Judge to hear appeal of proposed nuclear plant’s water rights
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
Sep 19, 2013 | 2314 views | 0 0 comments | 519 519 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Did the Utah State Engineer’s office fail to uphold state law when it approved a company’s water rights applications for a proposed nuclear power plant in Emery County?

Seventh District Judge George Harmond will consider that question throughout next week, when he reviews an appeal that seeks to overturn a 2012 ruling in support of developer Blue Castle Holdings.

The bench trial, which is open to the public, is scheduled to run from Monday, Sept. 23 through Monday, Sept. 30 at Seventh District Court of Carbon County in Price, 149 East 100 South.

The plaintiffs, including Moab-based Uranium Watch and Living Rivers, are asking Judge Harmond to overturn a decision that allows the proposed Blue Castle Project to use 53,600-acre-feet – or more than 1.74 billion gallons – of water each year.

The plaintiffs are also urging the judge to reject two change applications that transfer the amount from two water conservancy districts to the proposed site about four miles west of the town of Green River.

The complaint seeks judicial relief on the grounds that Blue Castle Holdings allegedly failed to show that its plan to build the 3,000-megawatt facility is physically or economically feasible.

They say the court should also overturn the decision because Blue Castle Holdings did not prove that it has the financial wherewithal to finish the project. Blue Castle also failed to show that its plan is not speculative, opponents allege.

The plaintiff’s also allege that Blue Castle is unable to demonstrate that its plans would not have an unreasonable impact on the natural stream environment, recreation or the public welfare, according to court documents.

State Engineer Kent Jones’ January 2012 ruling expressed confidence that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will address any health- and safety-related issues that may come up in the future.

According to Jones, there is reason to believe that a nuclear power plant will not be detrimental to the public’s welfare, since it would be built and operated in line with the NRC’s licensing regulations.

Based on information that Blue Castle submitted to his office, Jones found it unlikely that the proposed facility’s water usage would impact recreational rafting activities along the Green River.

He also ruled that the company filed its applications in good faith.

State law does not require Blue Castle to have all of the funds it would need in order to develop the project, and the company demonstrated the ability to secure as-needed funding, Jones ruled.

For more information about the project, go to: http://www.bluecastleproject.com/.

To learn more about the water rights appeals or opposition to the project, visit: www.uraniumwatch.org, or go to: http://healutah.org/nuclearutah/energy/greenriverreactors.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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