Letter to the Editor

Beware of AEHI's claims

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dear editor:

In their promotion of a nuclear power plant in Hammett, Idaho AEHI chief Don Gillespie has portrayed a seamless and quick time table for construction and operation generating numerous high paying jobs, increasing the wealth, real estate values, and tax base of our communities. But the Nuclear Plant Journal (trade paper for the construction industry, September 2001) said, "It takes much longer than 3-5 years to have a new nuclear plant operating...it will take at least 8-10 years to get the first unit operating...there is a long lead time for bringing a nuclear unit on line..."

Money is and should be a concern for AEHI, especially considering the times. The Financial Times of London reported two weeks ago, March 12, 2009 that the AREVA European Pressurized Reactor model, the model Gillespie has proposed for Hammett, posted a "staggering loss...raising questions over the costs of the technology..." the editors of the Idaho Statesman questioned Gillespie's financing (September 24, 2008) last fall and asked how he could succeed in a tough industry where Warren Buffett, the richest man in America, could not. The Statesman argued then and justifiably so, that other far less tenuous financial undertakings, like Tamarack Ski Resort have fallen in the face of our current struggling economy.

Though Mr. Gillespie has styled himself "a visionary" with great ideas, we in Hammett community would like to see a list of the projects he has completed. It's easy to talk and sell, but Mr. Gillespie does not live in our area and he will not have to live with any of the ramifications of this nuclear power plant. In a recent survey, 29 of the 31 residences living within a 2-3 mile radius of the proposed plant are opposed to it.

The concerns of Hammett residents are many, not the least being the AEHI plans to store the highly toxic nuclear waste on site, next to the Snake River. Last summer in July of 2008, 794 pounds of unenriched uranium was leaked at Tricastin nuclear site in France where the toxic chemicals ran into two rivers there. Authorities banned the consumption of well water in 3 towns and the watering of crops. If this were to occur in Idaho in the heat of summer, crop loss and damage could be devastating

Though nuclear power is considered relatively safe, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement reports that all nuclear plant facilities leak low level radioactivity. Given this situation, 40 scientists involved in the European Commission on Radiation Risk concluded that present standards for exposure are deficient. These standards were set before DNA was discovered and DNA damage from radiation could be reliably detected. There are many children living in Hammett. Reuters reported (December 8, 2007) a study done for Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection which found that children under 5 living within 5 kilometers of any of Germany's 16 nuclear plants had twice the risk of leukemia and a higher than average risk of other cancers.

Finally there continues to be a significant concern about this nuclear plant proposal and the Snake River. Science Alert journal (October 2007) said that "nuclear power is the most water-hungry of all energy sources with a single reactor consuming 35-65 million litres of water each day." The journal went on to note that water scarcity issues in drought ridden places (like Idaho) are exacerbated by nuclear power plants which encourage competition for water between power plants, agriculture, industries, and environmental flows. Perhaps for this reason alone, there is no major industrial complex like the nuclear power plant proposed by AEHI on the Snake River between Milner and Swan Falls dam.

Diana Hooley