I have to learn better prep skills – my video camera battery ran dry before the entertainment really started at last night’s public meeting regarding the environmental impact statement and construction and operating license application for Dominion Resource’s North Anna Unit 3.
After leaving my Arlington, VA office just after 5, it took me a while to get to the meeting – Mineral, VA is about 80 miles southwest of DC and requires a bit of planning if you want to get there in the evening. Fortunately, I have a couple of colleagues who “slug” so I was able to buzz down the HOV lane to just south of Quantico. Finally, at about 7:20, I arrived and signed in on the list of people who wanted to speak. Since the meeting started at 6:30, I was the last on the list, and it was a long list.
Each of the speakers were allotted 5 minutes; some used up the entire time and seemed like they were there for 10-15 minutes – you know the type. The first guy went on and on about various issues he had with the process, the EIS, the early site permit, and the fact that the ESP approval would last 20 years and just might be used to license and build a 4th unit. The moderator had a bit of a challenge with his “hooK” to get the guy off the podium – he did not take a hint when the moderator tapped his microphone and then cleared his throat. That is one technique used in debate – never surrender the floor until forced away.
Other speakers did a good job talking about the economic benefits of the plant, the need for balanced energy supplies, and the fact that Dominion has been a good, supportive corporate neighbor for many years.
Some lakeside residents expressed their concern that the new facility might have an effect on lake levels, despite the fact that Dominion has agreed to an expensive cooling tower solution to minimize impact. Another speaker brought in the deed that he signed when he bought his house on the lake a couple of decades ago and read off the clause that has existed on every deed on every piece of property sold on the lake where the owner agrees that VEPCO (Virginia Electric Power Company- one of the corporate ancestors of Dominion Resources) has the right to use the lake that it created as the heat sink for its power plants, originally planned as Units 1-4 of a facility generating more than 4000 MW of clean, reliable electricity. That clause specifically mentions raising and lowering lake levels as one of the expected effects.
Several retired gentlemen with long careers in the power generation industry spoke as did a man who I found out was a retired NRC regulator. The NRC guy’s talk was amusing in a very subtle way – he sounded almost like a critic until he offered the suggestions that Dominion could prevent any issue with lake levels by two techniques that would not cost a dime. He said they could raise the target lake level during normal operations by 3 inches and they could act to moderately restrict flow through the dam at a level 2 inches higher than their current guidelines to restrict flow. Anyone listening closely would recognize that such techniques would have no impact since any lake has much wider variations in level than that.
The real amusing events occurred about 2 hours after the meeting started. A young lady from Charlottesville – my guess is that she was a student at UVA – came down with a young man who pealed off and sat down near the podium. She stated that she wanted to dramatize the relationship between Dominion and the NRC and asked for a crowd volunteer. Not surprisingly the young man raised his hand immediately and was called up to the stage. After taping signs on each other’s back with NRC and Dominion written on them, the two engaged in a passionate embrace with what looked like a fair amount of spit swapping. The crowd laughed – a bit uncomfortably as the kiss continued.
Then there was the heavily bearded “geek” character with the coke bottle bottom eye glasses who brought up a little paper model he claimed was a power plant and read off a bunch of statements about how much he was looking forward to having the plant around. He finished off with a red light in the middle of his model and an “oops, sorry about that” implying that his little power plant had had an “issue”.
(To be continued – gotta go to work)