I got a letter in the mail the other day from an energy company that wants to build a nuclear power plant a couple miles from my house.
The letter was pretty much some pre-emptive propaganda to prepare the community to accept a big corporation’s* nuclear facility that had supposedly (according to what they told us last year) pulled out because they couldn’t find a suitable area. It included un-pro phrases like “that’s just media hype” to describe opposing viewpoints. They made several claims and promises, so I want to add my comments to those claims:
Nuclear power is a preferable clean energy source that does not contribute to health issues and Global Warming.
And even less so are our existing Hydroelectric dams, which supply all the power our region needs, don’t cause health problems, don’t pollute the rivers with “accidental” releases of radioactive water, and don’t cause emit greenhouse gasses that may contribute to Global Warming (like AEHI I’ve chosen to capitalize Global Warming out of respect for Al Gore who is still trying to trademark the term).
Construction of a new reactor will create four to five years of jobs for as many as 5,000 workers
So where are these 5,000 temporary workers going to come from, and where will they be going once the reactors are completed? Are they going to be members of the existing community (which numbers around 5,000 as it is), or are they going to be contractors from elsewhere? If its anything like the construction work that pulled into town after Obama’s stimulus packages were dealt, they’re going to be big companies from out of town or out of state. Their impact on the local economy will be them buying groceries at the local store, eating fast food, buying fuel and maybe lodging or rentals. That’s great for people in those industries – they’ll get extra income for four to five years while the rest of us continue to wither and die in a stagnant economy – but then what? What happens five years later when half the population of a town that instantly doubled in size packs up and moves out?
1,000 to 1,500 workers will have permanent jobs once construction is completed and will make up to $80,000 a year each
They said these workers only need a high school diploma or GED and some minimal specialty training. Is that training going to be provided by the company to encourage existing residents to work there, or are they – like most big companies that have come into the area – simply going to bring their own staff or advertise and recruit in the “nearby” (70 miles away) big city?
Nuclear plants will contribute $2 billion in GDP to the local area during construction and $1 billion to the state GDP during operations
Read that closely. During construction, $2 billion will be pumped into the “local” economy. I seriously doubt that means our town of 5,000 – it likely includes cities off in the distance who will be shuttling their workers out here from their existing jobs in the big city. The remaining $1 Billion is for the state. It does not say “annually”. Not that these numbers really mean anything anyway – AEHI, the company that wants to build the nuclear facility, has never built a reactor before, and they don’t really have any way of accurately predicting how much money it will bring to the area or to the state.
Nuclear power is the lowest-cost energy and more reliable than solar or wind energy
Great! But is this a guarantee that the local power monopoly will lower its rates? Absolutely not! In fact, rates will likely continue to increase, as they have in other parts of the country when new energy plants spring up. What happens is there are now 1,000 – 5,000 high-paid people living in town, so the cost of living increases, which inspires groceries, taxes, real estate and utilities to increase their rates too. If you think Idaho Power or whoever is going to lower their rates after being involved in a multi-billion dollar construction project, think again!
67% of Americans favor building new nuclear plants
Because the majority of Americans don’t have to live downwind or down stream from one! I think it would make more sense to give the big cities (the primary consumers and reason for building these things) the nuclear plants. Big cities are usually built on water sources, and it would save money both in the construction and in piping the power to town to have the reactor perched right next to downtown. Build it in Boise, or Portland, or what ever place will benefit most from it, and stop stealing our wilderness, our farmlands, and our hunting areas!
Environmentalists, including one of the founders of Greenpeace, support nuclear power
Again, because it’s not in THEIR backyard! All the prominent environmentalists live in big cities and are severely detached from real nature and true wilderness. I’m a little suspicious about this claim too, because it, like the others, doesn’t bother to back up its claim. I guess AEHI thought the rednecks can’t read or haven’t heard of the internet!
The reactor will only use about one million gallons of water a day
This cracks me up. If they knew how arid it is here, or that the only source of water at the location they want to ruin (Big Willow Road & Stone Quarry Road) is unlikely to reliably provide “a million gallons of water a day”, maybe they’d re-think this thing. One has to wonder here they are REALLY planning to get the water – are they going to pump it out of the Payette or Snake Rivers? Will they be stealing our groundwater?
