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Posts Tagged ‘Victoria’

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review the Exelon Nuclear Texas Holdings Early Site Permit (ESP) application for the Victoria County site near Victoria, Texas.

The application and associated information were initially submitted on March 25 and is available, minus proprietary and security-related details, on the NRC Web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/esp/victoria.html.

Exelon’s application seeks approval for safety and environmental issues for the site, approximately 13 miles south of Victoria.  If approved by the NRC this would give Exelon three to 20 years to decide whether to build a plant in Victoria County. It can be extended for another 20 years, giving the company up to 40 years to begin construction from the time that the NRC approves the permit.

Now the site permit application will undergo a three- to four-year review process by the NRC in which it will evaluate the project’s environmental impact and safety preparedness.

Water use figures prominently into the concerns of many. The Guadalupe River is the designated water source for the possible power plant, and Exelon has a water reservation agreement with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) that expires in 2013. (more…)

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Exelon Nuclear plans to file a 6,000-plus-page document that would give it as many as 40 years to begin work on a power plant in Victoria.

Exelon has looked at building a plant in this area of Texas since 2007. It plans to file an early site permit application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on  March 25, 2010.  This will allow them to keep their options open as the permit, if approved by the NRC, would give Exelon three to 20 years to decide whether to build a plant in Victoria County. It can be extended for another 20 years, giving the company up to 40 years to begin construction from the time that the NRC approves the permit.

Once the early site permit application is submitted, it undergoes a three- to four-year review process by the NRC in which it will evaluate the project’s environmental impact and safety preparedness.

The NRC will conduct a public meeting April 15 at the Victoria Community Center to explain what the review process entails.

Water use figures prominently into the concerns of many. The Guadalupe River is the designated water source for the possible power plant, and Exelon has a water reservation agreement with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) that expires in 2013.

In the agreement with the GBRA, Exelon reserved 75,000 acre-feet of water every year.  The plant’s water use supercedes that of other water users, including the city of Victoria and farmers in the region.

We strongly urge the public to attend this meeting.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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AUSTIN – Public Citizen Texas will be honoring the recipients of this year’s Texas Outstanding Public Service (TOPS) Awards at the organization’s 25th anniversary dinner today. The awardees are local visionaries, recognized experts and celebrated advocates who have aided in the effort to help Texas realize a more environmentally conscious and sustainable energy future.

Those receiving the TOPS Awards were chosen by Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen Texas, and his staff based on their accomplishments and contributions to the overall health, safety and democracy of all Texans. This year’s lineup of winners includes two journalists, three legislators, two activists, a whistleblower, a legislative aid and a man whose lifetime of achievement merits the finest award of all.

Winners of this year’s awards include Roger Duncan, general manager of Austin Energy, Austin American-Statesman reporter Claudia Grisales, San Antonio Current reporter Greg Harman, state Reps. Dave Swinford and Rafael Anchia, citizen activists Gerry Sansing and Dr. Wes Stafford, state Sen. Wendy Davis, whistleblower Glenn Lewis and state legislative staffer Doug Lewin.

Duncan will receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Duncan is a true visionary who has not only blueprinted the greening of the Austin City Council but also of the city’s public utility. He successfully transformed Austin Energy and set standards for the rest of the nation. He has been a major player in the fight for green issues for more than three decades – starting with his journey as a student activist in the 1970s, serving two terms as a member of the Austin City Council in the 1980s and eventually leading the city’s environmental department for nine years as the assistant director. Duncan is considered the architect of several of Austin’s nationally acclaimed energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including GreenChoice and the Green Building Program. Furthermore, under Duncan’s leadership, Austin Energy adopted ambitious goals to bring more solar energy to Austin, committing to the development of major solar generating capacity. Duncan was also one of a few people to realize early on that the city of Austin had the potential to reduce urban air pollution by using plug-in hybrids. He assembled a coalition of potential buyers of plug-ins in the country and implemented a program at Austin Energy that offered an incentive package for such hybrids. Although he has announced his planned retirement for next year, it will not be surprising to see him in some sort of leadership role in the city in the near future.

