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Fight against Green River Nuclear Plant boils down to water

PRICE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – The battle over whether nuclear power comes to Utah may boil down to water. The first day of testimony in the appeal case to overturn the State of Utah’s decision to approve water rights for the proposed Green River nuclear reactor was heard in a Price courtroom.
PRICE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – The battle over whether nuclear power comes to Utah may boil down to water. The first day of testimony in the appeal case to overturn the State of Utah’s decision to approve water rights for the proposed Green River nuclear reactor was heard in a Price courtroom.

The state approved water rights for 53,000 acre feet of water for Blue Castle Holdings to use yearly for their proposed plant on the Green River. It’s estimated that’s enough water to sustain a town of about 200,000 people.

Blue Castle’s President and CEO Aaron Tilton told ABC 4 Utah, “We leased the water from Kane County Conservatory District and San Juan County.” Tilton says the water rights were supposed to be used years ago for coal fire power plants that were never built.

Monday, former state engineer Jerry Olds testified for Blue Castle that those water rights can and should be used because Utah currently isn’t using all the water it’s allotted. On the stand he explained that per the Colorado River Compact Utah is entitled to 1.4 million acre feet of water per year. As of 2005, the state was only utilizing about a million acre feet per year.

HEAL Utah, one of the agencies appealing Blue Castle’s water rights, says just because the water is allotted doesn’t mean it’s going to be available in the future.

HEAL Utah’s Policy Director Matt Pacenza told ABC 4 Utah, “No on denies that there has been a lot of water which has been awarded to various entities, the question is is there enough water actually in the river and that’s where the debate comes in.”

The plaintiffs’ experts haven’t taken the stand yet, but they’re expected later this week to argue that in drought years, in low flow years or as a result of climate change there may not be enough water in the Green River in the future to meet the plant’s demands and the needs of other water users.

Pacenza said, “We just think that nuclear power is a poor choice for Utah’s energy future. It uses too much water, costs too much money and it poses risks and we don’t need it.”

Blue Castle argues as Utah’s population, and those of surrounding states, grows so will the demand for energy.

“Envision Utah, I believe, they project our population will double by about 2050,” said Tilton. “So I don’t know anybody else who thinks electricity isn’t going to be needed. In fact, households continue to use more electricity per household not less.”

The other big question in court Monday was whether Blue Castle will have the money needed to apply for a license. Right now, it appears, they are 40 to 50 million dollars short, but the company says they have time. Tilton says if the appeals process goes their way the earliest construction could begin would be after 2017.

For more information log on to: http://www.abc4.com/mostpopular/story/Green-River-water-rights-trial-to-begin-Monday/op5kZYwi4kCbusX0hPtEVA.cspx
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