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Source: The Palladium-Times

Public weighs in on proposed nuke plant


Posted: June 16, 2009
Originally Published: June 15, 2009

Staff of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC), the agency working on the development of the environmental impact statement for the potential creation of a third reactor at the Nine Mile Point nuclear site, appeared in Oswego to hear the opinions of area residents on the proposal.

Members of the community gathered in SUNY Oswego’s Sheldon Hall Ballroom, Wednesday, and the majority of individuals who took the podium to speak to NRC members, spoke in overwhelming favor of the development of a fourth nuclear plant in Oswego County.

Representatives from the offices of Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, and Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, encouraged the creation of the plant, and said the politicians believed it would benefit the local economy tremendously.

“Oswego County has fallen victim to the economic climate,” said Jennifer Cook, from Barclay’s office. “We found that we could develop 400 new jobs and 4,000 temporary jobs because of this project.”

Oswego County Legislator Michael Kunzwiler, D-Oswego, who has been employed as a security supervisor at one of the three currently operating nuclear facilities in the area for 20 years, called the placement of a fourth nuclear reactor in Oswego the “equivalent of winning the lottery.”

“This will create hundreds and hundreds of high-paying jobs,” he said.

Beth Dice Hilton, executive director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce said that in 2008, the current operational nuclear facilities in the county provided a $99.7 million payroll for 900 employees. The creation of a fourth reactor would result in even more economic benefits for workers, she said.

Only one of the 20 speakers on Wednesday spoke out against the proposal, suggesting that the development of unit three should be avoided.

“It is no secret that nuclear power generation comes with huge human and environmental risks,” said Dereth Glance, executive program director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The legacy of toxic waste that persists alone threatens to contaminate our drinking water, land and future generations.”

She encouraged the pursuit of a sustainable approach to energy development.

“Are there wiser investments to generate electricity without the risk and without the legacy of waste?” Glance asked. “The energy world is changing, rapidly. It is anticipated that a new nuclear plant can take between 10-20, or more years before it comes online. What will our nation’s grid look like in 20 years?”

Glance alluded to the disasters that occurred on Three Mile Island in 1979 and again at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukraine in 1986.

“The decisions we make today will have profound impacts on the lives of our children and our children’s children,” she said.

“The current three nuclear plants have operated safely for over 30 years,” said Oswego County Legislator Morris Sorbello, R-Granby. Sorbello also supported the development of a reactor, though he encouraged the NRC to consider the health of fishing in the area as well as the storage of spent fuel rods as needing to be addressed in the development of the environmental impact statement.

“We would expect that Nine Mile Three would be designed and operate in a manner that is as safe as the other three,” he said.

In September, the NRC received an application for a license to build and operate a nuclear power plant at Nine Mile Point Unit Three. The applicants are Nine Mile Point Three Nuclear Project, LLC and Unistar Nuclear Operating Services. The NRC is an independent agency that determines whether it is safe to build and operate nuclear plants.

For a license to be granted for a fourth reactor in the county, a NRC review board must evaluate a design recertification, safety review and environmental review. Currently, the target date for the completion of the review is sometime in 2011. Construction of the plant would not occur until after this point and could take as long as a decade or more to become operational.

Read CCE's comments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Nine Mile 3 Reactor proposal