Local Activists Perform at PSC, Shining Spotlight on the Trainwreck that is Vogtle
A small team of activists, concerned Georgians, and Stop Plant Vogtle members announced a press conference late yesterday for Thursday the 31st at 9:30 AM in front of the Public Service Commission headquarters downtown. The heart of the matter: a cover-up by Georgia Power of the trainwreck that is Vogtle -- this time, taking the phrase literally.
On December 15th of last year, the nuclear containment vessel for one of the new reactors at the plant was en route when, sources say, a cable snapped, nearly causing a catastrophic accident when the 330 ton vessel fell. Despite the last Vogtle Monitoring Report in front of the PSC being three days after this accident, Georgia Power/Southern Company officials remained close-lipped and made no mention of the incident. In fact, the information was not made known until a private individual came forward and broke the story, which occurred nearly a month later in mid-January. Georgia Power closed the books on their testimony, cancelling the last Construction Monitoring Report meeting in late January that was scheduled on the subject of Vogtle. Ctizens and activists felt the need to make sure that this near-disaster was not swept under the rug. As a result, a dedicated group took the next Energy Committee meeting as an opportunity to give a rather unique voice to the situation.
"It's absurd that this event went unnoticed. We're talking about over 600,000 lbs that could've caused unheard of havoc had it gotten loose completely," said Robert Feria, an activist working with Stop Plant Vogtle. "And it's still in [Savannah] port. It's been there for nearly a month and a half now." Mr. Feria refers to the fact that since the accident, the vessel was returned to the port of Savannah where it has sat disused and rather oddly conspicuous, merely being covered by a large blue tarpaulin. The reactor vessel top was recently again set on course for Vogtle, but the rest of the containment chamber remains unmoved, purportedly awaiting inspection, for an unknown amount of time.
"[Georgia Power] is just lucky that they're behind schedule from all their other failings," said Glenn Caroll from Nuclear Watch South, who has worked closely with the Stop Plant Vogtle coalition. "But if they don't get the rest of the vessel [to Vogtle] soon, you can expect to see your bill going up again!"
In response to these recurring costly setbacks at Vogtle, the activists said they'd like to respond with a more "upbeat" comment. Hesistantly, the Energy Committee meeting chair and Commissioner, Bubba McDonald gave them two minutes at the end of the meeting, wherein the activists launched into a parody of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" -- "Georgia Power Choo." The song poked fun of the series of mistakes that have plagued the Vogtle expansion project since they began.
"Can we afford to board the trillion-dollar Choo-Choo? We're paying for CWIP, it's going to be a long trip..."
The audience seemed to enjoy the satire.
Video here: PSC Video