NRC gets environmental feedback from Crossroads residents

By by Dianna Wray
Dec. 2, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.

Dan McMaster stood in front of the gathered crowd Thursday afternoon, talking to them about the impact a nuclear power plant would have on the place he lives.

McMaster was one of 25 people who spoke at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Environmental Scoping Meeting held at the Victoria Community Center.

"I just want to emphasize that Paradise Ranch has one of the most unique ecosystems I've ever seen ... It has almost every kind of wildlife there is," McMaster said, noting that a nuclear power plant could put that ecosystem in jeopardy.

The NRC held two meetings on Thursday as part of the review process for an Early Site Permit application submitted by Exelon in March.

The meetings were set up to get feedback from the community about any possible environmental concerns, NRC Region 4 public affairs officer Lara Uselding said.

The NRC is the agency in charge of reviewing the application. The two meetings on Thursday looked at possible environmental issues that should be considered when the agency reviews the application.

Exelon originally submitted an application to actually build a nuclear power plant, but withdrew it because of high natural gas prices, said Marilyn Kray, Exelon vice president of nuclear project development.

Now, the company is going through the process of getting an Early Site Permit, to give them the option of building a nuclear power plant in the future.

Lawyer Jim Blackburn, representing Texans for a Sound Energy Policy, spoke at the meeting to voice environmental concerns about the nuclear plant.

"We're against the plant as it is currently planned. The water usage and additional issues that will be discussed at a later time lead us to oppose the plant in it's current form," Blackburn said.

He spoke about the impact water usage would have on communities further down the river.

Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority executive manager James Lee Murphy, Esq. countered Blackburn's statement, noting that the river authority would not support the plant if it hurt the town's water supply.

"There is water available. If there wasn't water available, we wouldn't be pursuing this project," Murphy said.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain, Mayor Will Armstrong urged the commission to approve Exelon's application.

Armstrong said he supported the plant for the impact it would have on the local economy. He said he had confidence that the NRC would make sure the plant was safe.

"There will come a time for nuclear power, and I think the community will embrace that when the time is right," Armstrong said.

More than 60 people attended the afternoon meeting, with about 25 choosing to speak. About 40 people attended the evening session, with 10 opting to address the NRC.

The NRC provided a court reporter to keep a record of the meetings. The official transcript will be included in a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement, expected to be issued in August 2012. The final EIS should be published in August 2013.



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