Posts Tagged ‘lower colorado river authority’

According to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), at the end of summer 2011, Texas had suffered the driest 10 months since record keeping began in 1895.  Rivers, like the Brazos, actually dried up.

And if that wasn’t enough, the dry weather came with brutal heat.  So brutal, that seven cities recorded at least 80 days above 100°F (Austin logged 90 days and Wichita Falls had 100 days over 100°F, 12 of which were over 110°F).  This left air conditioners around the state straining to keep up, shattering records for the state’s electricity demand, topping 68,000 megawatts in early August. This combination of dry weather and excessive heat, and high electric demand suddenly made state planners begin to take notice of the water-intensive nature of coal plants.

Most electricity power plants require large amounts of water. Coal-fired plants alone account for 67 percent of freshwater withdrawals by the power sector and for 65 percent of the water completely consumed by it. Newer plants include air-cooling or “dry cooling” technologies, but so many plants rely on water-cooling that they accounted for 41 percent of the withdrawals of freshwater in the United States in 2005, according to the United States Geological Survey.

In Texas this summer, one plant had to curtail nighttime operations because the drought had reduced the amount of water available and that which was available was too hot to bring down the temperature of water discharged from the plant. In East Texas, other plant owners had to bring in water from other rivers so they could continue to operate and meet demand for electricity.

Proposed plants were also facing scrutiny around their water use.  The White Stallion coal plant, near Bay City south of Houston, was opposed by a wide variety of Colorado River water users and the LCRA ended up pulling the proposed plant’s 25,000 acre-feet/year water permit from its agenda indefinitely. Citizens of Sweetwater in west Texas were outraged upon hearing that the city was secretly negotiating sale of water rights for a so-called clean coal project.

If the drought persists into the following year (and the State Climatologist has predicted that it is likely much of the state will still be in severe drought through next August with even worse water shortages), the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT – the operators of the electricity grid) has warned that power cuts on the scale of thousands of megawatts are possible.

Texas Water Development Board warns that the state’s water shortage is structural. A structural water shortage is a permanent water shortage that can only be addressed through a structural change such as a reduction in agriculture, population or firm water users (such as traditional power plants) or, increasing water supplies by creating lakes (like we did after the 1950s multi-year drought), setting up desalination plants on the coast or piping water in from another state.  All of these options are dramatic and expensive.

As of this writing, the state needs 18 million acre-feet of water, and it has 17 million acre-feet available to it. By 2060, the state is expected to need 22 million acre-feet but only have 15.3 million acre-feet available to it. Because some dry areas simply can’t have water piped, the total shortfall is projected to be 8.3 million acre-feet. Roughly, Texans will have 2 gallons of water available for every 3 gallons they need.

Adding new coal plants or other intense water use generators to this mix is not part of a sane water policy for a state facing a structural water shortage.  Even ERCOT is taking a closer look at coastal wind generation and solar to provide power during peak energy periods (You know, that time of the day – from 3 to 6 or 7 pm – when the temperatures are the hottest and the air conditioners strain to keep us cool).  This current weather pattern may be the push the state needs to move toward a new energy future for the state.

Read Full Post »

According to the Texas Energy Report, the EPA has issued its first greenhouse gas permit in Texas with the TCEQ refusing to issue permits to LCRA or others

The Lower Colorado River Authority received the first Texas Greenhouse Gas permit as it upgrades a 37-year-old generating unit in Llano County to a more efficient natural gas-powered unit, federal environmental regulators announced Thursday.

LCRA, which is making improvements to its Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant, is the first company in Texas to complete a greenhouse gas permit application and obtain the final permit, a process that took about eight months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The LCRA plant will use improved environmental controls and install modern high efficiency equipment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. “LCRA is leading the way by providing Texans an efficient and reliable source of clean power.”

EPA granted the first Texas greenhouse gas permit and is reviewing 10 others for Texas companies. Under EPA’s final national regulations, projects beginning on Jan. 2, 2011 that “increase greenhouse gas emissions substantially” require the air permits.

While the EPA said it thinks states are “best equipped” to oversee the permitting process, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has refused to do so.

In an Aug. 2, 2010 letter to the EPA, the Texas Attorney General and TCEQ explained, “The State of Texas does not believe that EPA’s suggested approach comports with the rule of law” and that would “preclude TCEQ from declaring itself ready to require permits for greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources as you request.”

Under the LCRA permit, the electric cooperative plans to replace an old 440-megawatt electric generating boiler with a new, 590-megwatt combined cycle gas-fired plant.

