Thursday, October 25, 2007

Report from North Anna

JoAnn Sperber, NEI's Director of Member Communications, was on the scene in Virginia last night for the latest in a series of meetings concerning the construction of a new nuclear reactor at North Anna. Her report follows:

Virginians Discuss New Plant Plans at North Anna

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission last night held another in a series of meetings detailing the licensing process for new nuclear power plants. This session focused on Dominion Generation’s plan to submit a combined construction and operating license application for a new reactor at its North Anna plant.

After a series of presentations by NRC officials, the 130 people gathered at the meeting asked questions on a range of issues, including water use from Lake Anna, nuclear energy's role in addressing climate change, potential economic benefits of a new reactor, used fuel management and nuclear security.

Although several opposition groups were present, including the People’s Alliance for Clean Energy and Beyond Nuclear, many local residents commented favorably on Dominion’s consideration of adding a third reactor to the plant site. George Lear, a plant neighbor and 30-year veteran of the Navy’s nuclear programs, said, “Nuclear energy is a safe, reliable part of the nation’s energy mix.”

Harry Ruth, president of a local environmental group called Friends of Lake Anna, said, “We want to encourage Dominion to go forward with a new reactor, but to protect the lake in the process.” He called the NRC licensing process “too complicated” and said that overlapping jurisdiction between federal and state authorities made a full understanding of the issues difficult to attain.

Marvin Smith, director of Dominion’s licensing project for the new reactor, said the company expects to submit its license application with the NRC next month. He added that Dominion has not made a decision to build, but “will proceed with the application to preserve the option on building a new nuclear plant.” He also noted that utility officials in the 11-state region that includes Virginia have estimated that homes and business in the area served by Dominion will demand more electricity between now and 2015. To address that demand, energy companies will have to add 4,000 megawatts to the electricity grid. “We are looking at a number of alternatives,” Smith noted. “A new reactor at North Anna would add 1,500 megawatts of electricity.”
UPDATE: Click here for video. And click here for an interview with Dominion Virginia employee and NEI Nuclear Notes contributor, Michael Stuart.

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