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Concerns on Nuclear Power Plants

March 22, 2011

03/23/11 After watching the horrific scenes of fire shooting out of a nuclear power reactor plants in Japan and learning of possible radiation leaks all triggered by an earthquake and tsunami a week ago, Indiana legislators may be taking a second look at the bill introduced into the Senate on January 6 of this year.

The Bill (SB 251), that was passed out of committee, changes the term “clean coal and energy projects” that is used currently to just “clean energy projects”. The deletion would allow nuclear energy production or generating facilities within the state.

If passed, SB 251 would be effective on July 1, 2011.

Opponents of the bill and nuclear power plants as well have repeatedly called nuclear power risky, expensive and a threat to the environment. They contend that more research on cleaner energy, such as solar, hydro and wind power should be pursued.

Indiana has no nuclear plants, but neighboring states of Illinois (11 plants), Michigan (4) plants), and Ohio (2 plants) have had them for many years. Some of the 17 are more than 30 years old.

SB 251 includes the promise of financial incentives for building a nuclear plant by allowing companies to start charging utility customers before a plant would even begin operation.

Locally, Marshall County EMA (Emergency Management Agency) Director, Clyde Avery, said Indiana has been working on an emergency plan for responding to nuclear power related emergencies for some time.

Avery said, “We have been in the process of working with the state along with ten other counties and anticipate training through FEMA (federal agency) some time in April.”

Avery said a part of Marshall County lies within the 50-mile pathway from the Cook Nuclear Power Plant located three and one-half miles north of Bridgman, MI in Berrien County.

The plant, only an hour or so from South Bend, is operated by Indiana Michigan Power Company and supplies one-third of the electricity for the company’s customers. Cook has two reactors and went online in the 1970’s. Their license to continue operation will be in effect for approximately two more decades.

Avery said he has begun forming a “sampling”: team as a part of the overall emergency plan made up of the Health, Fire, Police Departments and the Marshall County Extension Office.

Avery said, “We have a responsibility to learn from that (Japanese) disaster.”

Carol Anders Correspondent