“We appreciate EPA’s work on our project,” said LCRA General Manager Becky Motal. “The region will benefit from the latest environmental controls and our customers will benefit from our ability to better manage costs with a plant that will use about 35 to 40 percent less fuel than traditional gas-fired plants.”

The TCEQ released a statement saying it is pleased LCRA’s project is morning forward, but “we see no need for – or any environmental benefit from – EPA’s greenhouse gas permit. The TCEQ authorized the project on Sept. 1, 2011 after careful review that determined the permit was protective of the environment and fully compliant with all state environmental regulations.”

TCEQ’s greenhouse gas letter to the EPA is here.

EPA’s letter to permit holders and the public is here.

Read Full Post »

August 10 LCRA Board meeting canceled after White Stallion water contract pulled from agenda

Discussion and possible action by the LCRA Board of Directors on a contract to provide water to a proposed new coal plant in Matagorda County has been postponed indefinitely. This decision comes after the company proposing the plant substantially changed the terms of the contract on Monday, Aug 1st which prompted the cancellation of the special-called Aug. 10 meeting of the LCRA Board.

The new proposal by White Stallion asks for more time to pay the $55 million ($250,000 a year instead of $55 million upfront) and significantly reduces the amount of water reservation fees White Stallion would have to initially pay. The new proposal included other changes, some unprecedented for an LCRA water contract.

We say, good for the LCRA Board and thank you Senator Fraser for stepping in and asking the LCRA to call a moritorium on water contracts in light of this exceptional drought that blankets three quarters of the state.

Finally, thank you to the 2,200 Texas citizens who sent in cards and letters to the LCRA opposing this contract.  You made a difference.

Read Full Post »

According to a Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) press release, there will be a public meeting in Bay City on July 28th at 6:30 pm regarding the White Stallion water contract.

The Lower Colorado River Authority will hold a public information meeting in Bay City on Thursday, July 28, on a proposed water contract with White Stallion Energy Center. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Bay City Civic Center, 201 Seventh Street.

“LCRA recognizes how important this proposed water contract is to the public and we want to give everyone the opportunity to fully understand the proposed contract before the Board of Directors makes its final decision,” LCRA General Manager Becky Motal said.

The meeting will be structured to offer visitors multiple opportunities to ask LCRA staff about the proposed contract with White Stallion and related issues. The meeting will begin with a short video and presentation on the proposed contract. The public will then have an opportunity to visit with LCRA staff at stations set up for the following issues:

  • Water supply,
  • Proposed White Stallion contract,
  • Water quality and bay health, and
  • Lower basin reservoir.

During the meeting, visitors will be encouraged to submit written questions for a panel question and answer session. The panel will feature LCRA Water Operations Manager Kyle Jensen, LCRA Manager of Water Resources Management Karen Bondy and LCRA Water Supply Strategist James Kowis.

White Stallion has requested 25,400 acre-feet of water a year from LCRA for a power plant in Matagorda County. As a legislatively created regional water supplier, if LCRA has water available to meet a request for supply and an applicant complies with LCRA’s rules, LCRA must make that water available and cannot unreasonably discriminate. LCRA has the water available for White Stallion’s request, even in the current drought conditions.

Because of the size of the request, LCRA has developed a proposal designed to benefit the water supply system of the entire lower Colorado River basin. Under the terms of the proposed contract, White Stallion must pay LCRA $55 million within one year of the contract date. That money must be used for water supply enhancements. LCRA intends to use this payment for:

  • Pumping plant improvements at LCRA’s Bay City pumping plant;
  • A 5,000 acre-foot off-channel reservoir in the lower basin that can serve White Stallion and other customers; and
  • A study to determine the best configuration of water supply projects and enhancements and where they will be located. This could include options like lining canals to save water.

In addition to routine raw water use and reservation rates, White Stallion would also pay $250,000 per year from the date the plant is completed through the end of the contract. These additional funds would be used for future water supply projects. White Stallion also plans to have additional water storage on its plant site capable of storing a week’s worth of the plant’s water use.

Under these terms, once the new reservoir is constructed, LCRA should be able to supply White Stallion without impacting the Highland Lakes or water for agriculture. The new reservoir and future water projects made possible by this contract would also benefit other customers throughout the basin.

“The job of LCRA’s staff was to develop the best water contract it could, and we believe we accomplished that,” Motal said. “This proposed contract is intended to offset the impact of White Stallion to the Highland Lakes and the downstream farmers and also benefits the water supply system of the entire basin.”

