Fresno Mayor Wants to Build Nuclear Power Plant in My Backyard

Fresno Mayor Wants to Build Nuclear Power Plant in My Backyard : Indybay

Fresno Mayor Wants to Build Nuclear Power Plant in My Backyard
by Mike Rhodes ( mikerhodes [at] )
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 7:48 PM There is a proposal to build a nuclear power plant in Fresno. The mayor of Fresno suggested that my backyard might be a good location to build this 1,600 megawatt reactor. Read more below.


Fresno Mayor Wants to Build Nuclear Power Plant in My Backyard
By Mike Rhodes

A proposal to build a nuclear power plant, next to the waste water treatment facility west of downtown Fresno, has been proposed by a group of businessmen in Fresno. Alan Autry, the mayor of Fresno, supports the proposal saying that it will reduce electricity costs by two thirds and bring thousands of jobs to Fresno.

The proposal to build a 1,600-megawatt nuclear reactor is estimated to cost $4 billion. In an exchange earlier this month (see ) with the mayor, I wrote “Mayor, there was a proposal made last week to the Fresno City Council to build a nuclear power plant in Fresno. Do you think this proposal should be seriously considered? Do you support building a nuclear power facility in this community? If you support the idea of a nuclear power plant, do you think it should be located near the bluffs in north Fresno or on the Westside?”

Mayor Autry replied: “Mike, I believe nuclear power holds great promise for the entire San Joaquin Valley. We must find a way to become energy self-sufficient. High energy costs are crippling households throughout the Valley. The nuclear power plant being discussed is very small. The size being discussed, which is small enough to operate a nuclear submarine, could provide enough power for the entire city of Fresno. As for the Bluffs or Westside, it makes no difference to me since it is the safest source of energy around. Mike, by the way, how big is your back yard?”

According to Wikipedia ( ) a 1,600 MW nuclear power plant, if built today, would be the largest plant in the world. The mayor wants to put that plant in my backyard????!!!!????

If a nuclear plant does get built in Fresno it will produce a waste material that will have to be stored for thousands of years. The problem of nuclear waste storage is so serious that there is a moratorium banning the building of nuclear power plants in California until there is a solution to how to dispose of the spent fuel. Out of six nuclear power plants in California, four have been decommissioned because of high operating costs and safety concerns.

The Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC, which consists of several local businessmen (with no experience in the nuclear industry), wants to build this plant far away from the upscale neighborhoods of north Fresno. The poor residents of west Fresno will be the beneficiaries of all the gifts the nuclear industry has to offer.

One gift that is sure to please neighbors of this power plant is the constant threat of a nuclear disaster. Remember Chernobyl and Three Mile Island? The radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster resulted in the evacuation of 336,000 people and the contamination of all nearby farmland. A similar disaster here would end agricultural production in this valley for centuries.

The group proposing to build this nuclear power plant has no intention of paying for it themselves. They want to rely on massive government subsidies to finance this project. So much for the free market system. If nuclear energy is such a good idea, why aren’t Wall Street investors lining up to underwrite the endeavor? The answer is simple – because they know you can pour billions of dollars into one of these power plants and in less than a day it could all melt down. Not only that, they could be on the hook for billions of dollars in clean up expenses. That is why private industry will not finance this dinosaur. The group that is promoting nuclear energy in Fresno wants you and me to take on the financial liability of their project, the risk of turning the Central Valley into a wasteland, and the death of our families, so they can become wealthy. That does not sound like a fair trade to me.

This proposed nuclear power plant will never be built in Fresno. What will happen if Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC got a green light to move forward on this project is that millions of our tax dollars will be given to these larger than life welfare recipients who feed at the public trough. In the end, no nuclear power plant would be built, but those involved will have received huge salaries and bonuses, paid for by you and me. It is enough to make a pirate blush.

What can we do about this outrageous proposal that has the potential to destroy our valley, enrich a couple of corporate kingpins, and throw our tax dollars down a rat hole? We must speak out against this boondoggle. We also need to present the alternative, because there is truth to the argument that we need to reduce global warming and provide for the energy needs of the future. The alternative to nuclear is obvious – we need to develop solar, wind and other alternative sources of energy. Fresno’s political leadership needs to focus on urban planning that restricts urban sprawl, supports public transportation, and facilitates the creation of alternative energy initiatives. In addition, each of us has the responsibility to do our part by conserving energy, creating a more green friendly environment, and electing politicians that share this vision.

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