PRESS RELEASE: Georgia WAND Responds to PSC’s 12/21 Decision Mandating Rate Payers Shoulder Nuclear Expansion

Contact: Lindsay Harper
Deputy Director
Georgia WAND Education Fund
(404) 428-7440

Georgia WAND Responds to PSC’s 12/21 Decision Mandating Rate Payers Shoulder Nuclear Expansion Financial Burden

ATLANTA, GA, Tuesday December 28, 2017: Although disappointed that the Georgia Public Service Commission decision moves Plant Vogtle’s construction nearer to completion, Georgia WAND sees opportunities to help move nuclear communities, like Burke County, closer to establishing sustainable and healthy local economies to replace nuclear-based financial systems.

“The decision doesn’t entirely lack hope,” says Becky Rafter, Georgia WAND executive director. “It limits how much money Georgia Power can profit from Vogtle’s expansion. Without federal tax credits, the project will continue to lack financial viability. It also calls for Georgia Power to generate five megawatts of solar energy in Burke County and extends a credit back to ratepayers, which, although small to some, will make a big difference to others,” says Becky Rafter, executive director of Georgia WAND. “We will continue to dutifully inform the commissioners about the human side of this issue, such as the high cancer rate and Vogtle’s role in the dispersion of radiation; the need for a locally-driven, diversified, sustainable economies; and gainful, healthy employment that doesn’t rely on or include nuclear expansion.”

“People who live in Burke County love their community and their land,” says Dianne Valentin, Georgia WAND board president. “They recognize the difficult position they are in, when family members rely on Plant Vogtle for jobs and the community relies on Georgia Power for public resources; yet they have grave and widespread concerns about the health impacts of exposure to environmental contamination.”

Georgia WAND is concerned about unanswered questions regarding causality between the long-term, low-dose radiation exposure to workers and residents and the high incidence of cancer and other health issues.

“Georgia’s energy future is being drawn on the backs of rural Georgians, many of whom are too afraid to speak about their contradicting concerns,” says Rafter. “Georgia WAND believes the PSC commissioners must turn a listening ear to local communities, from Shell Bluff to Sylvania, from Midville to Keysville, so that decisions can center local workers and residents as part of the larger Vogtle ecosystem.”

Burke County community organizer Natalie Herrington said that the PSC decision results in even more uncertainty for her community.

“On the one hand, we need funding to conduct long term studies to determine if there is a connection between nuclear power and health concerns,” said Herrington. “On the other hand, residents need jobs. I’m concerned, yet proactive by being a part of a jobs policy initiative.”

Moving forward, Herrington explains, “I expect Vogtle to be a part of a jobs policy program in Burke County. I expect Vogtle to be a part of emergency preparedness planning & implementation. I even expect Vogtle to invest in research in regards to our community’s health concerns. Burke County is my home.”

“The biggest issue for me around the decision is: what are our next step?” shares lifetime Burke County resident and Georgia WAND community organizer, Janie Hill-Scott. “We have to advocate for a healthy community with a solid jobs program. Funding around public health and jobs is key to creating a healthy thriving community.”

Toward this end, Georgia WAND is working on centering affected communities to craft public policy that addresses jobs and jobs training; the vulnerabilities of and dangers to public health for communities living and working near and at the reactor sites; the need for proper emergency preparation for people living in close proximity to the plant; and the dangers of the clash between the nuclear industry and climate change effects in the southeast.

We will continue building relationships and trust with community members, industry representatives, regulators, partners, and local elected officials in order to advance nuclear harm reduction measures and to support Burke County and other Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) localities becoming thriving, sustainable, self-determining communities working in partnership across racial, geographic, and political differences.

On December 13, 2017, Georgia WAND released a new report, entitled “Community Impacts at the Crossroads of Nuclear and Climate Injustices in the U.S. South” an in-depth analysis of the dangerous clash between climate change and the nuclear industry, and its effects on communities in Georgia. On December 14, 2017, Georgia WAND hosted a tele-press conference announcing the report. To listen to the full audio recording of the conference call, click here. An executive summary of the report is available here.

About Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.
Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc. educates the public and opinion leaders about the need to reduce violence and militarism in society, and redirect excessive military spending to unmet human and environmental needs.
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