Officials Seek Public Comments on Proposed Comanche Peak Expansion

Monday, January 05, 2009
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Jan. 5-- Government officials want to know what potential harm could result from a proposed expansion to the Comanche Peak nuclear power facility near Glen Rose.

They will hold two meetings Tuesday to hear from the public what issues they should consider in an upcoming review.

Luminant, which operates two nuclear reactors at Comanche Peak, is seeking permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two more reactors there. The plant is in Somervell County, about 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

"This meeting is essentially the start of our environmental review for the application at Comanche Peak," said Scott Burnell, regulatory commission spokesman. "This is the public's opportunity to let us know what they think needs to be looked at in the environmental review."

Commission staff members are also looking at the reactor design being proposed for Comanche Peak. It will likely be about three years before the commission decides whether to allow the expansion, he said.

The proposal

In September, Luminant, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings Corp., formerly TXU Corp., submitted an application to the regulatory commission to build two reactors. The new 1,700-megawatt units would produce enough energy to power about 1.8 million average Texas homes, according to the company.

Luminant officials estimate that the expansion would have a $22 billion economic impact.

Critics of the proposed expansion say nuclear power is too expensive and dangerous. Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition based in Austin, said energy efficiency and renewable resources such as solar and wind power are better options.

Public input

Tuesday's meetings will be from 1 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. at the Glen Rose Expo Center, 202 Bo Gibbs Blvd. in Glen Rose. Each meeting will be preceded by a one-hour "open house." If you have not already signed up to speak at a meeting, you must show up early and register to speak at least five minutes before the meeting starts.

Commission staff will also take written comments about the scope of the environmental review through Feb. 17. E-mails can be sent to Letters should be sent to Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001.

What's next?

Commission staffers will spend several months compiling a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed expansion. The public will then be given an opportunity to comment on it.


TRACI SHURLEY, 817-548-5494

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