72nd Year, 24th edition Thursday, October 14, 1971 Santa Rosa, Cal.
COAAST goes after Pt. Arena power plant
A powerful conservation group has branded siting of power plants along California’s coast, ugly destructive, dangerous and possibly obsolete. Californians Organized to Acquire Access to State Tidelands (COAAST), through its president Charles Hinkle of Santa Rosa, aimed its guns at Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) plans to construct a nuclear power plant at Point Areana, and at coast power developments in general. Among its other charges, COAAST accuses PG&E of exaggerating its need for electrical power, and using “grammar school propaganda” as an excuse to industrialize the coast, destroying its aesthetic beauty much as the Feather River has been destroyed. The strongly-worded statement urged state coastal protection legislation and exploration of other sources of power, including floating off-shore submerged nuclear plants, and geothermal wells. COAAST also chastised the giant utility company for going ahead with its power plant despite new developments in power plant regulations, specifically: --An Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) ruling calling for redesigning of nuclear plants’ fall-safe mechanism, to guard against a reactor core accident. –Court rulings that the AEC, for the first time, is responsible for environmental impact, including thermal pollution, of nuclear power plants. A Florida court ruling halting development of a large power plant in that area. –U.S. Senate consideration of a bill that would place a five-year moratorium on nuclear power plant construction. The 31 cities and 15 countries which govern the state’s 1075-mile coastline, COOAST charges, have sacrificed aesthetics and “people need” to industrialization, in order to broaden the tax base. The State, COOAST says, should long ago have passed legislation which recognized the coast as a “treasure” for all the state’s people and seen power plant development as a “direct challenge to the best and highest use of the coastline, public usage.” The fact that the Pacifica Ocean provides cooling power needed by nuclear plants, “is no reason to industrialize our coastline to fill this need,” COOAST goes on. Power plants create thermal pollution along the coast, where their waters are discharged, COOAST says. What’s more, they use sea water, a public resource, at no cost to the utility.
What other public resource besides air, is given away free, and at the same times pollutes, both radioactively and thermally?” Not only do power plants destroy aesthetic scenic amenities in themselves, but the “vast networks of power poles and lines” the structures need, ‘add to the visual destruction of the coastline,” COOAST continues. Further, they create a potential radiation threat to acres downwind from their stack discharge, or from plant accidents, and pose the threat of radioactive contamination of discharge water. They produce considerable radioactive waste, some of which has a half-life of 1000 years, “producing, for all intents permanent non-destructible poison,” COOAST asserts. A further evil of power plants on the coast is their propensity to encourage coastal housing and economic development, went on COOAST relentlessly, “further eroding the view.” Finally, COOAST claims, coastal siting of generating plants may be proven to be “passing technology,” They could be “outmoded within two decades.” If it is, “the whole nation will have to tolerate these industrial marks on the coastal scenery much the same way the Feather River has been environmentally damaged by a chain of hydro-electric plants.” In view of all this, COOAST categorically “opposes all further industrialization of the coastline, particularly the siting of power plants.” The organization suggest a number of alternatives, including: --Not assuming that a future mass need for power is true. “The overuse of electricity should not be encouraged by utility companies, to assure projected need.” --The “most immediate solution,” placing power plants inland and away from the ocean edge. “For very little addition cost,” water can be pumped inland to cool the plants, elimination most of the above mentioned evils. –Investigation of floating off-shore submerged nuclear plants, eliminating much thermal and radiation pollutions, and all visual pollution. Congress should be encouraged to look into this. –Further investigation of geothermal sources of power, which is costly. Because of its cost, has scared off utility companies which are geared toward coastal plants. Governmental subsidies “equivalent to those give airline companies” could help “perfect this source of power.” --Congressional funding of “the ultimate power source” –fusion reaction. “Nuclear fission involving the boiling water reactor could well be a passing technology.” --COOAST calls for public support of AB1471, which would create a coastal watchdog agency, and urges utilities to “sense the will of the public and preserve the most beautiful coastline in the world by not industrializing the shoreline with power plants.” “The threat of brownouts in the future, as a tactical weapon to force the public to accept coastal power plant sitting, and the listing of future power needs of sewer plants and recycling centers as an excuse to industrialize the coast, is grammar school propaganda,” COOAST concludes strongly. Whether COOAST succeeds in its aim of stopping the Point Arena power plant remains to be seen. Other conservation groups also are in the battle, and have applied much pressure toward enacting coast and environmental protection legislation. However, they are a new lobby, and the old and more powerful Sacramento utility, real estate and development lobbies have managed to delay and even kill such legislation, in the past.
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