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by Snake River Alliance
Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 at 8:09 PM
Plans are underway by Areva Corporation to build a centrifuge uranium enrichment facility near Idaho Falls, ID. The state government of Idaho has given Areva, a French corporation, significant tax breaks to help them overcome any obstacles that may delay the permits for construction of this plant. Public comment is needed to prevent this nuclear bomb making facility from being built.
This is another one of those (inter)national nuclear issues that could effect people far outside of the direct region of the facility, as the depleted uranium waste remaining following the centrifuge uranium enrichment process will need an off-site disposal location. While our U.S. government is very vocal about their opinions of Iran's centrifuge uranium enrichment programs, here is a domestic centrifuge uranium enrichment facility is being planned without any critical analysis from our otherwise vocal government officials. We cannot expect to influence the choices made by other nations like Iran concerning centrifuge uranium enrichment when we plan to do the exact same thing. Hypocrisy gets no respect from the global community, certainly it is not a justification for winning a Nobel Peace Prize!!
Talking points for public comment on Areva's centrifuge uranium enrichment facility from SRA;
"1) A giant company owned by the French government wants to build a centrifuge uranium enrichment plant near Idaho Falls, and the State of Idaho has already given Areva substantial tax breaks. Idaho taxpayers are unwittingly backing an increased threat of nuclear weapons proliferation.
Consider: The Federation of American Scientists calls enriching uranium with gas centrifuges “an open road to a nuclear weapon.” That’s because a plant enriching uranium to 4% for a power reactor can be easily converted to enrich it to 20% or more for bombs. Furthermore, if the plant starts with power reactor uranium, more than half the work toward a bomb has already been done.
We shouldn’t be encouraging a foreign company to compromise our own nuclear security.
2) Does our country really need Areva’s uranium enrichment plant?
One of the most successful agreements between the United States and Russia to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons is called the Megatons to Megawatts program. So far, the 1993 agreement has led to the downblending of 367 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU;, bomb grade) to low enriched uranium (LEU, reactor grade). That’s enough to fuel a single reactor for 425 years. The United States Enrichment Corporation sells the LEU to US reactor operators, and it’s claimed that in the past several years, 10% of US electricity has come from retired USSR nuclear bombs.
The original Megatons to Megawatts agreement covers 500 metric tons of Russian bomb grade uranium. Experts estimate Russia may have an additional 350 metric tons of bomb grade uranium. And how about the US? Shouldn’t we be getting rid of our bomb grade enriched uranium before we give giant subsidies to a foreign company to enrich more uranium?
3) Barack Obama recently addressed the United Nations to outline a course toward a nuclear weapons free world. But Mr. Obama doesn’t have to go to the UN to make a real dent in the nuclear peril. Right now, a significant fraction of our bomb grade uranium that’s been declared excess is still in assembled weapons. Mr. Obama should insist that our own government make real progress toward “blending down” bomb grade enriched uranium to reactor grade. The reactor grade enriched uranium can be used to fuel current nuclear reactors and, more important, we get rid of a weapons ingredient.
4) Even though Iran claims it’s enriching uranium for nuclear power, the international community is justifiably concerned. A plant for reactor uranium can be converted in a matter of months to one for nuclear bomb uranium. On September 9 Glyn Davies, US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, voiced that concern by saying Iran has “possible breakout capacity” if it chooses to enrich its uranium stockpile.
Here at home, Areva, a nuclear company owned by the French government, has already gotten tax breaks from the State of Idaho and may soon get a sweetheart billion loan guarantee from the federal government. I don’t feel good that we might be underwriting a plant that can do exactly what we don’t want other countries to do. Let’s do as we say.
5) I don’t support nuclear power. Its price tag and lead time make it a radically inefficient way to respond to the threat of global warming by reducing carbon emissions. And I’m also worried about the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. That’s why I oppose giving French-owned Areva permission to build a uranium enrichment plant in Idaho.
