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Still Fighting the Power



Katharine Biele’s article “Power Mad: How Sen. Bob Bennett Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Power Plants” [Oct. 8, City Weekly] contains an important factual error. The article states: “Emery County—Green River, specifically—is the chosen site for a future nuclear power plant touted by former Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, whose holding company, Blue Castle (, owns and wants to develop the site.”

It is not true that Blue Castle Holdings Inc. (BCH) “owns” the site in Green River where it wants to site a nuclear reactor. I don’t know if the author got the ownership information directly from BCH or from the untruthful statements in the Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, 2009, press releases posted on the BCH Website.

BHC (previously known as Transition Power Development LLC) has not purchased the site just north of Interstate 70, a few miles west of Green River, which Emery County has leased from the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), nor does it have an option to purchase the site. The ownership situation could have been easily verified by asking Mike McCandless, director of economic development for Emery County, who was interviewed for the article or by contacting SITLA.

The article should have asked why Tilton and his company are lying to the public, the press and potential investors about their ownership of the site?

Further on in the article, McCandless says that HEAL Utah are about the only “naysayers,” except for maybe Moab’s Uranium Watch, which he dismisses as just one person: “Sarah Fields.”

Well, there are certainly a lot of other folks who have expressed concerns about the proposed nuclear reactor, whether they can be called “naysayers” or not. These concerns are being voiced in protests to the Utah Division of Water Rights on the withdrawal of water from the Green River for the project.

A total of 53,600 acre-feet of water for the project has been leased from the Kane County and San Juan County water conservancy districts. The change applications submitted by the districts ask that the water be withdrawn from the Green River, rather than the Colorado and San Juan rivers A number of individuals, organizations and government agencies have submitted objections to the water transfers.

These include Green River farmers and ranchers; a Green River expedition company; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Uintah County Water Conservancy District; Bureau of Reclamation; Center for Biological Diversity; Living Rivers; Sierra Club; Red Rock Forests; Utah Rivers Council; in addition to HEAL Utah and Uranium Watch. A hearing will be held on the water-rights change applications sometime in the future—spring of 2010 at the earliest. To read about the protests and for further information, visit TransitionPower.htm There are concerns about the reactor’s impacts to the health and well-being of the people and economy of the area,;the availability of water from the Upper Colorado River Basin; impacts to endangered fish species; the reactor’s physical and economic feasibility; and the financial resources of BCH and the entity that will complete the project.

It appears that BCH does not intend to actually construct and operate a nuclear reactor, but intends to obtain various assets (including water), a Nuclear Regulatory Commission early site permit and possibly other licenses and permits, then sell its accumulated assets to someone else.

So, the plan is to have another entity actually construct and operate the reactor. Things are still a bit vague, and Aaron Tilton and company have never had the decency to come to Emery, Carbon and Grand counties to hold a public meetings to explain their intentions to the local communities.

The counties would be involved because they would be within a 10-mile radius of the plume exposure pathway and/or within the 50-mile radius of the ingestion pathway. Therefore, emergency planning for the reactor would have to involve the counties, the State of Utah, and the Department of Energy (due to the removal of 16-million tons of uranium mill tailings from Moab to Crescent Junction).

Sarah Fields
Uranium Watch program director