Dr. Peter Rickards, Twin Falls, intends to drive to Payette County today to attend the Payette County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting where the board will consider a comprehensive plan amendment regarding a proposed nuclear power plant.
The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Payette High School auditorium, will be one of many Rickards, an opponent of nuclear power, has attended regarding power plant proposals by Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., which submitted the comprehensive plan amendment application.
“I’ve been tracking them since they moved to Owyhee County and claimed to have found the perfect nuclear power site,” Rickards said, adding he has also gotten involved in similar meetings in Elmore County.
He said he is interested to hear what AEHI CEO Don Gillispie has to say now about the power plant proposal in Payette County.
Rickards said he has numerous concerns about nuclear power in general and AEHI specifically and asserts that Gillispie has not told the truth on a number of matters that have been brought up in other areas, including his background, the cost of producing nuclear power as compared with other resources such as wind or geothermal power and the safety of nuclear power.
“I’m the kind of guy who likes to double checks things,” Rickards said.
He said, beyond the large nuclear power plant accidents in the past, there have been smaller problems at other plants that could have turned into disasters, specifically naming a power plant, Davis-Besse, in Ohio where he said a small leak was detected and then deliberately ignored. The Davis-Besse plant has faced a number of challenges since construction began on the facility in 1970.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported the Davis-Besse plant encountered several of the most dangerous types of nuclear miscues since the late 1970s.
Rickards said voters in Idaho and Payette County should be concerned about any nuclear power plant proposal.
“There are modern problems, and there are containment problems, and this is a gamble that Idaho does not need to take,” Rickards said.
Rickards said he also questions whether any power that was created would be sold to Idaho first, or whether the state would have to outbid others such as California for first take.
Rickards said, it would be different if Payette County and Idaho had no other alternate energy sources to draw from and nuclear power was the only option, but, as it is, that is not the case, he said. And, should a meltdown occur, it could cause widespread damage.
“Basically nuclear power is the only energy source that can cause the permanent evacuation of a widespread region such as southern Idaho,” he said.
He encourages people to attend tonight’s meeting and get involved because he does not think Payette County should be put on the frontlines again, nor should local residents be asked to compromise their safety or families.
Payette County Commissioner Larry Church said, however, the comprehensive plan amendment is just the first step of any kind of change. He said the County Planning and Zoning Commission will make some kind of a recommendation to the county commissioners, and, if a comprehensive plan amendment is finally approved, a rezone and platting will have to take place. For now, however, a comprehensive plan amendment only considers the best use for the land based on the rules. He said, if it gets to the rezone and platting process, the nature of the request and any subsequent concerns would become a bigger factor in any decision.
“You factor in all the testimony that you get, for and against, and try to make the best decision you can, I guess,” Church said. “I mean that’s all you can do.”
JESSICA KELLER, ARGUS OBSERVER – http://www.argusobserver.com/articles/2009/11/19/news/doc4b0588066a35f229277495.txt