A copy of the proposed contract is available at LCRA.org. The LCRA Board will consider the proposed contract August 10.

Read Full Post »

At LCRA’s Board of Directors meeting on June 15, 2011, they discussed a contract to sell up to 25,400 acre-feet of water a year to White Stallion Energy Center for a power plant in Matagorda County.  The LCRA Boardroom was filled with citizens against the contract, and the board heard public comments with 30 signing up to speak, only 2 of whom spoke for the contract.  Matagorda County Judge, Nate McDonald, asked the LCRA board to table the item and take more time to determine the impact a water contract of this size would have on the area.  Board members then voted to defer a decision on the contract until its meeting scheduled for August 10.

Because of the size of the request, LCRA staff has developed a proposal that will address the water supply of the entire lower Colorado River basin.  Read the proposed draft water contract and fact sheet.

A meeting has been scheduled in Bay City, on July 28th, we have no additional details about that meeting at this point.

Read Full Post »

Lake Travis Levels Plummeted During 2009 Drought

Today the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Board of Directors delayed a vote on providing water to the “White Stallion” coal plant proposed for Matagorda County. Though White Stallion’s Chief Operation Officer, Randy Bird, was expecting and asking for approval of a contract today, the board chose to delay action until August 10. This makes sense considering that they were confronted with more than 30 people who signed up to speak against the coal plant, some driving from as far away as the Gulf Coast (some taking off work) in order to be there. This delay is a victory for those opposing the coal plant and a step in the right direction in convincing the LCRA that this project is not a beneficial or responsible use of water from the Colorado River Basin.

Key concerns included the general aspect of this project and the negative effects it would have on the people, environment (and watershed) of the region. There were also, as expected, many concerns regarding the current drought and many agreements that the last thing LCRA should consider is adding more, firm water commitments particularly when LCRA is already asking customers to conserve and scale back their water use. Concerns about how global warming would further worsen dry conditions in the region over the next 55 years (the length of the proposed contract) were also voiced by many of the speakers.

“Even though they haven’t denied it yet, we’re glad they’re taking their time to look into the serious implications of this coal plant request” said Lydia Avila with Sierra Club.  “We’re confident that when they look at the facts they will realize this is a bad deal for Texans and reject it.”

Only one or two people spoke in favor of granting the contract, one of whom was Owen Bludau, Executive Director of the Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation – one of the original entities that worked to bring the White Stallion proposal to Bay City. Those speaking against the contract included Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald, Burnet County Judge Donna Klaeger, David Weinberg (Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters), Doctor Lauren Ross (who recently released this report on how White Stallion would affect water in the Colorado watershed), and many others including concerned residents throughout the LCRA region and landowners located right next to the proposed plant site.

Public Citizen applauds LCRA’s decision to table this vote. It shows that the LCRA takes the concerns of their stakeholders seriously. The next two months should prove to the LCRA that this coal plant is both unnecessary and a waste of our most precious and dwindling resource: our water.

Update and thank you!

Public Citizen wants to thank all of you who responded to our emails, blogs, tweets and phone calls and either called, mailed, or emailed comments in, and to those who showed up and packed the meeting room today.  This decision would probably have been very different if you had not made your concerns know to the board.  You are all awesome!

Read Full Post »

Becky Motal has just been named the first female to become general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority in its 76-year history.

Motal, executive manager of external affairs, was chosen by a unanimous vote of the LCRA board of directors and assumes the helm of the energy and water management agency effective July 2. She replaces Tom Mason who is resigning July 1.

The news ends speculation that Ken Armbrister, the former Texas senator and current legislative director for Gov. Rick Perry, would be chosen for the job.

We don’t know much about Ms. Motal, but will post more as we learn more about her history.

Read Full Post »

The 2009 record drought left the lower Colorado river basin stricken, but rains following the drought had made major inroads to recovery.  Now as Texas sees more than half the state in an “exceptional” drought with no end in sight, the board of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) could decide on Wednesday to sell at least 8.3 billion gallons of water a year to the proposed White Stallion coal-fired power plant near the Gulf coast in one of its first major water contracts since the last drought.

As I look out at the crisp brown vegetation baking in the easement outside my window, and the relentlessly hot air shimmering and dancing before me, I am concerned that there isn’t enough water right now for current stakeholders — cities, farmers, the environment and all the businesses that currently depend upon Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan for their existence.

