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Nuclear Supporters Outnumber Antis at Georgia Meeting

There was an NRC public meeting last week in Waynesboro, Georgia to gather comments regarding Southern Nuclear’s proposed expansion of Plant Vogtle. Articles in the Savannah Morning News and the Augusta Chronicle (registration required but it’s free) had different reports for the number of attendees, but both noted that nuclear supporters greatly outnumbered antinuclear activists. The Savannah article said:
The majority of Burke County residents spoke in favor of expansion, including resolutions of support for the Waynesboro City Council and the Burke County Commission.
Mal McKibben of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness said
This is important…because a key factor in the NRC's decision-making is how much support local leaders give to nuclear projects. If pro-nuclear folks don't show up, the field is left to well-organized and highly vocal anti-nuclear groups that come from all over the Southeast.
Local NA-YGN members were also at the meeting and report that the speakers were split half in favor and half opposed. DeLisa Pournaras, the chair of the local section, spoke on behalf of the organization and discussed the safety record and environmental and economic benefits of nuclear power plants. She wrote to me
I think the meeting went very well. There was overwhelming local support present of course, and we counted about 8…NA-YGN members at the meeting. There were about 150 people there total, and 50 gave comments, including several local leaders. Even though the majority of the people there were there to support Vogtle, we counted 25 anti-nuclear speakers from 7 or 8 activist groups, and they had the floor for about 1.5 hrs straight. Anti-nuclear groups present: Women's Actions for New Direction, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, The Sierra Club, Nuclear Information Resource Service, Georgians Against Nuclear Energy, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Southern Alliance For Clean Energy. There were also a few other's that I didn't recognize.

Groups in support: Local citizens and Plant Vogtle neighbors, local leaders, Burke Co. School System, Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness, Women in Nuclear, NA-YGN, and others.

We counted the same number of speakers (25) in support of Vogtle expansion and they had the floor for 2.25 hrs. In my opinion, that wasn't enough time. I'm glad that I was able to speak for NAYGN, but in retrospect, I think we should have had several other NAYGN members get up to speak their support as well. There were several circumstances that prevented others from speaking…but this was one of only a few chances to voice our support for the Vogtle expansion. From what I understand, the next public meeting will be held in July 2007 to discuss the NRC's investigation results.

...It's important that we continue to gather support for the next meeting, so that we will have a larger presence in July. I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting, and would encourage as many of us as possible to participate in future public meetings of this sort.
Another NA-YGN member, Amy Marshall, wrote
I feel the meeting was very informative in learning about the tactics of the anti-nuclear groups. I had no idea they are arguing that nuclear power is much more expensive in the long run compared to other sources of energy, even compared to coal fired generating plants, and that nuclear power produces extreme amounts of harmful waste.

I was also surprised to learn…there were groups publishing information that the new reactors "will require tens of millions of gallons of water above and beyond the tens of millions Vogtle is already pulling from the Savannah River." That statement leads one to believe that nuclear power plants use up all of this water and do not return any of it back to the river, nor does the statement describe the timeframe over which tens of millions of gallons are taken from the river. The anti-nuclear groups are making statements to validate their cause but their statements are neither accurate nor complete.

I learned a lot at the meeting, and it has motivated me to stay more aware and involved in the future of the nuclear industry.
Amy, you’re not the first person to be shocked by the blatant lies and propaganda that some antinuclear activists spew. And I’ve found that nothing spurs nuclear supporters to action more than hearing for themselves the rubbish that is being spread.

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