The ink was barely dry on Luminant Energy’s application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to add two 1,700 megawatt reactors at its Comanche Peak nuclear power plant in Glen Rose when environmentalists across the state began organizing to stop the expansion.
That resistance has taken the form of a lawsuit that will soon be filed against the company by a number of public-interest groups spearheaded by the Austin-based SEED Coalition, (Sustainable Energy and Economic Development), according to SEED executive director Karen Hadden.
“These reactors will cost up to $22 billion, according to Luminant’s own data, and would lead to enormous rate hikes, create more radioactive waste and more security risks, and hamper our ability to move toward energy efficiency and renewable energy now, which we must do to save the planet,” Hadden said.
The lead plaintiff in the suit will be Fort Worth legislator Lon Burnam, a long-time environmental activist and one of a small group of Cowtowners who fought the licensing of the first two reactors at the plant more than 20 years ago. (That group also filed a lawsuit; it wound up at the Supreme Court, where it died.) Burnam is named since his home is within 40 miles of the plant, close enough to be affected by any nuclear accident or radioactive releases.
“I never thought I’d be doing this again,” said the District 90 state rep. A strong proponent of renewable energy sources, Burnam said that $22 billion should be spent on wind and solar power and conservation efforts. “This is an outrage. It’s the wrong way to solve the energy crisis, no matter how much Luminant touts nukes as safe and nonpolluting,” he said. “They won’t talk about the elephant in the room, the radioactive waste that’ll be around for a few million years. … All the high-level waste from the past 16 years of this plant’s operation is still stored there, on site, and still no place to put it. Now Luminant wants to more than double this dangerous load of poison that is already an environmental time bomb.”
Luminant didn’t return Static’s calls seeking comment.
Ike Rolls On
The Austin Chronicle picked up the Weekly’s story about the hurricane that devastated Galveston last September (“Ike: A Tale of Two Storms,” Nov. 5, 2008). In December, the Austin alt-weekly ran a shorter version of Tom Curtis’ powerful piece explaining how the damage from the huge storm could have been greatly lessened had Galveston leaders agreed to build new levees and institute development controls that have been recommended to them for decades. Of course, we got the idea for the story from Curtis’ earlier piece in the Texas Observer. The destruction in Galveston and several mainland communities is fading from the general public memory far too quickly – and getting way too little federal attention as well. Static would be happy if the sky rained Ike stories for months to come.