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No, No, No! – No Nuclear Power Plant in Muscatine County, Iowa

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photo source: http://muscatinejournal.com/news/local/nuclear-power-plant-would-be-a-long-way-off/article_faff8dac-076c-11e2-8f83-001a4bcf887a.html

photo source: http://muscatinejournal.com/news/local/nuclear-power-plant-would-be-a-long-way-off/article_faff8dac-076c-11e2-8f83-001a4bcf887a.html

In 2010, the Iowa Legislature signed into law a bill that essentially reimbursed Mid American Energy (a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.) $15 million to study the feasibility of building a nuclear power plant in Iowa. Since that bill was passed, Mid American Energy has quietly studied the land, and has been paid to do so by the citizens of Iowa.

Last fall, Mid American Energy announced that their study netted two locations for further study: rural Wilton in Muscatine County (five miles from my home) and close to the Mississippi River, and Fremont County in Western Iowa along the Missouri River.

In September of last year, Mid American bought two houses in our local area and also entered into signed land option deals with the owners of another 778 or so acres, according to the Muscatine Journal. They also invited land owners and nearby property owners to a closed meeting at that time and announced their intentions. One home that they bought was vacant at the time, and the owners say they were not told who was buying their property and were shocked when they found out the purpose. Mid American officials claim they needed land options so they would be able to take soil samples, and they claimed they bought the houses because they happened to be on the market and were reasonably priced.

Despite having purchased land however, Mid American maintains they have NO intentions to build a nuclear power plant near my hometown. They claim they are only doing as directed by the 2010 Iowa Legislature: studying the feasibility of nuclear power in Iowa. Over and over at an informational meeting organized by SAFE (Saving America’s Farmland & Environment) that took place Tuesday, March 26, Mid American officials claimed they are only trying to answer three questions:

  1. Is there a suitable site in Iowa for a nuclear power plant?
  2. Is nuclear power an environmentally safe option?
  3. Does nuclear power make economic sense?

They repeatedly claimed to have NO intentions to build any nuclear power plant in Iowa. But they are buying our farmland.


I went to the meeting on Tuesday and I was amazed at the turnout! We are a community of under 3,000 people, yet our Community Center was packed – with people, TV cameras, and police. First SAFE made a presentation, and then Mid American made their “rebuttal” if you will. After the SAFE and Mid American presentations, the meeting was opened to the floor for questions. The 450 or so people in attendance at this meeting asked very good questions. For instance: {The questions and answers are not word for word as I did not tape the meeting and my comments are inside brackets like these.}

Q1. Since the local county supervisors are in charge of changing land zoning, will they have final say in whether or not this agricultural land is rezoned to allow for a nuclear power plant?

A1. We do not know the answer to that question. {My interpretation, read up on eminent domain – no way will local people have a say in this decision unless we kill it NOW. And Mid American very well knows that.}


Q2. Who will reimburse me for loss of my property in the event of catastrophic nuclear meltdown since NO private insurance in the entire United States covers such loss?

A2. That’s why we have liability insurance. {But it took over 20 years to settle all losses after 3 Mile Island}.

Q3. Why should we believe you when you say you’ll run a nuclear power plant in a safe manner, when you just settled with the Sierra Club for EPA violations at coal fired plants? How can we trust you with nuclear power plants if we can’t trust you with coal?

A3.  We didn’t admit to any wrong doing in that settlement. We only settled for changes we intended to make anyway.

Q4. How can you say that solar energy is not an option due to insufficient solar capacity in Iowa, when Germany, which has less solar capacity than we have here, powers four cities entirely by solar?

A4. We didn’t say solar wasn’t an option {Yes, they did. I was there and heard them.} But we can tell you that Germans pay 6x more for their energy than we pay here in Iowa. {Guilty of a logical fallacy, Mid American. The two items do not follow or compare.}

Q5. Why are there requirements to keep nuclear power plants away from population centers? {What makes the 3,000 people here different from the 250,000 people somewhere else?}

A5. No answer. {Because there aren’t as many of you.}

At the end of the meeting, Jeff Kaufmann, retired Iowa House Representative, lambasted the two Mid American Energy representatives. Kaufmann said that he was part of the Iowa House in 2010 when the bill was passed and Mid American is doing a lousy job of fulfilling the intentions of that bill. No where does the bill specify to put options to purchase our farm land. The bill also asked for transparency of intentions, at which Kaufmann said Mid American is failing miserably. And finally, Kaufmann came very close to saying that Mid American is being deliberately deceitful to the residents of Muscatine County. Instead of answering questions, they claim they maintain no plans to build a nuclear facility. Meanwhile, they plan away and when they finally do admit plans, it will be too late for us to fight, and their lawyers will bury any of us who try.