Manufacturing and electric generation required 184,329 acre-feet of water in 2010 , according to estimates by the Lower Colorado Regional Water Planning Group, which provides statistics for the state water plan. By 2060, that number is expected to rise to 356,430.

Despite active opposition to the plant in Matagorda, the LCRA is likely to award the 40-year contract.  It has long held that it is OBLIGATED to sell water as long as it has water to sell and the use is a beneficial one.

John Dickerson, the LCRA board member who represents Matagorda, wants more time to review the contract saying, people in his district are against the plant and this is played out in a public outcry.  The LCRA board has received 2,260 letters and emails opposed to the project and only one letter in support.  In addition to local opposition to this plant, the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) recommended against granting the permit.  But true to their nature, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granted the permit.  Sierra Club sued in district court and we are currently awaiting the final judgment that will remanded the permit application back to TCEQ to start all over again.


It is important that Texans show up at the LCRA board meeting to speak out against this disastrous water contract.  This is no need to hurry this process and no need to tie up precious Central and South Texas water for an unwanted project.

When:              15 Jun, 9:00 AM

Where:             LCRA Headquarters
3700 Lake Travis Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703 (Map)

Host:               Josh Nelson

Status:             Public, open for RSVP, 10 Guests (Max 100)

To RSVP click here and sign up through CREDO Action

If you can’t attend the meeting, email or call and tell them that you oppose the Lower Colorado River Authority approving the White Stallion coal plant’s requested water contract.

Main Switch Board number is 1-800-776-5272, tell them you want to leave a comment on a board agenda item for Wednesday and they should direct you to the right person.

Or you can submit (their online form says question and they don’t seem to have an option to submit comments, but you can use this) by clicking here.   Be sure to reference the board member if you live in their service area county.

  • Timothy Timmerman, chair, Travis County
  • Rebecca A. Klein, vice chair , Bexar County
  • Kathleen Hartnett White,  secretary, Bastrop County
  • J. Scott Arbuckle, Wharton County
  • Steve K. Balas, Colorado County
  • Lori A. Berger, Fayette County
  • John C. Dickerson III, Matagorda County
  • John M. Franklin, Burnet County
  • Jett J. Johnson, Mills County
  • Sandra Wright Kibby, Comal County
  • Thomas Michael Martine, Blanco County
  • W.F. “Woody” McCasland, Llano County
  • Michael G. McHenry, San Saba County
  • Vernon E. “Buddy” Schrader, Llano County
  • Franklin Scott Spears, Jr., Travis County

Read Full Post »

LCRA’s Fayette Power Project is under legal attack by three anti-pollution groups who filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the coal-fired power plant located near La Grange, about 100 miles northwest of Houston.

The lawsuit was filed by the Environmental Integrity Project, Environment Texas and Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Claiming LCRA’s Fayette Power Project has violated the federal Clean Air Act thousands of times, the plaintiffs allege LCRA ramped up capacity and increased levels of dangerous particle pollution, which is not always visible to the eye but is linked to asthma and heart and lung disease.

In addition, the groups claim the company under-reported the amount of particulate matter emitted from the plant’s smokestacks, and therefore deprived the State of Texas of more than $500,000 in annual air pollution fees.  Click here to access details of the lawsuit.

In addition to the lawsuit, the Texas Pecan Alliance, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and other community and environmental groups have been calling on Austin City Council to commit to the promises of clean energy in line with the Austin Energy Generation plan and have asked for the closure of this plant.

Read Full Post »

Brazos Wind Farm in the plains of West Texas

Brazos Wind Farm in the plains of West Texas - by Wikipedia

The Public Utility Commission passed a scaled-back version of a controversial power line project through the Hill Country to bring West Texas wind energy to the urban centers on Thursday, January 20th.  The commission was under a Monday deadline to act on the project.

The three-member panel spent much of that morning tweaking the routes of the lines and towers that will be built by the Lower Colorado River Authority for the project that covers portions of Schleicher, Sutton, Menard, Kimble, Gillespie, Kerr and Kendall counties.

The case had been ongoing for well over a year and was even sent back to the drawing board once due to protests from property owners concerned that the lines would mar scenic Hill Country vistas.

During PUC’s deliberations, Smitherman spoke at length on the need for affordable, reliable power – saying that the state cannot prosper without it. He also pointed out that even though the project is part of a $5 billion package called the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, the transmission lines would also be available to traditional fossil-fuel generating plant.  And, there is also the potential for utility scale solar in parts of West Texas served by the new transmission lines.


