Make us your home page

Public debates Progress Energy's plans for Levy County nuclear plant

Dozens of people streamed into a Citrus County conference center Thursday with a message for a panel of federal nuclear authorities: Don't allow Progress Energy to harm the state's aquifer and waterways with the construction of its planned Levy County power plant.

"We believe this is the wrong plant, in the wrong place and being paid for the wrong way," said Theodora Rusnak, president of the Citrus County Council, an organization of civic clubs, homeowners associations and environmental groups.

Opponents of the plant are contesting the project in a case before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, an arm of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that is reviewing the impact the two-reactor plant might have on things like wetlands, floodplains and the aquifer.

During two hearings Thursday in Crystal River, the panel of three judges invited the public to comment on remaining environmental concerns posed by the development of a 3,000-acre site for the Levy County project. Progress wants to spend $20 billion for two nuclear reactors that the company proposes to bring online starting in 2021.

More than 70 people attended the hearing.

"I've been doing this for eight years, and this is the largest number of people who have come forward," said administrative Judge Alex S. Karlin.

Not all of those who spoke opposed the plant.

John Siefert, Citrus County's economic development director, said that despite some of the criticism, Progress has been a good corporate citizen, helping to protect environmental interests in the county where its only existing nuclear plant sits idle because of damage to the reactor building.

"We applaud Progress Energy for what they've done in the past," Siefert said.

Michael Lecanto, a retired reactor operator at Crystal River and other nuclear plants, said Progress' plans for the Levy County project are safer because it is not located on the coast like the Crystal River reactor is.

"I think Progress should be commended for a more inland location," Lecanto said at the hearing. "I see this as a more friendly design for the environment."

But opponents said construction of the two reactors includes plans to dig 100 feet into the ground for the foundation of the plant, which threatens the Cross Florida Barge Canal, the aquifer, and aquatic life.

Mandy Hancock, a Gainesville resident and high-risk energy organizer for the South Alliance for Clean Energy, said plans for fresh groundwater for the plant will "have large impacts on surrounding water resources."

The hearing is part of the NRC's review of Progress' application for an operating license for the plant. The NRC is expected to make a decision on the application sometime in 2013.

Public debates Progress Energy's plans for Levy County nuclear plant 01/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2012 9:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]