With State Engineer Kent Jones recently authorizing the use of Green River water to cool proposed nuclear reactors in southeast Utah, anxiety is on the rise amongst area residents. But Blue Castle Holdings plans to build a nuclear power plant do not stand unopposed. Local citizens have united to form No Green River Nuke. The group's message is simple: This is not the place.
"It is absolute folly to erect thirsty nuclear reactors in a desert like this," said Barbara Galler, a Moab resident and spokeswoman for No Green River Nuke. "Our buffer against disaster is an unreliable and over-appropriated river. Building a nuclear power plant in Green River is like putting an elementary school at the base of a dam. Technically, you can do it, but is it worth the risk?"
On Jan. 20 the use of 53,600 acre-feet of water was awarded to power plant developer Blue Castle. However, the State of Utah's press release announcing this decision acknowledged, "Approval of the application does not guarantee sufficient water will always be available from the river to operate the plant. Plant design will need to address the possibility of interruptions in water supply."
This is one of many concerns for members of No Green River Nuke.
"This is not the place to generate nuclear power," said Galler. "We don't have abundant water, and our cash-strapped communities don't have the resources to fund the emergency preparedness measures required when you live within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor."
"Plus," she added, "this is world-famous country. With Arches, Canyonlands and our redrock scenery - at best, cooling towers are out of place here. At worst, they pose a threat to thousands of residents and millions of visitors." Acquiring water rights is but one step in a long process to get the nuclear reactors permitted, funded and constructed. The next stage for Blue Castle is a three-year, $100 million licensing process with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Thus, even with water rights in place, No Green River Nuke is preparing for many opportunities to derail the project.
"As far as we're concerned," said Galler, "our work - our fight - has only just begun." No Green River Nuke is a southern Utah-based group of concerned citizens seeking to stop the construction of a nuclear power plant in Green River in order to protect the safety and future of area residents and landscapes.