In a quote from Duncan published in the Austin Chronicle last month, he said, “Today, it is time for me to return to my original role as an involved citizen of Austin.” Public Citizen Texas welcomes him as such (more…)

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Texas only State in Nation with such a Deadly, Costly Coal Rush Advancing

(Austin) Attorneys for Sierra Club and a Goliad and Victoria county-based group, Citizens for a Clean Environment, plus Environmental Defense Fund began arguments today against one of a large number of proposed new coal plants that are in various stages of the permitting, appeal, or construction process in Texas.

“Nowhere else in the United States are citizens facing such serious public health and financial risks as we are facing in Texas because of the large number of proposed new coal plants,” said Eva Hernandez with Sierra Club.

“Texas is also the only state in the nation where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to reject the state agency’s air permitting regime. We are asking the EPA to take action and place a moratorium on new coal plant permits until the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) follows the law of the Clean Air Act.”

The Sierra Club is challenging five coal plant permit applications this Fall and Winter in Texas:

• NRG Limestone near Jewett east of Waco
• IPA Coleto Creek between Goliad and Victoria
• Tenaska in Sweetwater west of Abilene
• Las Brisas in Corpus Christi
• White Stallion near Bay City south of Houston

Today, attorneys for the Goliad and Victoria Counties-based Citizens for a Clean Environment, Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund are protesting the coal plant permit application of IPA Coleto Creek at the State Office of Administrative Hearings in Austin. The company is asking the TCEQ for a permit to expand an existing coal plant by a second unit. This week’s contested case hearing will consider proposed air emissions, while Sierra Club and the Citizens for a Clean Environment also have concerns about water usage and water quality.

“The existing coal plant at Coleto Creek has been dumping pollution and toxins on local residents for years, harming their health and property, using huge amounts of water. The Citizens for a Clean Economy are now rightly standing up to ensure that this destruction and injustice does not continue,” said Ryan Rittenhouse with Public Citizen Texas. “If this expansion is allowed, the environmental damage, health impacts, and lowered property values in the community will increase significantly. TCEQ can’t let that happen.”

Background Information

At a preliminary hearing in Sweetwater, Texas tomorrow, Sierra Club and the Multi-County Coalition a citizens group from Nolan and surrounding counties will request standing to challenge the Tenaska coal permit application.

Other upcoming hearings in what environmentalists consider the ‘second wave’ of the Texas coal rush are: Las Brisas coke plant contested case hearing, November 2 in Corpus Christi; NRG Limestone, TCEQ Commissioners Hearing and decision in Austin, November 18.

The Las Brisas contested case hearing on November 2nd is expected to be heavily attended due to extensive opposition to the permit from the Coastal Bend area Clean Economy Coalition, Sierra Club, and Public Citizen. The proposed urban coke plant would emit more air pollution than all of the existing gas refineries in Corpus Christi.

The TCEQ Commissioners decision on NRG Limestone on November 18th could signal the start of construction of this proposed coal plant in a region surrounding Waco with two new coal plants already under construction – Sandy Creek in Riesel and Oak Grove in Franklin.

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Power companies’ plans to pursue new nuclear projects are damaging their credit ratings, which may mean higher costs will be shifted onto ratepayers. In a new report by Moody’s Investors Service titled “New Nuclear Generation: Ratings Pressure Increasing”, the firm raises concerns about investing in new nuclear plants with great risks and capitol costs at a time when national energy policy is uncertain.

Of the 17 proposed reactor projects Moody’s analyzed, two already have obligations rated as speculative or “junk”, and both are in Texas: NRG’s South Texas Project (“questionable credit quality”) and Energy Future Holding’s Comanche Peak (“generally poor credit quality”).

Exelon’s proposed two unit reactor in Victoria was rated as one step above junk status (between Baa1 and Baa3).