So why I am telling you all of this and why should you care?

IMG_4750These are the evacuation zones – grouped by 10 miles, 25 miles, and 50 miles. {For reference, a 50 mile circle was evacuated after the recent meltdown in Japan.} If you live in Iowa, take a look at all of the cities that are included at that 50 mile circle! Iowa City? Yes. Cedar Rapids? Yes. Quad Cities? Yes. Clinton? Yes. Maquoketa? Muscatine? Yes and Yes. And not just Iowa! This map also includes Western Illinois: Galesburg, Monmouth, and Geneseo. If you live in these areas, you ought to care.

And this is only the map for our potential site, in Eastern Iowa. The map for Freemont County in Western Iowa would surely include cities in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska. And beyond that, the last nuclear power plant was built in 1996. There is another one slated to begin operation in Tennessee in 2013, but come on. In a time when countries are phasing OUT nuclear power and phasing IN green options, why aren’t we?

Who wants to live next to a nuclear power plant? Not me.

Who wants to store the waste that remains radioactive and hazardous for 240,000 years? Not me.

Who wants their home and land destroyed by a catastrophic melt down? Not me.

 Who wants any exposure to radioactive material from nuclear power plants?? Certainly not me.

It’s time to wake up. Reduce consumption. Install your own passive solar cells and generate your own power. Pursue green energy options like Germany.

Call your representatives, people. Tell them no more nuclear power plants in the US. If it’s not okay to build a nuclear power plant near a large population center, it shouldn’t be okay to build one near a small population center either.

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


    • blankMichelle says

      You are absolutely right. I am also 100% opposed to dirty coal, tar sands, fracking, and pipelines. I am completely unopposed to them using the exact same land for a huge array of solar panels. And wind turbines would be fine with me, too. Solar panels and wind turbines do not emit radioactive material or leave behind nuclear waste. And they are used successfully in many different countries to produce electricity. I do not think all options are being explored here and I am really against the double talk and lies we are being told by the power company. 🙂

  1. blankTrent Allison says

    You do realize that a coal plant releases three times as much radiation into a 50 mile radius, right? I understand that you are against coal too, but what happens when the wind stops or when it’s cloudy or at night? Thats right, a coal power plant will pick up the slack, spewing CO2 and sulfer dioxide. Also, a nuclear power plant will bring jobs into your community, for both the building period and when it is done.

    • blankMichelle Marine says

      Luckily for us, the power company came to their senses and decided to invest in wind instead of nuclear energy. So I’m not worried about it in my backyard anymore. Take a look at Germany – there you will see a country that manages its energy needs {over 60% of it} with wind and solar. We need to do a better and cleaner job of producing energy in the US.

      • blankTrent Allison says

        One question, where did you get 60 % from? Because the highest percentage that I could find was 5.3% from solar, (the first half of 2012) and 10.6% from wind (the approximent amount in 2011). I do realize that on 25, May 2012, just under 50% of Germany’s mid-day power came from solar panels, but do you know why? The weather happened to be perfect that day, so few people had the air conditioning running, and there was not a cloud in the sky. But at night, solar panels are producing 0% of the power. But France, they know what is up. 90% of their power is carbon free. They do this with hydro power 15 % and you guessed it, nuclear (76%). And 45 % of Germany’s power comes from coal. Germany is the third largest consumer of natural gas in the world. And 17% of Germany’s power is nuclear. So yeah, go France!!!!

        • blankMichelle Marine says

          Who are you and why are you digging up a 2 year old post on a dead topic? There are plenty of places you can go if you’d like to live near a nuclear power plant. But don’t tell me we should build one here simply because fewer than 5,000 people happen to live in the so-called catastrophe danger zone. I wrote this post in response to a local issue that occurred over 2 years ago, and as I’ve said, our local power company came to their senses and decided against nuclear power in favor of renewable resources (http://www.aweablog.org/blog/post/news-roundup-midamerican-bets-big-on-renewables-the-iowa-wind-boom-austin-energy-leads-the-way. I didn’t move to an obscure state inhabited by few people because I wanted to live a polluted life in order for city dwellers to get enough power to maintain environmentally unfriendly lifestyles. And the power generated by this proposed nuclear power plant would not have benefited us, for certain. But go here if you want to read more about Germany: http://rt.com/news/price-solar-energy-retail-033/. They claim, “Germany has blazed the trail for green energy in Europe after deciding to decommission all of its nuclear power plants, following the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan 2011. Back in 2012 Germany’s solar power plants produced a record 22 gigawatts of power, meeting around 50 percent of the nation’s power quota.”

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