ST. GEORGE – Today a new chapter in The Blue Castle Group’s attempt to bring nuclear power to Utah will begin as Judge George Harmond of the 7th District Court hears testimony in a case appealing water rights given the company, the trial will determine the company’s right to use water from the Green River.
The San Juan County and Kane County Water Conservancy districts, Blue Castle Holdings, and State Engineer will present testimony on Monday and Tuesday while experts and attorneys for the plaintiffs will present testimony on Wednesday.
The proposed nuclear site is “located about five miles west-northwest of Green River, Utah, in Emery County” according to the company’s website. In 2012 State Engineer Kent Jones awarded the Blue Castle Group water rights from the Green River in order to cool its two nuclear reactors. This decision allows the Blue Castle Group to use up to 1.74 billion gallons of water each year.
“That’s enough water to supply a city of 200,000 people,” policy director for HEAL Utah, Matt Pacenza, said. “it is a tremendous amount of water.”
The plaintiffs, Uranium Watch, Living Rivers, Sierra Club, Utah Rivers Council, HEAL Utah, two Green River recreation companies and several individuals will appeal the state’s decision on the grounds that the Blue Castle Group failed to provide sufficient evidence that the nuclear plant is a physically and financially feasible project. The proof of feasibility is crucial for the state to award water rights because it prevents Utah from allocating water rights to risky and speculative business ventures.
When Utah State Engineers awarded the rights in 2012 they concluded that the Blue Castle Group displayed satisfactory evidence. The plaintiffs disagree.
Some of these plaintiffs also raise concern about negative effects on business downriver from the plant and the environment. Others also raise the question of public safety.
The Blue Castle Group has yet to publicize who it will be selling power to, but it contends that the market exists.
If the Blue Castle Group wins the appeal, it will then begin the $100 million process of receiving a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the hopes of constructing the plant by 2016 and beginning energy production in 2020.
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Ed. clarification: Hearings herein are the trial in the case of HEAL Utah, et al., v. Kane County Water Conservancy District, et al., in which the plaintiffs appeal the state engineer’s approval of change applications involving water rights.
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