“If these guys are already having trouble with their credit ratings, why should Texans mortgage their future building new plants that even the builders can’t finance?,” asks Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office.

Good question.

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water header

I’ve been thinking (and worrying) about water a lot lately.  I suppose that the drought has brought all this concern along.  Just a few months ago, folks were comparing this drought to the one that devastated Texas agriculture in the ’50s (when crop yields dropped by as much as 50%, all but one county in Texas was declared a federal drought disaster area, and grasslands were scorched and ranchers that couldn’t afford high hay prices resorted to a mixture of prickly pear cactus and molasses), but now folks are saying that this drought is well on its way to being worse, and certainly more costly, than any other dry spell in Texas history.

We’re already seeing ranching and agriculture suffer substantially from this drought.  Agricultural officials are now pinning crop and livestock losses at $3.6 billion.  Just 12% of the cotton acreage planted this year will be harvested, and many gins won’t open up this season because there isn’t enought work to justify it.  Ranchers are also buying high priced hay and feed supplements because their own pastures haven’t produced enough to feed their herds.  Ranchers are selling off calves younger and thinner than usual, and even letting go of the mature females that sustain their herds.  In the last week, Bastrop County alone lost 12,000 cattle from the drought.  As Roy Wheeler, an Atascosa County rancher told the San Antonio Express-News, “We’re selling the factory, so they say.”

So why worry about the weather,  you may ask.  Haven’t farmers and ranchers been scraping by and beaten by the weather since the first man stuck a seed in the ground?  Perhaps, but during the dust bowl and in this last great drought in the ’50s, we could still shake our fists at the sky and vow never to go hungry again — but now we can only shake our fists at ourselves.  There’s not a doubt in my mind that this drought is a result of human interference.  I’m no scientist, just an educated girl with a blog, but I’d bet the farm that we’re seeing global warming in action.

But you don’t have take my word for it.  Take the word of Dr. Gerald North, a climate scientist at that notorious liberal holdout Texas A&M, who says that this drought is the beginning of a permanent trend for Texas.  He cites the 2007 IPCC report, which shows trends toward hotter and drier summers.  In reference to this weather pattern, North told the Environment News Service that, “It could be just a fluke that persists for a decade… But my guess is that it’s here to stay, but with fluctuations up and down.”

Of course we can’t point at any one weather event and say that it is a direct result of global warming, but we can take events as indicative of what is to come as global warming progresses.  Just as Hurricane Katrina woke up the world to the devastation that will ensue as storms of increase in frequency and severity from climate change, this current drought can give Texans a hint of what the future of Texas weather will look like.

There’s a terrible element of irony here.  Our current trajectory of unsustainable growth and energy consumption increase the likelihood that drought in Texas will become the new norm.  AND those same industries and energy sources which have poisoned our atmosphere and raised global temperatures… use enormous amounts of water.  Coal, natural gas, and nuclear — which propents are trying to sell as “the low-carbon cure we need” — are incredibly, enormously, despicably water intensive. (more…)

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Two of the 12 newly proposed coal plants in Texas recently had preliminary hearings for their waste water permits: “Oak Grove” in Robertson County and “Coleto Creek” west of Victoria. In both cases the local groups opposed to the plants got “standing” (meaning they can participate in the actual contested case hearings which will be held near the end of the year). Robertson County Our Land, Our Lives is the local group opposing the Oak Grove plant, and Citizens for a Clean Environment is the group opposed to the Coleto Creek power plant.

Both of these groups received standing due to the fact that they had members who lived extremely close to the plant site, and bordered the water outfall from the plant. In the Oak Grove case, a local ranch (The Rolke Ranch) was denied standing even though the outfall creek ran through about 4 miles of their property. They were denied because they lived more than just a few miles away from the plant – it was estimated they were a little less than 10 miles away.

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This Tuesday citizens submitted a filing to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission opposing NRG’s proposed South Texas Project (STP) nuclear reactors. Petitioners included the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Public Citizen and the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy.

