Chillicothe Gazette – www.chillicothegazette.com – Chillicothe, OH
Audience told GNEP plan will be ‘good for the world’ By ASHLEY LYKINS
Gazette Staff Writer
A new nuclear plant in Piketon would be “good for the world,” according to officials who spoke at Ohio University-Chillicothe Tuesday night.
Greg Simonton, director of Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative, said the amount of investment and jobs that could be brought with the project – the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership – would be “unprecedented.”
The initiative, part of the Southern Ohio Nuclear Integration Cooperative, conducted its third and last public meeting Tuesday as part of its detailed siting study.
The group was one of 11 sites awarded a grant to do the study, which will determine the appropriateness of Piketon to host a GNEP facility.
If it’s chosen as the site, nuclear waste would be transported to the area to be recycled and reprocessed through two possible facilities.
The advanced nuclear fuel recycling center would separate the used nuclear fuel into its reusable and waste components, and the advanced recycling reactor would obliterate radioactive aspects of the used fuel while generating electricity.
SONIC maintains this process would reduce permanent nuclear waste and prevent proliferation because nuclear-capable countries, such as the U.S. and France, would provide reprocessing services to other countries that agree not to pursue their own programs.
“The risk that this is an unsafe operation is just not there, period,” said Dan Moore, president of SONIC, referring to some residents’ concerns regarding dangers of the project.
The meeting involved presentations by SONIC, with a question-and-answer segment following. Members of the panel answered questions submitted on note cards.
“I think (the meetings are) not for public participation,” said Vina Colley, of Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security. “People want to believe them because they want jobs … People don’t have the whole story.”
Moore said a comparable 2-mile-long reprocessing plant built in La Hague, France, created jobs for 6,000 people and cost $15 billion. SONIC visited the facility, and persuaded “my mind that this can be done safely,” he said.
Ross County Commissioner Frank Hirsch agreed, noting the recycling of nuclear fuel is like recycling other things.
“This is like recycling your cans or newspapers or tires,” he said, expressing his support for the project.
Two Chillicothe residents who attended Tuesday night’s meeting said they are still learning about the project’s process.
“It’s definitely interesting,” said Justice Gray. “A few things piqued our curiosity.”
Teresa Gray said the jobs would be beneficial.
“My biggest thing is it seems like it will create jobs,” she said. “It looks like it will be a good thing.”
In response to some concerns of whether spent nuclear fuel would be shipped to Piketon and stored permanently, Moore said the site would be “inappropriate” for long-term storage.
It has “none of the characteristics that you’d want,” he said.
Furthermore, Tom Anderson, senior environmental project manager, said by the time a GNEP facility would be built, a Yucca Mountain facility out west would be open to accept waste storage.
Joni Fearing, of Portsmouth, however, said she agreed with Colley.
“I don’t think the process is fair,” she said of the lack of public dialogue at the meeting. “I don’t think we’re getting the whole story. This is a global issue.”
Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer, who addressed the group of about 30 attendees, said in many instances, the public doesn’t get the opportunity to play a part in a company’s moving to the area and providing jobs.
“This process has been open, and it’s been open for a reason,” he said. “I want the jobs. I want the economic development.”
Information contained in SONIC’s study, which is due May 31, might be used in the Department of Energy’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. The statement will evaluate and analyze both alternatives to the nuclear waste recycling and impacts the facilities could have on the environment.
The public is welcome to provide comments for the statement. The comment period was recently extended to June 4. Submissions can be made to Timothy A. Frazier, GNEP PEIS Document Manager, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave., SW, Washington DC 20585. Comments also can be made via phone at (866) 645-7803, fax at (866) 645-7807 or e-mail at GNEP-PEIS@nuclear.energy.gov.
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