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.

Read Full Post »


The No Coal Coalition brings their mascot, Pancho the Donkey, to the TCEQ hearing, but he is turned away. Photo by Susan Dancer

On Thursday, the TCEQ (Texas Commission of Environmental Quality) held a public meeting for the White Stallion Energy Center at the Bay City Civic Center to hear feedback on the plant’s application for a wastewater permit. (more…)

Read Full Post »

For those of you following our work organizing citizens in the Bay City area against the proposed White Stallion coal plant, there is a new chapter to add to the saga. You may remember that we were down there recently speaking with rice farmers concerned about the plant’s potential (huge!) water use. Turns out not everyone in the county was happy with this turn of events, especially Judge Nate McDonald, who thinks the project will be “great” for the county and the state of Texas.

Clearly, we’re going to have to part ways on that one. Judge McDonald fired the first shot with an op-ed in the Bay City Tribune, but the paper gave us a forum to respond. You’ll find our answer below, and can find the rice farmer’s response here.

No such thing as ‘clean coal’

by Tom “Smitty” Smith

Recently, County Judge Nate McDonald expressed his concerns that rice famers met with Public Citizen, a national consumer and environmental group, to discuss the negative impacts of the proposed White Stallion coal plant, particularly the amount of water the plant will use. Unfortunately, he got his facts wrong about both the plant and our organization.

The judge says he welcomes development and that his requirement for White Stallion is “that it be the cleanest coal plant there is and do no harm to our environment and air quality,” but the facts show that this plant is not the “cleanest coal plant there is” and will do substantial harm.

There is no such thing as “clean coal.” Even if there were, White Stallion would certainly not qualify.

This coal plant would be, by far, the largest source of pollution in Matagorda County. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Austin is not alone in preparing for clean and affordable energy.

When good news like this comes across the internet like this, we have to share. From the cloudy northwest:

Portland General Electric Co. would shut down the state’s only coal-fired power plant 20 years earlier than planned under a proposal it hopes to finalize with state and federal regulators in the coming months.

Essentially, the new plan to shut the Boardman plant down 20 years earlier than planned is to avoid extra costs for pollution controls (more than $500 million by 2017) and avoid carbon risks.  PGE still owes $125 million on the plant, and replacing the 500 MW of power will have its costs too, but read on…

Based on its analysis of carbon and natural gas prices, however, PGE maintains that a 2020 shutdown would be the low-cost, least-risk plan for utility ratepayers and shareholders [emphasis mine]. Under the existing plan, both face the risk of making the huge investment to control haze causing pollution – which does nothing to control the plant’s carbon emissions — then seeing the plant close anyway if global warming legislation or a carbon tax makes its output prohibitively expensive.

Read the full article here. Coal represents about a quarter of PGE’s generation mix. (Los Angeles also has a goal to get out of coal by 2020.)

Austin Energy has similar plans to get out of its only coal plant, the Fayette Power Project. No target date is set yet, but the utility’s 2020 generation plan would reduce Austin’s dependence on it by 20-30%. The next two years will be important as Austin works with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas  (the grid operator for most of Texas) and the Lower Colorado River Authority (co-owner of Fayette) to see what the most practical and fair way out. Learn more about the resource plan and some excellent additional recommendations at www.cleanenergyforaustin.org. You can also learn a lot from AE’s website www.austinsmartenergy.com.


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.

Read Full Post »

San Antonio, TX —  Nuclear power is the most water intensive energy source available. When San Antonio and all of Texas are suffering from extreme drought and are increasingly in need of sources of drinking water, pursuing more nuclear reactors doesn’t make sense, especially true since cheaper, safer alternatives such as energy efficiency, wind, geothermal and solar energy are available. All use significantly less water than nuclear reactors.

Dr. Lauren Ross’ comments are timely in that the Texas drought continues to worsen, and the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board is still considering nine water-related contentions submitted in opposition to additional reactors by SEED Coalition, Public Citizen and STARE, the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy.

“Nuclear reactors consume vast quantities of water,” said Dr. Lauren Ross, environmental engineer and owner of Glenrose Engineering. “The proposed STP reactors 3 and 4 would withdraw 23,170 gallons per minute from the Colorado River. The two proposed reactors would increase forced evaporation by an additional 37,400 acre-feet per year. The water withdrawal required from the Colorado River to replace evaporated water for all four reactors would be about 74,500 acre-feet per year.”

