NEW NUKES: The directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority announced recently that they plan to finish building the Bellefonte nuclear reactor in Hollywood, Ala. They spent mega-bucks on before dropping it in 1988 due to cost overruns and other factors, according to an Aug. 18 report by Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times (www.nytimes.com). The construction of the reactor is neccessary to meet growing power demands in their seven state service territory. The TVA says that equipping the coal-fired generators with government mandated anti-pollution equipment would be more expensive than building a new plant or finishing the Bellefonte, Wald reports. The reactor is not expected to be finished until 2018.
A bunch of politicians expressed their pleasure with the TVA’s decision to revive Bellefonte, which is located in Jackson County. One of those was Mo Brooks, a Republican member of the U.S House of Representatives from Huntsville. “Thousands of jobs are expected to be created in the construction of the reactor, and the completion of Bellefonte will mean safe, reliable and affordable energy for Tennessee Valley communities for decades,” Brooks said, according to a report by Hank Richards at www.examiner.com.
Some business people in Jackson County welcome the economic gain they believe the plant will bring, according to an Aug. 18 report by Tim Reid of WAAY-TV 31 in Huntsville (www.waaytv.com). Reid spoke to Nova Sisk, the manager of a hotel in Scottsboro. “It will be by far the best thing that’s ever happened to Jackson County for a long time” she said. “Just the business it will bring to the hotels, restaurants and stores here in town.”
The Gadsden Times (www.gadsdentimes.com) supported TVA’s plans in an Aug. 19 editorial. The paper cited the promised economic benefits of the project: “Completing the plant will open up about 2,800 construction jobs, plus there will be another 650 permanent jobs created once it goes online.” However, the paper recognizes people’s fears: “Can you say Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima? Statistics verify the safety of nuclear power and how such incidents are rare, and TVA officials say Bellefonte can withstand an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, but it’s hard to get folks to focus on numbers when radiation is involved.”
Some TVA directors have mixed feelings about reviving the nuke plant, according to Josh Flory, Knoxville News Sentinel (www.knoxnews.com) on Aug. 18. Board member Mike Duncan said the decision has been difficult for him because of such factors as the recent Japanese nuclear disaster.
“This has not been an easy process for any of us because there are risks involved,” Duncan said. Directors heard from dozens of people on both sides of the issue, according to Flory. Opponent Anna Haislip said that no matter how many times nuclear power proponents say it’s clean and safe, “it’s never, never, never going to be the truth.” Uniformed officers stopped several anti-nuke protesters in costume from entering the board meeting, Flory reported. The protesters, including one dressed as Santa Claus, instead demonstrated outside TVA’s downtown Knoxville, Tenn., offices.
According to an Aug. 16 report by WBIR-TV 10 (www.wbir.com) in Knoxville, “Some opposed to TVA’s plan to move forward on the Bellefonte nuclear plant have expressed their concern by wearing zombie costumes.” The metaphor seems to be a common one in the movement by environmental groups to stop Bellafonte, stemming from the fact that the half-finished plant has been scavenged for spare parts for years by the TVA. “The Bellefonte plant is truly a nuclear zombie, neither dead or alive,” Lou Zeller, science director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said, according to a July 27 report by Ken Bonner of The Daily Sentinel in Scottsboro (thedailysentinel.com). “Years ago vital parts were sold for scrap or transplanted to others. TVA should stop trying to revive this corpse of a power plant.”
For an in-depth look at the issue, check out an Aug. 15 report by Anne Paine of The Tennessean in Nashville (www.tennessean.com), “TVA at crossroads as it decides the future of the Bellefonte nuclear plant.” Even a recently appointed member of the TVA board who is an expert in energy efficiency and alternative energy supported the plant. “Ultimately, we’re going to need more renewables,” according to Marilyn Brown, a professor of energy policy at Georgia Tech. “I’ve always been pro-nuclear as an interim measure. For now, we really can’t live without nuclear while we wait for the price of renewables and alternatives to come down.”
DOG POOP IN THE AIR: That turd your neighbor’s stupid dog left behind on your lawn could give you disgusting air-borne bacteria, according to a new study reported Aug. 19 by www.msnbc.com. Samples in two cities, Cleveland and Detroit, indicated that in winter the most common bacteria in the air is from feces, probably from dog shit. Researchers from the University of Colorado want to extend their air sampling to cities across the country to see how widespread the bacteria might be. The team reported its findings in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
WILD FILM: The Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to Birmingham for a stop at WorkPlay, Thursday, Sept. 8. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the largest environmental film festival in the United States. The home event is organized and hosted by the South Yuba River Citizens League in Nevada City, Calif. The WSFF then goes on tour across America. Tickets are $10; VIP tickets are $25 and include food, beverage and a one-year membership in the Alabama Rivers Alliance and Alabama Environmental Council. For details, visit www.alabamarivers.org. Learn more about the WSFF at www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org.
GET BOILED: Landmark Park near Dothan will host its annual fundraiser, the Low Country Boil, September 15 at 6 p.m. Landmark is a 135-acre park built to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of southeast Alabama’s Wiregrass Region and features lots of participatory exhibits for kids and adults. The event will feature food, music and a silent auction. Advance tickets are required. Call (334) 794-3452 or visit landmarkpark.com.