Speakers: Nuclear energy can end up costing all of us


Published: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 11:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 11:31 p.m.

In Gainesville, where a biomass power plant is slated to go online in 2013 and is a current point of contention among City Commission candidates, nuclear power isn't the prevailing energy issue.

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Mary Olson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service speaks about the politics, economics and environmental impact of the nuclear industry on Florida's Nature Coast at the Civic Media Center on Monday in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

But a pair of activists and advocates against nuclear power gave a presentation on Monday night at the Civic Media Center showing how nuclear energy can cost all Americans — indeed, people worldwide — in economic, environmental and health terms.

"Radiation doesn't take off an arm or a leg," said Mary Olson, of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. "It goes after our cells."

Not to mention the fiscal impact, which her colleague, Mandy Hancock, a Gainesville resident and high-risk energy organizer for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, described as "socialized risk and privatized profit."

While there is no nuclear plant in Alachua County, Progress Energy Florida's currently offline Crystal River plant in Citrus County isn't far away.

Neither is the area in Levy County where Progress is proposing to build two new nuclear reactors.

Olson and Hancock gave their presentation ahead of a meeting Thursday when regulators will hear from residents in Levy County about their concerns.

One of the more pressing issues for Emily Casey, a Citrus County resident who owns property near the proposed Levy County site and who attended the discussion Monday, is water.

"You're going to have this big straw sucking water from all directions," Casey said, referring to the millions of gallons of water the plant will need to operate. "There's a lot we can do instead of building these $22 (billion), $25 billion devices to boil water."

In one slide, Olson showed a photograph of the Rainbow River.

"This river deserves our help. So do these guys," she said, showing another photo of manatees.

In addition to safety and environmental issues, fiscal sustainability was their main concern, pointing to a program in some Southern states, including Florida, that guarantees loans to utility companies that want to build nuclear plants.

Hancock said two bills have been filed in the Legislature this session to repeal Florida's program.

They showed footage of the tsunami in Japan last year that led to equipment failure, the release of radioactive gas and a meltdown at at least one reactor at the six-reactor Fukushima nuclear power plant.

"These places are not recoverable," Olson said referring to Fukushima and sites of other nuclear disasters like at the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine. "A nuclear accident has no end."

Thursday's meeting, by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, will be from 1 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. at the Plantation Inn, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail, Crystal River.

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