Since the nuclear industry started in 1957, no one has been killed, injured, or even improperly exposed to radiation at a commercial nuclear plant
This is a flat out lie. I thought maybe they used the word “commercial” to differentiate between the numerous military, nuclear testing labs and other non “commercial” nuclear facilities, but even using the word “commercial” doesn’t cover this one up. Unlike their propaganda, which provides no sources, I will provide a very good link here to a list of nuclear accidents and deaths, including several which were at commercial facilities: http://www.lutins.org/nukes.html#power
Robert Peabody, 37, died at the United Nuclear Corp. fuel facility in Charlestown, Rhode Island on July 24th, 1964 after being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation from some Uranium that went critical. In the years that followed, 6 workers died from being scalded to death in commercial nuclear facilities. There have been several accidents where workers were accidentally exposed to radioactive water, or came into other contact with low-level radioactive waste.
As residents of the area – and unlikely to get a job in the facility – we really shouldn’t be as concerned about the workers who were injured or killed. Yes, it’s tragic, but what we should be worried about are the thousands of incidences in which radioactive material (storage containers, water that is released into local rivers and lakes, radioactive gasses, etc) has been inadvertently released into the public’s drinking supp.lies, food supplies and air.
“Despite media hype, the Three Mile Island incident did not harm any workers or members of the community”
to counter this, a direct quote from the site I referenced above:
A major accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania. At 4:00 a.m. a series of human and mechanical failures nearly triggered a nuclear disaster. By 8:00 a.m., after cooling water was lost and temperatures soared above 5,000 degrees, the top portion of the reactor’s 150-ton core melted. Contaminated coolant water escaped into a nearby building, releasing radioactive gasses, leading as many as 200,000 people to flee the region. Despite claims by the nuclear industry that “no one died at Three Mile Island,” a study by Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, professor of radiation physics at the University of Pittsburgh, showed that the accident led to a minimum of 430 infant deaths.
Wow! Should we trust an industry and business that claims 430 babies are not members of a community?
Spent nuclear fuel can be reprocessed for re-use in power reactors
Great! I want to know this, though: When nuclear fuel is arriving at your reactor, or when spent fuel is leaving it, will you be trucking it on public highways through Emmett to Arco, through Payette & Ontario to Washington, flying it in over our neighborhoods and farm lands, or bringing it in on a train and unloading in downtown Payette? I can’t speak for the rest of my community, but I don’t like any of those plans. Maybe you’ll just send it up willow creek on a barge?
When they build their plant on Big Willow, our state (and certainly our area) will lose one of the last hunting areas where there are still actually deer. We will be losing one of the only places to ride dirt bikes and practice our marksmanship. Public land will become part of private industry, and the public – and wildlife – will not longer have that place to roam. They haven’t told us how many acres they will be robbing us of, but don’t be fooled into thinking “it will only be a few hundred”.
Those who support AEHI’s desire to build a nuclear power facility i our backyard do so out of points of ignorance. They’ve bought into the hype : that it will create thousands of jobs for existing residents of the area, that it will lower our power bills, that nuclear energy is “100% safe”, that this company is experienced in building reactors in desert areas.
The truths need to be made known. AEHI has never built any nuclear reactors, and their experience in “consulting alternative energy executives” is questionable (they never offer verifiable proof, and their consulting company was only in existence for one year, ending in 2006 because they didn’t pay a $50 fee). They don’t have the money to build the reactor, they don’t have the money to pay people to ensure it is safe, and they don’t have the money to buy the 5,100 acres of land they want to steal from the public. They don’t even have the money to proofread their website or hire a decent graphic designer!
“Progressives” who live far away from the proposed nuclear sites want to distract you and point out AEHI’s primary opposition, the “Snake River Alliance” has failed at their attempts to stop AEHI. I have to ask, does that mean the SRA have something wrong with them? Heck no! It simply means that the same kind of market saturation-driven consumer-mentality exploited by Apple, Obama, AT&T and Lady Gaga is helping AEHI develop “loyalty” based on its own campaign of “hope” (you get a job) and “change” (the wilderness into something to recharge your iPhone).
So what do we do about it?
