News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news

Mixed reactions to TVA reactor proposal

By Duncan Mansfield
Associated Press Writer

KNOXVILLE — More than 1,200 people around the country flooded the Tennessee Valley Authority with form letters and personal comments opposing the federal utility's plans for building a second nuclear reactor at the Watts Bar station in Tennessee.

"You must stop this madness!" wrote Toni Garmon of Dawsonville, Ga.

"How can we continue to tell other countries they cannot have nuclear plants while we are opening new ones?" asked Shawn Olsen of Lakewood, Wash.

"They are terribly dangerous, poorly run and are not cost effective," said Jody Wolfe of South Euclid, Ohio.

"To paraphrase a famous line in a movie ... 'We don't need no stinking nuclear plants,' " wrote Frank Hagan of Visalia, Calif.

A handful of letters were more supportive.

"Nuclear energy is needed to provide emission-free power," wrote M.J. Bender of Des Moines, Iowa.

"We desperately need this additional generating capacity for the growth and viability of the TVA region," wrote Mickey Crook of Tennessee.

The 1,229 form letters addressed general concerns about nuclear power, radioactive waste and security as well as some specific worries about raising water temperature in the Tennessee River, which supports Watts Bar's cooling towers some 50 miles south of Knoxville.

160-page response

TVA responded in a 160-page supplemental environmental impact statement to be published Friday in the Federal Register.

"It found that there was no significant environmental impact if TVA decides to complete construction and operate Unit Two at Watts Bar," TVA spokesman John Moulton said Tuesday.

The agency said that drawing water from the Tennessee River should have minimal impact on river temperature and water loss, spent fuel storage onsite should not be a problem, security against terrorists already has been upgraded and there should be no harm to wildlife or habitat.

The one impact noted by the report is increased demand on local government services during the construction project. The report recommends "a supplemental allocation" from TVA's annual in-lieu-of-taxes payments.

The decision to build Watts Bar Two will rest with the TVA board of directors, which will be meeting Aug. 1. A $30 million feasibility study on building the reactor is expected by then. TVA still holds a decades-old construction license on Watts Bar Two.

TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore has been talking for months about the need for a new baseload generator like Watts Bar Two to help TVA keep up with 2 percent annual growth on a power system that serves 8.7 million consumers in Tennessee and six surrounding states.

He estimates TVA could complete the reactor by 2012 for around $2 billion, compared with the nearly $7 billion spent to complete Watts Bar Unit One in 1996 after 23 years of sporadic construction.

Watts Bar One was the last new commercial reactor to come online in the United States.

Meanwhile, the restart last month of TVA's oldest reactor at the Browns Ferry Plant in Alabama after a 22-year shutdown marked the first "new" nuclear generation of the 21st century. President Bush will visit Browns Ferry on Thursday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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