Here is a story that has not yet been picked up outside of Texas that I find immensely interesting. George Chapman has formed a company named Amarillo Power that has notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intention to build two GE designed nuclear power plants on an unidentified site near Amarillo, Texas.
So far, you can only find the details of this story by reading the Amarillo Globe News which happens to have an excellent web site. I happily provided the site with sufficient personal information (which they promise to protect) to gain access to their series of articles about the project. The Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and KGBT 4 out of Harlingen, Texas made very brief mentions of the story, but have either not obtained any follow up information or believe that the story is not particularly newsworthy.
The picture painted by the Arlington Globe News about George Chapman leads me to believe that he just might be the leader of the project that delivers the first new nuclear power plant in the US since 1996.
Mr. Chapman is a real estate developer and cattle rancher, but he is a bit above average in both categories. His real estate holdings apparently include all but a small parcel of a 2200 acre block of land that was recently annexed into the city of Amarillo. His firm, G.R. Chapman Limited Partnership, owns much of the land along the north side of a stretch of I-40, which is apparently the path of new development in the city. His firm is the major force behind a large new subdivision called Woodlands and he is raising cattle on a “vast, rolling acreage” with several lakes. His cattle are not just any old cattle, they are a breed named Bonsmara that he imported from South Africa because he liked the way that they tasted and believes they will become big here in the US.
Some of his competitors in the electric utility business might wonder why a real estate developer would be interested in nuclear power, but I think that the combination works well. As I have pointed out in the past, nuclear plants are labor intensive and a guy who has a lot of developable lots needs people with good jobs to build houses, raise families, and contribute to local prosperity.
The part of his history that I find most interesting is that Mr. Chapman was a welder at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station and also worked for Bechtel, the architect-engineering firm that was involved in the construction of a large portion of the operating reactors in the US. Here is a quote from Karen Smith Welch’s article titled Developer chasing his grand plan
Chapman, who seems to have a smattering of information about everything and a strong opinion to go along with it, has repeatedly declined to talk about the power plant proposal.
On Tuesday, he broke his silence, touting nuclear energy as an environmentally safe alternative that would ease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
“Climbing under the table every time you hear ‘nuclear power’ is wrong. We use nuclear power every day of our lives,” Chapman said, noting nuclear technologies used in medicine and other fields.
“But nobody realizes it. Nobody talks about it. Nobody makes it simple enough that people can understand it.”
In other words, he just might know more about the technology that some of the lawyers and accountants that are currently running electric power utilities in the US.