- Educate yourself about Nuclear Energy from a variety of sources other than those happily provided by AEHI. They’re just going to tell you the things that will make them look harmless or beneficial.
- Educate yourself on the dangers that a nuclear facility will bring to the community. What happens when the creek runs dry? Where will they store waste? How deep is the water table? What geologic composition might prevent leaks from contaminating our ground water?
- How will area wildlife (like the endangered squirrels – S. brunneus endemicus – that ONLY live in the Payette foothills!) respond to further building on their territory, or to strange sounds, smells, or even release of radiation?
- Since AEHI has never built a reactor before, it is difficult to analyze their past reactors to see how many local people actually got hired on to work there, or what kind of business it has brought to the community. Try to find examples of similar communities and other energy companies to estimate the likelihood of local citizens getting jobs with the company. It is likely there will not be the kind of help to existing residents that AEHI is promising.
- Keep your eyes open for any opportunities to learn more about their plans, and certainly any opportunities to voice your opinions!
- Find out what kind of liability AEHI will have if/when something goes wrong.
- If nuclear fuel or waste will be railed through our town, voice your concern!
- Contact politicians and neighbors to raise awareness after you’ve studied these things.
- Keep in mind, if you fail to prevent this from being built and it is revealed that there aren’t that many jobs for locals, it does present a danger to the community, and power rates actually go up, it will be too late to change your mind. The land it sits on will be lost forever. You won’t be able to evict 1,000 people who moved into our little community to work at the plant, and any poison that spills into the soil, goes to our ground water, leaks into our rivers or puffs up into the atmosphere will be there for thousands of years.
* It turns out AEHI isn’t really a big company. They put on a big front, but only have $409,000 in assets, no source of income, and their big financial backers haven’t given them any money yet because they’re waiting for AEHI’s due diligence. Despite documented claims that the CEO hasn’t really ever run any big businesses (and looking at their unprofessional website and mailings, I’m not surprised), a lot of people are still cheering them on for the promises of “5,000 new jobs”, “lower energy costs” and “cleaner energy”.
AEHI never built a reactor before and doesn’t have enough money to buy a house.
AEHI wants 5,100 acres outside Payette
Source One Capital hasn’t given them any money
Inconsistencies in CEO’s story
The missing link: Greenpeace’s Stephen Tindale Now Advocates Nuclear Energy
AEHI’s Website (complete with second-rate graphics and typo’s!)
AEHI’s website is trying to promote their project to the suckers in Payette on the following points:
• Thousands of high paying jobs
• Better schools, hospitals, police, fire
• Better roads
• 5 times more tax revenue
• Appreciating property
• Low cost energy to attract other industry
• Idaho is out of baseload power
• Northwest and west coast have critical power shortages with dams closing and prohibitions on coal plants
• The nation has a national security problems due to energy shortfalls
• The only power source that can significantly address “Global Warming” according the UN study on Climate Change
taking my cue from them, I suggest anyone who is NOT in favor of nuclear power in Payette to email your concerns to the following people:
and ALSO SEND A PAPER COPY to:
PAYETTE COUNTY PLANNING AND ZONING
PAYETTE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
1130 3rd Ave N. Room #107
PAYETTE, IDAHO 83661
AEHI does not care about this community, they care about making money themselves! That’s why they sent a single letter to area residents that is nothing more than a biased “look at how good a nuclear plant in your town would be!” piece of propaganda. The make a lot of claims, but haven’t bothered to substantiate any of them.
I am not against nuclear power … I just think it needs to go somewhere else rather than stealing our wilderness from us and increasing the liklihood of disaster in the area. Their materials talk about a shortage of energy in the “northwest” – why not go to Washington or Oregon instead? And what happened to keep them out of Elmore county?
On 11/18/09 The Argus published an interview with the AEHI guy (Don Gillispie), you can find it here. In that interview, he snidely refers to the good people of Elmore county who blocked him there:
“We moved to Elmore County, but we were sort of forced out by some locals who don’t know much about nuclear energy and don’t want to, either.”
