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Blue Castle Nuclear Project, Emery County, Utah

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Nuclear

OPPOSITION:  HEAL Utah; Center for Biological Diversity

PROSPECTS:  Indeterminate 

BACKGROUND:  In October 2007, the private equity group Transition Power Development announced interest in building a nuclear power plant in the Green River, Utah area.  At the time, Rocky Mountain Power Corp. estimated that by 2014, an additional 1,700 megawatts of baseload power will be needed in Utah.  Power from the plant would go to Utah and surrounding states.  Transition Power quickly entered into water leases with affected counties.  On December 15, 2008, the Emery County Commission approved a zoning change to help move forward with the project.  In September 2009, Transition Power and several other investors merged into Blue Castle Holdings, Inc., the developer of the Blue Castle Project.

The tentative plan for the Blue Castle Project is a 3,000-megawatt plant with on-site spent fuel storage.  Early cost estimates are around $10.5 billion.  Reactor designs have not been chosen.

Early tension largely focused on water usage and rights, and its effect on wildlife.  The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) formally protested the site’s water-rights application.  CBD’s protest raises concerns about the lack of information provided to the public about the use of 29,600 acre-feet of water, and how the water diversion will be consistent with the need to protect river flows and habitat conditions critical for the survival of imperiled plants and animals in the vicinity of the power plant’s footprint, including endangered fish.  At the site of the proposed nuclear power plant and cooling pond, CBD claims three rare plant species are found: the San Rafael cactus, Maguire’s daisy, and Jones’s cycladenia. All are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Blue Castle Holdings originally planned to submit initial applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in late 2010.  However, Blue Castle now plans to submit an Early Site Permit Application to the NRC in 2011 and a combined construction and operating license application (COL) about 18 months later.

SOURCES:   Blue Castle Project Web Site (http://bluecastleproject.com/News___Press_.html);
The Energy Collective (http://theenergycollective.com/djysrv/38990/utah%E2%80%99s-blue-castle-project-gets-30-million);
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/new-licensing-files/expected-new-rx-applications.pdf);
Center for Biological Diversity (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/green-river-05-27-2009.html);
HEAL Utah (http://healutah.org/nuclearutah/energy/greenriverreactors);
Utah Stories (http://www.utahstories.com/nuclear_tilton_HEAL.htm).

Last Updated:  November 4, 2010