(Shell Bluff, GA) – Concerned citizens from Waynesboro, Augusta, and Atlanta met today at noon in the rural community of Shell Bluff to discuss issues surrounding Southern Nuclear Operating Company (Georgia Power) plans to build two additional nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle on the Savannah River.
Hosting the meeting at Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church was church member and long time resident of Shell Bluff, Annie Laura Howard Stephens, also a member of Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions. “The people perish for lack of knowledge,” said Ms. Stephens. “That’s why we’re coming together – to change that.”
Joining Ms. Stephens in her call to hear concerns from the community was the Reverend Charles Utley of Hyde Park in Augusta. “We care about the health of all of our brothers and sisters, here in Shell Bluff, along the Savannah River, everywhere!” said Rev Utley who works with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. “We want our communities to be environmentally safe and contamination free.”
Meeting participants included leaders of educational, non-profit groups that are legally intervening, on behalf of members who live within 40 miles of nuclear Plant Vogtle, to stop the permitting, construction, and licensing of a third and fourth reactor to the site. “This project is not a done deal,” said Bobbie Paul, Director of Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions that secured legal assistance from the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University to challenge Georgia Power’s nuclear expansion plans in Burke County.
Turner Clinic is now appealing the August 2009 issuance of an Early Site Permit (ESP) to Georgia Power by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) with the Court of Appeals in the Washington DC Circuit claiming that the issuance violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Atomic Energy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Turner Clinic lawyers are also challenging Georgia Power’s plans for a construction and operating license (COLA) which cannot be issued until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepts a suitable reactor design.
Westinghouse/Toshiba is now on its 17th design of the new AP1000 reactor, slated to be used at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle,’ said Paul. “Costs caused by delays are starting to mount up — and we’re still on the drawing board!” “This from the Georgia Power utility that has been given every conceivable financial break in our state and now, on top of it all, an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to sweeten the deal even more from our President. People are following the money and they’re starting to push back,” (NOTE: The NRC rejected the last AP1000 design stating that the shield building surrounding the reactor core was unable to withstand the impact of aircraft, hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes.)
Citizens expressed health concerns and a great deal of interest in securing independent monitoring for their area, restoring Dept. of Energy funds to monitor Savannah River Site emissions, and learning how to test for tritium, and other known carcinogens, in their wells, drinking water, and river water. “We have too many cancers in this area,” said Reverend Claude Howard, a resident of Nathaniel Howard Road in Shell Buff.
Reverend Utley concurred and shared Centers for Disease Control statistics that cited a staggering increase in present-day childhood cancers in Burke County since Vogtle reactors 1 & 2 came online in 1987 and 1989, respectively.
Another point of agreement was the lack of a solution to the growing amount of nuclear waste accumulating on site at each of the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants, including Vogtle. Mandy Hancock, High Risk program organizer with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Southern Energy Network, shared her frustration, speaking to residents and organizers much older than her:
“Creating more dangerous radioactive waste that will burden local communities is a travesty,” she said. “Shell Bluff is already suffering from the negative impacts of nuclear power and folks living here are being burdened unfairly. It doesn’t have to be this way – especially when safe, clean energy options exist — energy efficiency and conservation, wind, solar, and bio-energy — that don’t pose these serious risks.” # # # Friends of the Earth Launches TV Ads in GA and SCwww.foe.org/friends-earth-launches-tv-ads-opposing-obama-administration-nuclear-bailoutIntervening groups:
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (www.cleanenergy.org)
Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (www.georgiawand.org)
Savannah Riverkeeper, (www.savannahriverkeeper.org
Center for a Sustainable Coast, (www.sustainablecoast.org)
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (www.bredl.org) Colleagues working to stop nuclear power expansion
Sara Barczak – [email protected]
Lou Zeller – [email protected]
Tom Clements – Friends of the Earth, Columbia SC [email protected]
Karen Grainey – Coastal Group Sierra Club [email protected]
Tonya Bonitatibus – [email protected]
Charles Utley – [email protected]
Mandy Hancock – [email protected] www.climateaction.net
Annie Laura Stephens [email protected]
Dianne Valentin – [email protected]
Glenn Carroll – [email protected]
Amanda Hill-Attkisson – [email protected]
For further information:
Ms. Bobbie Paul
Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) [email protected]
404 524-5999 – work
678 938-2598 – cell GEORGIA WOMEN’S ACTION FOR NEW DIRECTIONS (WAND)
250 Georgia Ave SE Suite 202 Atlanta, Georgia 30312www.georgiawand.org