April 26, 2011 Proposed Nuclear Plant Nixed in Colorado
In a major win for the Colorado Sierra Club and its coalition allies, on Monday, April 25, the Pueblo County commissioners voted to reject a land use designation that would have locked in county approval of a proposed nuclear power plant.
Above, Bob Kinsey of Colorado Physicians for Social Responsibility speaks at an April 1 "No Fools No Nukes" rally at the Pueblo County Courthouse. The Sierra Club helped organize the rally along with Puebloans for Smart Energy, Better Pueblo, and Pueblo Citizens for Clean Air.
"This is a victory for our environment and the health of future generations," says Joan Seeman, a nuclear and toxics specialist with the Club's Rocky Mountain Chapter. "Pueblo has cheaper, cleaner energy sources available that can grow the local economy with good, green jobs and a broadened tax base."
The commissioners' decision to reject the new nuclear plant received widespread media coverage, including this spot on KRDO13 ABC News. Below, the April 1 "No Fools No Nukes" rally.
Local lawyer Don Banner had submitted an application to rezone 24,000 acres of land in Pueblo County for a so-called "Clean Energy Park" development featuring a nuclear reactor. Concerned citizens, including local Sierra Club members, vigorously opposed the rezoning plan over the past several months, and applauded the commissioners' decision Monday.
"This decision should send a signal to nuclear speculators everywhere," says Club activist and Sange de Cristo Group Chair Ross Vincent, at left below. "We're not interested. No more will Pueblo be the dumping ground for junk technology that smart communities don't want. We will fight newly-proposed nuclear power plants anywhere in Colorado."
Vincent, a longtime Sierra Club Water Sentinel, was among the more than 500 citizens who filled a local venue in Pueblo on March 16 to oppose Banner's plan. "The concerns about the health and environmental impacts of this project are real," he told the Pueblo County commissioners. "This is just an application, not a plan, being backed by a dubious sales pitch."
Fellow Fountain Creek Water Sentinel Michele Bobyn, a forensic biologist, said some of the testimony given by proponents of the nuclear plant glossed over the danger posed by spent fuel rods. She cited long-term studies of animals around the Savannah River plant in Georgia showing that they contain radioactive elements from the power plant. "There will be leakage," she advised the commissioners. "Maybe we should be doing baseline studies now on our exposure if we are going to be exposed to this for the long-term."’
Vincent says the hearing, which spilled over into March 17, was the largest ever in Pueblo. "The Sierra Club was at the heart of this coalition effort, but it wasn't a traditional coalition by any means. This was a genuine community uprising that crossed every conceivable boundary—Democrats and Republicans, farmers and city dwellers, conservationists and business people. One of the key local leaders was a real estate agent who lives near the proposed site. Now we want to capture this energy and push for a sustainable economic development plan for the Pueblo area."