January 9, 2018, by EVA FEDDERLY, Courthouse News
SHELL BLUFF, Ga. (CN)- The Rev. Charles Utley was born in the rural town of Shell Bluff, Ga., in 1947, long before nuclear power facility Plant Vogtle erected its first two nuclear reactors in the community.
When Utley was a boy, people swam in the Savannah River next to where Plant Vogtle would later build nuclear reactors 1 and 2 in 1987 and 1989, respectively.
Today, very few swim, fish or drink from the river because it is one of the most toxic in the United States.
“One thing we’re seeing is the amount of cancer-related illnesses in the area,” Utley, who serves as a pastor in the community, said in an interview. “Before the building construction within the last three decades, Burke County [had] one of the lowest cancer rates in the nation. Now we’re one of highest… It came from exposure.”