Of course that’s what the problem was! The locals were ignorant rednecks, right? Maybe, Gillipsie, they were EDUCATED and you couldn’t pull your scam over on them. I heard that their local paper exposed some of your lies, like when you claimed to have graduated MIT (but, it turned out you actually just attended a seminar there once? wow!). As I’ve mentioned here, the mailing you sent the Payette community was littered with little white lies about cheaper energy (not for consumers!), jobs (not for the local folks!), safety (yes, actually there have been several deaths and injuries in commercial plants from exposure to radioactive material, even in recent years!), and environmental friendliness (invading the endangered squirrel’s territory, ignoring the fact that Idaho already has hydroelectric dams that also don’t contrinute to global warming, and they don’t pollute the earth with radioactive material, either!).
I also came across another website today that I’d like to share: myidahoenergy.com
I discussed the proposed nuclear plant with several people over the last day or two, and have been surprised at how few people outside Payette even knew about it! With it potentially affecting Emmett, Weiser and Ontario, you’d think there would have been some news coverage or additional mailers sent! I guess some of Ontario knows now because of the article from this afternoon, but I am amazed at how “hush-hush” this has all been!
Am looking forward to TOMORROW NIGHT (Thursday 11/19/2009, 7:00pm) at the PAYETTE HIGHSCHOOL – the community will have the chance to speak their researched and educated concerns, and AEHI can go away and tell the next community how ignorant and stubborn we were. I hope they will finally reveal what kind of reactor it will be so we can have a chance to look up safety and water consumption information … bhecause it is frustrating (and to AEHI’s advantage!) to NOT give us enough information to go look into it ourselves. (And it ruins their “you’re too stupid to argue with me” approach).
There was an excellent article in the Argus today about a man whoalso opposed the AEHI plant, based (also) on the lies (sorry to use the word, but it is true and accurate!) AEHI and Gilipsie have spread in their attempts to fool the public into letting them build here. I am thankful that Dr. Peter Rickards spoke up, because with “Dr.” in front of his name, people are more likely to listen and not brush him off like they would a nameless, faceless blogger. 🙂 The article is located here.
UPDATE #4 – The Hearing:
The hearing was last night. Because of the format, I was not able to ask my questions, but of the areas they covered that fit the format (it was on land use, not safety), I have to issue the following corrections:
– The proposed plant (which they still have not revealed enough information on to allow any of us to study and prepare in advance for discussion for the saftey hearing) will use at most 1 million gallons of water a day, and as little as 100,000. I had misread the line about the 1 million gallons in the letter. It had said “up to”. MY APOLOGIES. That eases my water concerns (related to safety, not water rights) a little, but they still haven’t said where the water will be coming from, only that it will be pumped into two on-site ponds and circulated back & forth, only drawing more water to replenish that which leaks or evaporates. Leaks? Leaks where? Into our ground water? Down to our rivers? And (still) where will it be pumped from? Groundwater or the rivers?
– My wife seemed pretty convinced with their stated backgrounds. I need to do more research before I can state whether or not their claims are “stretched truths” or not. Supposedly the members of the board of AEHI are wanting to bring radiation to Payette out of the goodness of their own hearts, and not for money. Deep within my soul there was a resounding, “yeah, right!”, but whatever. They claimed to be doing something upstanding and righteous, so it must be so, right?
– My wife was also satisfied with their claims that nuclear energy was safe and that there is nothing to worry about. When I brought out a list of documented accidents and deaths involving commercial nuclear facilities, she insisted I’d read the claim AEHI made in their promotional letter wrong, that I’d missed some kind of nuance. After reading it to herself again and again, the only thing she could say is, “I wonder why they would say that?” I love my wife dearly, but she’s the kind of person who will buy anything the door-to-door salesperson brings by, or the phone solicitor asks for … because she has a belief in the universal and inherant truth and goodwill in all people. It is difficult for her to grasp the real truth that people lie, especially sales people and people who are laying their life on the line for something that stands to satisfy some desire of the flesh, like money, power, food, drugs, or sex. I don’t think she realizes that the guy pretending to need gas money to visit his family (but really wants more cash to buy meth) is the same thing as the guy who tells a girl how pretty and smart she is (so he can, you know) or the businessman who tells you that bringing radioactive materials through your town is safe (so he can become a billionaire). The thing I’ve learned about such people … is that those who use BS to get something they crave are so subject to addiction as to bypass honesty, and will eventually ignore other moral points in their path to get that thing. If AEHI are going to tell a little white lie about safety, and maybe a grey lie about financial benefits to the community or that they aren’t in it for the money, but want to “give something back” to the community … what sort of terrible, full-fledged black lies are off in the distant future? Lies about accidentally releasing radiation into the community? Lies about not being able to raise money or maintain funding to safely run the plant or safely dispose of spent fuel and other materials? It never stops at the “little white lie”.
