The presentation was slick, as was Tilton; very few facts or applicable research were presented. Council members asked astute questions and then Chris Baird opened the session to the public for comment.
Although I was present at the hearing, I have just now listened to a recording of the portion of the meeting when Moab citizens questioned Tilton about his plan and also made comments. Listening to this recording brought back to me the breadth of knowledge, the range of information, and the passion of our friends and neighbors about the notion of a nuclear power plant near the Green River and, thereby, near the Colorado River and near Moab. It was a long meeting, giving everyone a chance to be heard, and there was not one person who spoke supporting Tilton’s proposal.
Responses ranged from the notion that a nuclear plant near Green River was simply disastrous to specifics such as “what about the water?” We live in a desert and our water makes life for us and other denizens of this wild place possible. Some were concerned about the unknown dangers of a nearby nuclear plant. Some were worried about the necessity of supplying emergency preparedness, which would fall largely on Moab. Some were worried about the influx of men to build the plant in terms of temporary housing and negative impacts on communities. Some were worried about the impact on the environment and endangered species as well as the danger to tourism. Some women who carried viable eggs were concerned about the future of their unborn children. In his responses to the questions and comments, Tilton often began his sentences with, “We believe.” Two people were so upset by Tilton’s responses that they had to leave the meeting – one woman in tears, one man in anger.
As happens, things blew over and not a lot was heard about this matter until recently, when the Utah State Engineer authorized Blue Castle to utilize 53,600 acre-feet of water from the Green River for the proposed reactor. Although this is the first step in a long licensing process, it is the only one that is under the control of the State of Utah. Almost immediately thereafter it was reported in the Salt Lake Tribune that LeadDog – a hedge fund that, according to Tilton’s application to the engineer, was supplying $30 million toward the project – was being investigated by the SEC and that those funds would not be available. Tilton has not yet explained what will replace it.
In addition, USDA has designated the Moab area as in the first stage of drought. The Green River area is in stage two, and since the drought is moving from west to east, we should all be in greater drought later than we are now. Besides that, many believe that climate change is upon us, which will only exacerbate the situation.
So now, Blue Castle and the proposed nuclear plant is back on everyone’s radar. The passion shown in October has been reignited. Although at the public hearing there was no one who spoke in favor of the proposal to build a nuclear plant near Moab, we are aware that there are those who support the idea. Their concerns are certainly legitimate, and we need to take them into consideration as we move forward and work toward possible solutions.
What about those who believe it is a good idea but who would just sit back and say, “It will never happen.” Can we take that risk? Those of us who have formed No Green River Nuke don’t think so. We believe that we must do everything possible to make sure this particular plant is never built. Although we are working in concert with area nonprofits that share our goals, our mission is self-directed, and it is simple: No Green River nuke – this is not the place.
Jen Jackson, Craig Cain, Laurel Hagen, and myself form the core of those concerned southern Utah citizens seeking to stop the construction of a nuclear power plant in Green River. We do this in order to protect the safety and future of area residents and landscapes. But it will take the entire southern Utah community to work together to make sure that a nuclear plant is never built in our beloved area, an area which is physically magnificent and where the people match the landscape. To learn more, go to www.nogreenrivernuke.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbara Galler is a co-founder of the organization No Green River Nuke. She lives in Moab, Utah.