This may sound familiar.  “Didn’t citizens just file opposition to the nuke a couple weeks ago?”  Well, yes they did, but that wasn’t “the” nuke, it was just one of them.  Texas actually has six proposed nuclear reactors; two each at Comanche Peak (near Fort Worth),  STP (by Bay City), and Victoria.

That’s right, folks, six proposed nuclear plants and 12 proposed coal plants, despite the fact that just yesterday the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that no new nuclear or coal plants may be needed in the United States, ever.

Said Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the SEED Coalition,

Our contentions laid out the many defects in the South Texas Project license application, including inadequate fire protection, the lack of viable radioactive waste disposal plan, an inability to secure against airplane attacks, vast water consumption, water contamination risks, the failure to analyze clean, safe alternatives and an array of other financial, health and safety risks.

Furthermore, STP has failed to provide cost estimates for their proposed reactors, leaving citizens with no idea of the expense they’ll be buying in to — despite the fact that one of the major partners, CPS Energy in San Antonio, is a municipal utility.

I know that when I walk in to a store and everything looks really nice but there are no price tags — I probably don’t even want to ask. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rates nuclear power as the most expensive form of electric generation. An analysis by Dr. Arjun Makhijani has estimated costs for the two reactors at between $12.5 – $17 billion.

Check out the press release for more information.

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If you live in the Waco, Sweetwater, Corpus Christi, or Victoria area, you may have seen this op-ed run in your local newspaper under a variety of titles such as “Stop the Dirty Dozen”, “New generation of grandfathered polluters?”, and “Don’t create another generation of grandfathered power plants.” If not, you should give it a read.

smitty-mug2In the early 1970s, when it looked like the passage of the federal Clean Air Act was inevitable, power companies in Texas went on a building boom to construct 12 dirty, old-technology power plants before legislation went into effect. It was more than 30 years before the Texas Legislature addressed pollution from these “grandfathered” plants. Today, just as Congress and the Obama administration are poised to pass a series of tougher air pollution laws and cap global warming gasses, a dozen applications for additional coal fired power plants in Texas have been permitted or are pending. If built, this dirty dozen of coal plants would add an astounding 77 million tons a year of global warming gases to our already overheated air, 55,000 tons of acid rain forming gases, 29,000 tons of ozone forming chemicals and 3,800 lbs of brain damaging mercury. Your call to your state senator this week can help stop another generation of coal plants from being built.

Two years ago, 19 new coal plants were proposed for the state of Texas. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief when TXU withdrew applications for eight of those plants. But other companies are still building their proposed plants, and the cumulative impacts will make it harder to breathe in the DFW, Houston, Tyler- Longview, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Victoria and Corpus Christi areas. Seven of the plants have already been permitted, but five more are still in the permitting stages and can be more easily stopped.

Sen. Kip Averitt took a strong stand on this issue by adding a provision in his aggressive air qualtity bill, SB 16, to require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to look at the cumulative impacts of any proposed new plant along with any others that have already been permitted or are being proposed. This amendment would have gone a long way to protect our air and climate.

Unfortunately the electric companies out-lobbied him and took a red pen to that provision of the bill. What’s left is too little and too late. (more…)

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NRC Night at the Dome

Never been built

General Electric's ESBWR: Not ready for prime time

Turnout was high at the NRC’s public meeting in Victoria on Thursday about the future of nuclear power in the area. Tara Bozick of the Victoria Advocate estimated 400 people showed up. There was so much going on it might warrant a second post.

The NRC attempted to quell concerns about the fact that Exelon plans to build the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR), despite the fact that they have not yet certified it. In fact, the application for design certification was filed in 2005. Who knows when or if it will be certified, but Exelon’s application to build two of them in Victoria County puts added pressure on the NRC to approve the design.

It was publicly stated by the NRC last night that the ESBWR has never been built before. Why they would consider a combined operating license (COL) at the same time as they are reviewing revisions to the reactor design application is perplexing to say the least. So much for a streamlined process.

Matt

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