– They went into a little more specifics about the types of jobs that will be available, and that very few of these jobs would be the $80,000/year jobs. I don’t think they did a good enough job of portraying the reality that few (if any) of the construction jobs will go to out-of-work handimen … instead going to large and established contracting companies with experience (and a low bid) on building roads or nuclear facilities. Even so, my personal concerns were relieved just a little.
In the article in The Argus today (found here), AEHI’s CEO said something downright strange:
“Gillispie said he encourages people to do their own research on nuclear plants. He said he doesn’t want people to draw conclusions from the meeting or the media. He motivates people to research him, the company and the impact this proposed plant can have on Payette County.”
I can understand the remark about “the media” … it’s sadly become a catch-phrase, particularly in politics. The sad thing about it is that it is only when we only view one media source, or only look at one point of view that the media is dangerous. If we look at everything we can find, however, the media can be pretty enlightening in providing opposing views, information that gives us a few keywords to search, etc.
The problem I have with what he said falls into two points:
- How are people supposed to be any more educated when AEHI won’t tell us what kind of plant it is? We can’t look up safety features specific to this plant if we don’t know what kind of plant it would be. We can easily look at the problems of other plants and nuclear power in general, and we can look at the economic impact that construction of such plants has on other communities elsewhere in the US.
- If he doesn’t want people to make any conclusions based on the meeting, why did they have the meeting?
Gillispie was certainly right about one thing: people need to research him and his company. It is unfortunate that those who have become personal targets of Gillispie and his AEHI buddies and supporters. There really is very little about the company online, except for scattered opposition and the company’s own website (which provides little more than the same hype AEHI has been spreading through mailers). The “facts” AEHI provides (like the “84% of people would have a nuclear plant built again” thing) never include sources, yet they expect (and have received!) citations from those who criticize them.
In pleading with the community not to base their decisions on anything they find in “the media” (i.e. internet) or at the meeting (where they could hear the man speaking in the flesh!), and then not supplying enough information to allow a reasonable person to research, Gillispie is setting up the public and his competition to look foolish when they debate him on these points. If a person were to list off facts about safety problems with nuclear plants, he can simply say “but not this kind of plant!”. That seems unfair.
Some links worth viwing (though not by Gillipsie’s criteria, because the involve ‘media’):
“Hammett farmer Nancy Blanksma has a completely different impression. She went to the June 16 meeting to learn more about the nuclear plant Gillispie was planning to build only 200 yards from the 960-acre farm her husband, Jeff, and his father transformed from desert in the early 1970s.
Today, with water pumped out of the Snake River, they grow wheat, potatoes, alfalfa and beans and plan to turn the farm over to their children. When she raised questions about the plant, Gillispie told her if she didn’t like it, maybe he’d buy them out.
“His remarks were extremely flippant,” Blanksma said. “He didn’t give people answers to the questions we deserved. He didn’t even try. He came across arrogantly, as if he didn’t care if he had our opinions or not.”” (http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/2636398)
Don’s own blog: http://cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com/ It’s interesting to go through and see how inconsistent some of his articles are with some of the ‘facts’ he presents elsewhere. Which are true?
and, in the interest of fairness, since i have now linked to two of AEHI/Gillispie’s websites, as well as favorable and unfavorable blogs, i have to also link to AEHI’s opponent: http://www.snakeriveralliance.org/
There’s an interesting article from the other side of the state that said:
AEHI, which shifted its proposed plant from Owyhee County to Elmore County in early 2008, has asked for a comprehensive plan amendment for a privately-owned, 5,100-acre site in remote northern Payette County. (www.magicvalley.com)
There is certainly much to be said/learned/cautious about over the next year in regard to this plant.