The public got to voice concerns Wednesday evening about the proposal to build an energy park and nuclear power plant in Southern Colorado. Pueblo County Commissioners are considering a proposal to build the plant southeast of Pueblo.
“Please be very careful as you try to understand the implications of the decisions you've been asked to make,” said one concerned citizen to county commissioners, adding, ”Concerns about potential impacts on human health and the environment are real, but there will also be political, economic and social consequences for the decisions that you make,” said one concerned citizen.”
Right now commissioners are just considering the re-zoning of the space in which the Colorado Clean Energy Park would be built. It would be on 24,000 acres between the towns of Avondale and Fowler, south of Highway 50. Along with a nuclear plant, the plan is for solar power and wind power. It’s a $5.5 billion proposal, which includes a 3,000 megawatt nuclear plant.
Wednesday night was set aside for public comment; most citizens seemed hesitant and opposed to energy park proposal, saying nuclear power is dangerous, expensive and bad for our community.
Tuesday, the local lawyer proposing the project, Don Banner, got to make his voice heard by county leaders, along with 20 other people who support the project.
"We need electric energy for future growth," Banner said Tuesday. "The ground on which this [Colorado Clean Energy Park] is located is ideally suited for this," Banner added.
Banner said nuclear power is clean, efficient and safe, despite the current crisis in Japan. Banner said the plant there was built in the 60s, in an area where there was known seismic activity and that the Pueblo plant would be in a much safer location.
But for neighbors like Suzanne Morgan, who live near the proposed site, the risk just seems too great. "This is where we live and this is where we raise our children," Morgan said.
She and others against the proposal have been wearing yellow ribbons at the meetings to show their opposition. "It seems like the east side of Pueblo near Boone and Avondale is just a dumping ground for Colorado," Morgan said.
But, according to Don Banner, the nuclear power plant is essential for the economic development of Pueblo County. He said along with more energy and tax revenue it would bring hundreds of construction jobs and permanent positions to Southern Colorado.
Right now, county commissioners are only considering re-zoning of the land’s use. The commissioners have 15 days to vote on the zoning change that would allow the project.
This is just the first of many stages this project would have to get through before being built. If approved, construction wouldn’t even begin until 2019.