In a major win for the Colorado Sierra Club and its coalition allies, the Pueblo County commissioners voted to reject a land use designation that would have locked in county approval of a proposed nuclear power plant.
"This decision should send a signal to nuclear speculators everywhere," says the Club’s Water Sentinel and Sangre de Cristo Group Chair Ross Vincent. "We're not interested. No more will Pueblo be the dumping ground for junk technology that smart communities don't want. We will fight newly-proposed nuclear power plants anywhere in Colorado."
Vincent was among the more than 500 citizens who filled a local venue in Pueblo on March 16 at the No Fools No Nukes Rally to oppose local lawyer Don Banner's plan. "The concerns about the health and environmental impacts of this project are real," Vincent told the Pueblo County commissioners. "This is just an application, not a plan, being backed by a dubious sales pitch."
Fellow Fountain Creek Water Sentinel Michele Bobyn, a forensic biologist, said some of the testimony given by proponents of the nuclear plant glossed over the danger posed by spent fuel rods. She cited long-term studies of animals around the Savannah River plant in Georgia showing that they contain radioactive elements from the power plant. "There will be leakage," she advised the commissioners. "Maybe we should be doing baseline studies now on our exposure if we are going to be exposed to this for the long-term."’
Vincent says the hearing was the largest ever in Pueblo. "The Sierra Club was at the heart of this coalition effort, but it wasn't a traditional coalition by any means. This was a genuine community uprising that crossed every conceivable boundary—farmers and city-dwellers, conservationists and business people. One of the key local leaders was a real estate agent who lives near the proposed site. Now we want to capture this energy and push for a sustainable economic development plan for the Pueblo area."
(Photo: No Fools No Nukes Rally. Courtesy of Lysandro Sandoval Filho from Puebloans for Smart Energy.)