|published Thursday, November 06, 2008 ||3778 Views :: 5 Comments |
For Immediate Release
Nov. 6, 2008
Contact: Andrea Shipley
(208) 514-8713 Cell
Elmore County Planners: Reject AEHI Nuke Plant
Elmore County officials delivered a serious blow to developers of a proposed nuclear reactor near Mountain Home Wednesday night, recommending against rezoning more than 1,300 acres of Snake River farmland for use as the reactor site.
The Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend the County Commission reject the rezoning request by Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. AEHI wants to rezone a large tract of land from agricultural to heavy industrial to accommodate its proposed 1,600MW reactor, but the Planning Commission determined the rezoning would violate Elmore County’s Comprehensive Plan for myriad reasons. The project now moves to the three-member Board of County Commissioners, which can accept or reject the recommendation and which can hold its own hearings.
“This is a huge victory for the people of Elmore County who spoke so eloquently and forcefully to defend Elmore County from this outlandish nuclear reactor scheme,” Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said. “We congratulate them for their passionate defense of their cherished way of life and the land and water that is so vital to these communities and to all of Idaho.”
Commissioners discussed the rezoning request at length following a 90-minute presentation by AEHI consultant Mark Pecchenino, who after three earlier public hearings was given a chance to rebut testimony by dozens of concerned residents who opposed the project and the rezoning of prime farmland to a heavy industrial use.
“This application is not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan,” Commissioner Al Sobtzak said before the vote against the AEHI request. Commission Chairman Nick Nettleton agreed, saying the Comprehensive Plan requires all heavy industrial activities be located in the county’s only M2 zone, which is along the Simco Road area south of Interstate 84 - nearly 20 miles to the west of the proposed reactor site at the Elmore-Ada County boundary.
Commissioners also agreed with county residents and others who said the Comprehensive Plan places agricultural land at a premium, and that the plant would undermine other parts of the Plan that call for the protection of the rural way of life around Hammett, which is only five miles from the site.
Nettleton said county planners deliberately designated the Simco Road area for heavy industrial: “We were open-minded to having more heavy industrial; the question was where,” he said. He also said there are 31 houses within two miles of the site, adding, “That’s too close to heavy industrial. This isn’t something you put next to a person’s house.”
“There could have been no other decision,” Shipley said. “The Alliance strongly opposes any commercial nuclear reactor anywhere in Idaho, but regardless of how one feels about nuclear power, this is clearly the worst kind of project in the worst possible location.”
The Alliance joined a formidable coalition of farmers, medical professionals, water users, educators and families countywide who objected to obliterating hundreds of acres of farmland for a water-intensive energy complex that will generate massive amounts of radioactive waste. The project also threatens to upend Elmore County’s rural lifestyle by injecting thousands of construction workers into the county, requiring hundreds of new homes to house them, and severely taxing the county’s roads, schools, and public services. One commissioner also said the plant would violate the Comprehensive Plan’s protection of the private property rights of nearby property owners – despite Pecchenino’s claim that nuclear plants actually increase the value of surrounding property.
In addition, a report prepared by the Planning and Zoning staff cautioned that the reactor project would certainly have an impact on the rural Snake River Plain lifestyle, not to mention impacting the ink-dark skies so valuable to the nearby Bruneau Dunes State Park’s observatory with bright lights.
AEHI CEO Don Gillispie did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, nor has he attended the three before it. His company last month filed its Registration of Securities with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, confirming AEHI lacks the resources to build the reactor, let alone buy the land or file required applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The SEC filing brims with cautions to would-be investors that the reactor scheme could fail for numerous reasons. It also said AEHI might need to spend $6 million to buy water rights above those that would come with the land that AEHI has not yet purchased.
Despite claims by AEHI that the reactor would use a new technology that requires less water to cool the plant, farmers and other county residents argued forcefully before the Commission that the project will consume enormous amounts of water from the Snake River, which already is so over-allocated that the Idaho Department of Resources once again recently issued a warning to Snake River water rights holders that their access to water might be curtailed next year if river conditions can’t support the huge demand.
While Wednesday night’s vote was a major setback for AEHI and its reactor plans, Shipley cautioned the County Commission could still ignore the Planning Commission’s recommendation and move the project ahead.
“We can’t imagine county commissioners will reject such a resounding message from the Planning Commission,” Shipley said, “but the Alliance and the diligent groups of concerned residents will continue to make the case that this is a blatant insult to the Comprehensive Plan. This won’t end until the AEHI withdraws its proposal and leaves Elmore County.”
Shipley also noted Elmore County is actually AEHI’s second choice for its reactor. The company originally selected what it described as the “perfect site” in Owyhee County at C.J. Strike Reservoir, 15 miles downstream on the Snake River. “Even if Elmore County sends AEHI packing, which we believe will happen, AEHI has a history of taking its nomad nuclear plant on the road to another county,” Shipley said. “We will work relentlessly to make sure that doesn’t happen and that another county isn’t victimized by this project.”
The Snake River Alliance has a long history of advocating for the cleanup of the radioactive legacy from the Cold War at the Idaho National Laboratory and protecting the Snake River Aquifer that lies underneath the contamination. It also advocates clean energy alternatives to nuclear and fossil fuel power generation.
by R E Carlson, MD on Friday, November 07, 2008|
The fear-mongering success of the Alliance is impressive. We lived next to a nuclear reactor in PA, and have seen first hand the French succeed with nuclear power.
Hopefully, the Elmore Commission will use common sense and overturn the flawed decision of the P and Z.
Best wishes for safe and adequate power.
by Leo Leonardo on Thursday, November 20, 2008|
The French have a mess. Their waste recyclcing system is polluting and their power is highly state subsidized, as is nuclear power in the USA, which would not be able to compete on the open market if it were not for the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act. The US tax payers pays out the nose for nuclear which is highly cost ineffective. The USA is awash in nuclear waste from the Cold War, still no safe way to treat it, and all the waste stored at aging nuclear power plants nationwide, Yucca Mountain, if it were to open today, could only accept half of what there is. The French nuclear utility, Areva (formerly Cogema) has a record of safety violations. Aging nuclear reactors worldwide are leaking into groundwater and that includes the ones in the Champagne region of France. Not to mention the Super Phoenix pollution of the North Sea, which plumes all the way up to the Arctic along with the Sellafield site across the channel in England. It's the water....nuclear pollution of the water....if not the dust.... As for the USA, see link below for interactive map of USA nuclear power reactors and their current state of ground water pollution and safety, on a site by site basis....
Link to an interactive map that lets you track nuclear site safety in the USA
by Martin Johncox on Thursday, December 18, 2008|
There is another side to this issue other than what the Snake River Alliance presents. Please see cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com and www.idahoenergycomplex.com for more information.
Also, thank you for this opportunity to respond. The Snake River Alliance has stopped allowing citizens to comment on its site so I appreciate your taking input.
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