“Water withdrawal for STP’s nuclear reactors can be a significant fraction of the total river flow. Peak water use so far occurred on September 16, 2001, when the water withdrawal was 48% of the total Colorado river flow near the reactor site,” said Dr. Ross. “From January 1, 2001 through September 30, 2006 there were 69 days when withdrawal for existing STP reactors was equal to or greater than one quarter of the entire river flow.” With four reactors and an increase in the surface water demand, the river flow in the future could go even lower than it is now.

Estimated groundwater use would more than double from an average of 798 gallons per minute for the existing facility over the last five years to a level of 2040 gallons per minute for all four reactors, according to Dr. Ross, but STP wants to wait on analyzing groundwater availability until after the permit is issued.

The year 2008 was one of the driest years on record for Central Texas. Dr. Ross’s most recent research shows that in 2008 water use by LCRA’s firm water customers plus four irrigation operators was more than twice that of the Highland Lakes inflows for the same period, so losses are not being replenished. Moreover, STP’s authorized withdrawal is more than one-third of the total Highland Lakes inflow for 2008.

Water versus Energy

The San Antonio Water System recently filed suit for breach of contract against the Lower Colorado River Authority for $1.23 billion. The suit claims that the water-sharing project was killed by the river authority in order to make sure there would be enough water for power plant deals in Matagorda County. At the same time CPS Energy, the San Antonio municipal utility, seeks to be a partner in the proposed nuclear reactors for Matagorda County. STP’s annual permitted withdrawal from the Colorado River is 102,000 acre-feet per year, incredibly close to the amount in the canceled LCRA/SAWS water agreement, 102,500 acre-feet per year (average).

“Will we reach a point where San Antonio will have to decide which matters most, electricity from nuclear reactors or water for drinking?” asked Alice Alice Canestaro-Garcia, visual artist and member of EnergÍa MÍa. “It makes no sense to build two more reactors, which together would use enough water to fill 1,440 swimming pools in one day.”

Increasing Radioactive Contamination

South Texas Project’s license application fails to evaluate the increasing levels of groundwater tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can be dangerous if inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. Tritium emits Beta radiation that causes cancer, cell mutation, and birth defects. “Tritium has been detected in two of the pressure relief wells that collect water leaking from the unlined bottom of the existing main cooling reservoir. Concentrations of tritium have been increasing in both wells, and these concentrations could rise if two more nuclear reactors are built at the site,” said Dr. Ross.

A state water permit proposed for the site fails to address radionuclides such as tritium, and doesn’t require monitoring for total dissolved solids, some metals or the chemicals added by the facility, such as biocides, sulfuric acid, and anti-scalants. There are also no sulfur or sodium limits for the wastewater discharges, even though these are significant components of the water that would be released back to the Colorado River system.

The application’s Environmental Report relies upon a dilution factor of 10 to meet discharge standards, but fails to provide information about how much the waste discharge loads would change with two additional nuclear reactors. It fails to analyze the consequences of the load increases into a system with only a small change in the dilution factor, since the storage volume would increase only 7.4%.

The reactor application admits that “5,700 acre-feet per year leaks through the unlined bottom of the main cooling reservoir into the underlying Gulf Coast Chicot Aquifer” and 68% of it is recovered. The rest migrates underground, seeping into nearby surface water bodies, into pumped wells or the estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Failure to monitor and regulate leakage through the bottom of the main cooling reservoir constitutes a failure to protect groundwater and surface water from plant operations,” said Dr. Ross.

For more information, visit www.EnergiaMia.org

Read Full Post »

Big event tonight for Austinites concerned about coal! Tonight, Sept. 1, will be an Austin Energy Town Hall Meeting on the City’s generation and climate protection plan. The event will be located at 721 Barton Springs Rd., Rm 130 from 6 – 8:30pm. Please attend this meeting so that Austin Energy can hear your voice and see that Austinites want the city to Quit Coal with all haste!

Public Citizen, PODER, Sierra Club, and several other environmental groups held a press conference this morning to announce the formation of a coalition to help move the City away from burning coal for electricity.  Public Citizen has long been an opponent of coal-fired electricity and the construction of new coal plants, and this new campaign will attempt to get the City of Austin to divest itself from the Fayette Coal Plant, part of which it owns along with the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Watch the video from this morning’s event, and watch for Matthew Johnson, our energy policy analyst.  Sadly, he is not in character as #unfrozencavemanlawyer 🙁

[vimeo 6388102]

Read more from the press release after the jump: (more…)

Read Full Post »