Chillicothe Gazette – www.chillicothegazette.com – Chillicothe, OH
Famous activist Brockovich signs petition against GNEP in Piketon
By ASHLEY LYKINS
Gazette Staff Writer
PIKETON -While the Southern Ohio Neighbors Group usually only allows residents in and around southern Ohio to sign its petition to prevent a nuclear facility from being built in Pike County, it made an notable exception last week.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich signed the petition to prevent the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership from materializing in Piketon, writing, “Neighbors helping neighbors: Be protective of public health and safety” next to her signature.
Brockovich came into the national spotlight after her legal battle with Pacific Gas & Electric on behalf of residents of Hinkley, Calif., over contaminated drinking water was turned into a feature film starring Julia Roberts in the title role.
Her signature marked the document’s 2,000th, said SONG co-founder Geoffrey Sea. The group has been “fighting plans to locate a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel” since August 2006, he wrote in a news release.
If the nuclear partnership lands in Piketon, two possible facilities could be built, including an advanced nuclear fuel recycling center, which would separate used nuclear fuel into its reusable and waste components. The other building would be an advanced recycling reactor, which would demolish radioactive aspects of the used fuel while generating electricity.
Sea doesn’t see the facilities in that light.
“If it looks like a dump, and it quacks like a dump, it’s a dump,” said Sea in a news release.
A public meeting that will feature Victoria Wulsin, candidate for Ohio’s second congressional district, has been slated by SONG for 6 to 9 p.m. today at the Flohr Auditorium in Shawnee State University’s library.
Another meeting about the issue, organized by the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network of Athens, will be conducted in Athens City Council’s chambers from 7 to 9 p.m. May 24.
The forums follow three gatherings conducted by the Southern Ohio Nuclear Integration Cooperative in the past few months. The cooperative has been striving to bring the partnership to southern Ohio. It was awarded a grant to conduct a study that will determine the location’s suitability for the nuclear facilities.
While some members of SONG attended one or two of the cooperative’s meetings, SONIC’s members won’t be returning the favor.
“We never said we wanted a dump,” said Greg Simonton, SONIC’s vice president, adding the Nuclear Waste Storage Prohibition Act -introduced Friday by lawmakers -will support the group’s ambitions. “I think that goes a long way. It speaks to the fact that we want something safe.”
The act, which states no GNEP funds may be used for the creation of a permanent storage facility for nuclear waste and no waste can be stored long-term at reprocessing states, was sponsored by a bipartisan group that includes Jean Schmidt, Zack Space and Charlie Wilson.
However, Sea isn’t convinced.
“No one has any idea if or when this bill would pass. It is one of the many thousands of bills that are proposed to accomplish a political purpose,” he wrote in an e-mail, noting its purpose is to “salvage” Schmidt’s chances of re-election.
The Department of Energy will release its decision for where to locate the GNEP facilities in summer 2008.