working with the technology for almost 35 years and said the plant in Callaway County has been running smoothly for all of its 26 years of service.

"No one in the public has ever been harmed by nuclear power in the United States and there's really no other industry that has that sort of record. So, it's extremely safe and we expect the newer reactors to be an order of magnitude more safe than the present ones," Miller said.

Ottinger said he worries about the harm from nuclear wastes. He said the material must be confined for thousands of years before it's no longer hazardous.

"The economics, and the hazards, and the amazing amount of time that's involved really raise this issue of waste. I think people tend to think of the word waste as 'Oh yeah that's something we don't need. Don't worry about it, it's just waste.' Well this stuff isn't just waste, it's dangerous," Ottinger said.

He said it's not safe to transport hazardous wastes across the country to storage sites. However, Professor Miller said the transport of nuclear wastes is something officials take very seriously.

"We have shipped over 3,000 shipments of high level waste in the United States since we started the nuclear industry. There's never been anyone harmed from those. There's actually been some accidents, you have accidents on the roads. The casks that we put the materials in are designed to withstand a thirty inch drop into a sharp spike, an 80 mile per hour collision into an unyielding surface, a fire for 45 minutes that's at 1,475 degrees Fahrenheit, and then submersion in water for 24 hours and they're not supposed to leak. And that's the kind of precautions we take to make sure no one can get into or disperse the nuclear materials from a transport cask," Miller said.

Scott Holste spoke for Governor Jay Nixon. He said another nuclear reactor will help Missouri stay up to date with the state's energy needs and is currently the safest, most efficient source of power.

"Callaway 1 has shown that the plant can be operated and has been operated in a very safe manner. We believe that nuclear power can represent a clean, safe, and affordable source of energy for Missouri for the coming decades," Holste said.

Ottinger said he believes the state should invest in and build jobs around energy efficiency.

"Why don't we look at what those needs are. I'm not saying that people need to freeze in the dark or boil in the summer, but there are ways that we can use that energy far more efficiently than we are right now," Ottinger said. "If we painted the tops of all flat buildings in Columbia white, we would reflect enormous amounts of solar energy back up there, reducing the amount of energy needed to cool."

Both Ottinger and Anesi urge the state to look into alternative forms of energy.

"We have wind, solar, geothermal, biomass. We have all kind of safer and renewable energy sources," Anesi said.

Professor Miller said relying on just solar and wind energy is a long time coming because the system of energy is so large. He said the state needs nuclear energy to replace the current heavy usage of fossil fuels.

According the the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, in 2007 94 percent of energy use in the state came from fossil fuels. 33 percent of the use was for transportation.

"Our energy need are sufficient enough that we're going to need all of our resources and we've got to get off of fossil fuels. So I hope it's not an either or, but yes, some nuclear plants to provide electricity 24/7 around the clock, we need it, wind mills and solar to supplement that when the wind is blowing, when the sun is shining, and everything we can to get off the fossil fuels," Miller said.

The second nuclear reactor wouldn't be completed until at least 2022. Anesi said he's going to write letters to his lawmakers urging them to pursue energy alternatives.




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