Bitter Waters | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Bitter Waters

Artist Martha Ferris and husband and playwright Kos Kostmayer of Vicksburg believe we're in danger. Since 1985, we have lived in the shadows of Entergy's Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant in Port Gibson, which provides a third of the state's power and creates about $20 million in tax revenue. The couple warns it also poses a grave risk of both security breaches and serious accidents such as the April 26, 1986, Chernobyl nuclear-power meltdown. They want to "alert the public about what Entergy is up to, who's footing the bill, and the incredible hazards of building a second nuclear reactor in our back yard poses," as Ferris wrote in an e-mail.

This summer, Entergy is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to allow it to build a second reactor at the Grand Gulf plant—ostensibly doubling the risks, the radioactive waste and the number of vehicles, trains and barges transporting that nuclear waste through the region.
In late May, the Vicksburg couple played host to Paul Gunter, the director of the Nuclear Reactor Watchdog Project in Washington, D.C.

At the Eudora Welty Library on May 28, he attempted to dissect the specifics of a very complex subject so lay folks could understand it. He made several vital points: 1) The nuclear power industry has trouble competing in the free market without massive taxpayer subsidization: $145 billion to date directly, and $500 billion indirectly. 2) Both the nuclear industry and the government has prioritized the need for electricity production over safety concerns. 3) The industry has not produced a scientifically approved long-term management plan for "its growing mountain of nuclear waste." 4) The government in increasingly hiding the nuclear-energy review process from public view. 5) The consequences of a nuclear accident or deliberate sabotage are "unacceptable."
A congressional investigation found in 1982 that the costs of a Grand Gulf accident could run as high as $82 billion (in 1982; about $164 billion today). It also estimated 4,500 non-cancer fatalities during the first year, followed by 10,000 radiation re-lated injuries and 3,800 cancers.

Entergy maintains that Grand Gulf "is one of the safest places in the nation,"as a spokesman told The Clarion-Ledger.

Gunter is more ominous. At the end of his presentation, he told the story of a Russian historian who spoke out after the disaster. The historian opened a Bible to the Book of Revelations, Chapter 8, and read from Verses 10 and 11: "And the Third Angel trumpeted, and there fell a great Star fell, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon a third of the rivers and mountains of water; And the name of the Star is Wormwood. And the third part of the waters were made bitter, and many men died because the waters were made bitter." The historian then revealed that the Ukrainian word for "wormwood" is ... "chornobyl."

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