Why We Fight: Anti-Nuke Victory in Florida Serves as Reminder

14 Aug

by Panagioti / Earth First! News

Rainbow Springs

Two organizers who fought for the waters, plants and creatures of the Nature Coast, enjoying the source springs of Rainbow River.

Geologists estimate that there are more than 700 springs in Florida, representing the largest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth.

Most of these springs are concentrated in the northwestern portion of the peninsula, known as The Nature Coast, the heart of which was poised for clearing thousands of acres of forest and wetlands for one of the first proposals of the nuclear Renaissance. 

When Earth First! activists in Florida joined with local land owners and organizers around the state four years ago, it was hard to envision how victory could actually come about in the face of nukes being presented as the only alternative to fossil fuel.

Today, thanks to social pressure and crumbling economies, there is a renewed trend: from Georgia to California, nukes are on their way out again—even ones that were already under construction.

Let this be a lesson to those who are prone to the dilemma of Albert Markovski. (“Maybe I should quit. Don’t quit. Maybe I should just fucking quit. Don’t fucking quit…”)

Excerpts below from a statement by an organizer with NIRS, who were an “intervening party” on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s permit in Levy, gives a bit more of the nitty-gritty:  

Thanks to the failure of Duke Energy and the collaborative work of many people and organizations, The Nature Coast of Florida is now nuclear-free—and will hopefully stay that way! (Well, there is still radioactive contamination, waste and a huge contaminated facility from the Crystal River nuke plant has been shut down but still sitting there).

Happily the one “greenfield site” in the pack of new reactor proposals—the first to appear in over 40 years—will not be a nuclear power plant. At least not any time soon.

A view of the water at Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon, FL.

A view of the water at Rainbow Springs in Dunnellon, FL.

This site is within 20 miles of the Rainbow River Springs, some of the most amazing water anywhere. Tragically, the site may still be used for a gas power plant by Duke.

Nationwide, the nuclear “Renaissance” is proving to be total illusion—over the last 5 years  all but 4 of the proposed new reactors have been put on hold or defeated. This summer older reactors including Crystal River have been dropping like flies too—Kewaunee in Wisconsin, San Onofre 1 & 2 in California have all closed suddenly for safety and economic reasons.

The fight in the Nature Coast has resulted in Duke Energy canceling large reactor component orders, the contract with the engineering firm that Progress Energy had made with Shaw Group (now CB&I) and Westinghouse—now a Japanese-based arm of Toshiba Corp before the Progress / Duke merger. Duke also negotiated an exit “contract” with the Florida Public Utility Commission, in which the Duke electric power customers will likely continue to pay more than $1 billion for Levy and Crystal River even though no power will be produced (pure cost recovery for a really bad set of business decisions)…

Unfortunately Duke has not (yet) dropped out of the nuclear license game—and they can sit on the shelf for up to 20 years… So those who have fought the monster of 2 nuclear reactors in Levy County cannot stop yet. Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and the Ecology Party of Florida have done the heavy lifting on the federal nuclear license, and NIRS vows to continue! Ecology Party continues to oppose the Army Corps of Engineers permits.

More info on the fight at the state utility commission level here

More on NIRS work to challenge the nuclear license here

 

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