One of the best ways you can help us stop Areva is to inform other Idahoans of the risks associated with uranium enrichment through letter to the editor of the state's major paper. Please review the sample letter below and submit a letter of your own, or a similar letter to one or all of the following papers:
The Idaho Statesman
Letters to the Editor
P.O. Box 40
Boise, ID 83707
editorial [at] idahostatesman.com
PO Box 1800
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83403
letters [at] postregister.com
132 Fairfield St. West
James G. Wright
letters [at] magicvalley.com
Idaho State Journal
Ian H. Fennell, Editor
305 S. Arthur
Pocatello, ID 83204
editor [at] journalnet.com
Tips for LTE writing
• Make your point quickly.
• Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Letters without this information are not accepted.
• Expect a call to confirm that you are the author of the letter."
Thank you for your time and effort. Please do let us know if you write a letter by emailing:
lwoodruff [at] snakeriveralliance.org
further Areva info found @;
In related domestic nuclear news, the U.S. corporation Alternative Energy Holdings, Inc. that was planning to build a nuclear reactor in Bruneau along the Snake River has grown impatient with delays in Elmore County's zoning laws and is trying to relocate to another county that would give them easy access with less scrutiny. However, only a week after announcing that AEH Inc. was seeking a new location, they filed their Form 10-Q with U.S. SEC indicating serious financial difficulties for the corporation;
"Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., the developer of a proposed nuclear reactor in Elmore County on Snake River farmland, filed its Form 10-Q with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, and the report paints a grim picture of a company in obvious distress just a week after it announced it’s looking for another county or even state lands for the project.
The company reached two big milestones, according to the SEC filing: It has now issued more than 100 million shares of stock (but has only 8,000 in cash or cash equivalents on hand to show for it), and it has run up a total deficit since coming to Idaho of .1 million. The report included this gloomy prognosis:
“We do not have capital sufficient to meet our cash needs. We will have to seek loans or equity placements to cover such case needs. Once exploration commences, our needs for additional financing is likely to increase substantially. No commitments to provide additional funds have been made by our management or other stockholders. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that any additional funds will be available to us to allow it to cover our expenses as they may be incurred.”
Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said AEHI's filing was not unexpected.
"This company is in no condition to be shopping its alleged nuclear reactor around Elmore County or anywhere else in Idaho," Shipley said. "Today's filing shows AEHI lacks the financial resources, the hope of any resources in the future, and most important the credibility to be running around Idaho peddling a reactor scheme that nobody believes will ever be built."
In a related item, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was quoted in the Twin Falls Times News as saying AEHI CEO Don Gillispie may have been too enthusiastic in characterizing the senator’s pro-nuclear comments as quoted in an AEHI release. AEHI said Sen. Crapo’s response to a radio call-in question suggested Elmore County residents should pressure the County Commission to approve AEHI’s rezoning request (last week we reported on the State Department of Lands refuting Mr. Gillispie’s claim that the state had offered AEHI lands for the reactor). Here’s what the Times News reported on Sen. Crapo’s comments and AEHI’s backpedaling off its news release:
“While AEHI's release interpreted Crapo's remarks as a "boost" to the company's efforts, Crapo disagreed slightly with such an interpretation on Thursday, telling the Times-News that he was trying to speak more to the role citizens play in local control than advocate for one specific plant.
"I think they kind of took it - they took it another step, I think," Crapo said.
The senator also backed off from his statement about whether Elmore County residents support the plant, saying he's received "sporadic" comments about the matter but not enough to be able to say firmly whether residents support the idea.
"It has not been all one-sided," Crapo said.
AEHI representatives did not return calls from the Times-News on Thursday. CEO Don Gillispie stated in the press release simply that "Senator Crapo continues to show strong support for commercial nuclear power in the U.S. Senate and in Idaho while understanding the importance of local control in nuclear plant siting."
AEHI’s SEC 10-Q can be found at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1421874/000106594909000146/aehi10qjune09vfinal.txt"
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