Group fears plant's river impact

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Nuclear regulators did not consider drought, climate change and the growing demands on the Savannah River when they signed off on a draft Environmental Impact Statement supporting the eventual expansion of Plant Vogtle, according to an Atlanta environmental group.

"Expanding nuclear Plant Vogtle will affect not just this local community in Burke County, but Georgia as a whole and our region overall," wrote Sara Barczak of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, in a Nov. 28 letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The problem, she says, is that the river might not be able to accommodate the increase in water volume required by additional reactors, especially in light of recent drought and evidence that climate change will further stress water resources across the Southeast.

"The NRC does not acknowledge that the Savannah River appears to already be over-allocated today, let alone several decades in the future," the organization wrote. "This needs to be studied before the final EIS is issued."

Southern Nuclear Operating Company applied on Aug. 15, 2006, for an early site permit which -- if approved -- would give the company up to 20 years to decide whether to build one or more additional reactors at the plant, and to apply to the NRC for permits to initiate construction.

The NRC concluded last summer that environmental impacts would not keep the agency from issuing the early site permit. The public comment period for the draft was to end last Wednesday but was extended by 30 days.

According to Ms. Barczak, Vogtle's two existing reactors withdraw a monthly average of 69 million gallons per day of river water, and consume -- through its loss as steam -- about 43 million gallons per day, meaning that only about one-third of the withdrawals are returned to the river.

The proposed two reactors, she said, would use about 53.6 million gallons per day during normal use and up to 83.2 million gallons per day at maximum use, with 50 to 75 percent of that volume potentially lost as steam, she wrote.

"Nowhere in this document does it appear that the NRC has evaluated how the Savannah River is going to be able to handle the Georgia and South Carolina that we will live in decades from now, that by the NRC's own statements appears to be a future in which the Savannah River is going to see extreme increases in demand," the group wrote.

Although the water consumption figures appear large, they represent a fraction of the river's flow, said Southern Nuclear spokeswoman Beth Thomas.

"Our units use about 1 percent of the average annual water flow," she said. "If we built two additional units, for a total of four units, those four units would use about 2 percent of the average annual flow, so in reality it is a very small amount of what's in the river, and the NRC has said the environmental impact associated with additional units would be small."

Plant Vogtle is in Burke County, about 26 miles south of Augusta.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 12/03/07 - 04:18 am
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..."and consume, through its

..."and consume, through its loss as steam, ..." is one of those statements that makes absolutely no sense. Conversion of water to steam is not consumption and in no way represents a loss. Where do you think the steam goes? Rises up to outer space and drifts away? It's heavy moisture that cools and precipitates out to fall on the ground and surrounding foliage and eventually returns to the river. It's just not returned immediately as water from the cooling of Vogtle. I guess it's a moot point, but the way this is presented in this article, you'd think Vogtle was taking the water and using it up.

Uncle Remus
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Uncle Remus 12/03/07 - 04:21 am
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Amen sister, tell it all...

Amen sister, tell it all...

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 12/03/07 - 05:16 am
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Scientists are studying

Scientists are studying paintings of sunsets over the last two hundred years to better understand climate change in a hope to improve computer models for predictions. Now, that's what I call some fancy science. Sometimes art is better than politics.

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 12/03/07 - 08:05 am
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i doubt the above......

i doubt the above......

Da Voice Inside Your Head
7
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Da Voice Inside Your Head 12/03/07 - 08:22 am
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I knew it was time for the

I knew it was time for the Bunny Huggers to come out of whatever cave they reside in. Nuclear power is about as clean as it gets.Guess why we have some of the lowest electrical rates in the US? No brownouts? Because we have two NUclear power plants that provide up to 4200 Megawatts of Electricity. Plus look at the money that will come into the area during the construction. Looks like a WIn for everyone.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 12/03/07 - 08:23 am
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playlikethunder2, you're not

playlikethunder2, you're not a dem voter are you? Try googling news.yahoo.com/s/ap20071129/ap_on_sc/artists_climate_change

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 12/03/07 - 08:39 am
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Thank you, Patricia, for

Thank you, Patricia, for understanding the pathetic reasoning of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Power plants do not "consume" water. They merely use it, much as we use it when we turn on the tap to wash our dishes or water our lawns or take a refreshing drink of tap water. The water on earth today is the same water the dinosaurs drank. It is not created nor destroyed by man in any meaningful way.

tiredOFitALL
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tiredOFitALL 12/03/07 - 09:02 am
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Unless everyone goes back to

Unless everyone goes back to 500 sq.ft. homes, 1-40watt light bulb per room, throw out all TV's, computers, washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers, shut down all manufacturing, or accept wind turbines at every bare spot of ground from 'sea to shining sea' we have to have more turbine generators producing electrical power.
Last week i read in the paper where some experts are predicting the SouthEast to have 40% of the US population by 2030. Personnaly i think we have enough people here now,,, but if that comes to reality don't you think we will have to have the generation to support the population?
I say build the nukes and staff the security forces to protect same.

egan01
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egan01 12/03/07 - 09:47 am
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Ms Barczak probably lives in

Ms Barczak probably lives in a 5000 sq. ft. house with an 800 amp servicw panel and drives an suv that doesn't get close to 20 mpg.

Tall1
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Tall1 12/03/07 - 10:02 am
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If the energy is produced by

If the energy is produced by non-coal or oil based technology, it's better for the earth and our economy. Let them build and we could actually be LEADERS in something positive in this country.

fredinaiken
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fredinaiken 12/03/07 - 10:20 am
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You nutty tree huggers: You

You nutty tree huggers: You can't have it both ways. It's either global warming or nuclear power. Or we all go live in the woods in tents without heat in the winter or cooling in the summer. You go to the woods first, for several years while we all watch. Then you have some standing to block nuclear power.

NewsNut
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NewsNut 12/03/07 - 12:49 pm
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i say, cut off the power to

i say, cut off the power to the tree huggers and see if their opinions stay the same.

gnx
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gnx 12/03/07 - 03:01 pm
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What the tree huggers and the

What the tree huggers and the newspaper forget to mention is the Vogtle site was originally designed as a four unit site. Units three and four have always been waiting in the wings to be built and should be. Florida is going to need that energy soon.

mooseye
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mooseye 12/04/07 - 11:12 pm
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well, just hope that they

well, just hope that they don't dig up an extinct snail or some such or the units will not be finished for 20 years.

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