"4 ,. .I He ld-Tribune
y / MOoO .ooo 1-Ui"1976
PM.O,000 S-B5OX 0 102 7 8
J/ / / / .JU -1 -75 _____
Protecting The Peace
DeSoto County Commissioners ex- of water from the Peace for phosphate
pressed resentment at a meeting with mining (Phillips Petroleum does not
state Department of Environmental plan that use in its proposed DeSoto
Regulation officials that a group not operations) or for electric generating
From DeSoto County had proposed that plants (Florida Power and Light does
Sthe Peace River be reclassified from plan on that).
Class III, recreational, to Class I, A spokesman for the DER at the
"potable. meeting said that the river already
"To some of the DeSoto Cor- meets the standards of Class I streams
missioners, this comes over as "other and that recreational use would not be
counties telling us how to run this prohibited by that classification. Thus,
county." Ordinarily we agree that nothing that the Peace is presently
DeSoto County should be left to run being used for would be prevented by
DeSoto County affairs. But the Peace the reclassification. But it is probable
River does not rise, run its course and that if the reclassification is rejected,
end its being in DeSoto County. the quality of the stream will steadily
And when any act of one county af- degenerate.
fects the people of another, then those The time to save a stream is before
Outsiders have a right to be considered it is heavily damaged. And
and represented in the decision-making, reclassification now would serve an
The proposal for reclassification of admirable purpose.
the river came from General Develop- We agree with Commissioner Calvin
ment Corp.'s subsidiary, General Utili- Boggess' indignant stand that if
ties, and the Charlotte County Conser- residential developments in Sarasota
ovation Council. and Charlotte counties "are using up
-General Utilities already has recelv- their natural resources, they should
ed permission from the DeSoto County halt the growth of their populations."
Commission to dig a huge pond into But the Southwest Florida Water
which it will dump several million gal- Management District is the place to
lons of water a day to provide (if all figTIZt~ e battle of preventing over-use
parts of a two-year testing program turn of the Peace River's w a t e r.
out acceptable) a backstop, low-flow sup- Reclassification of the river for its full
: ply of water for the growing communi- length as a Class I river protects it
ties it serves in Charlotte and Sarasota for DeSoto's future use as drinking
counties, water just as much as it protects it
The proposed change in classifica- for anyone.
tions would not directly affect this pro- And in Florida, all our rivers need
posed use, but it would prohibit use all the protection they can get.
FIRE AT A NUCLEAR PLANT: [continued from preceding page]
OFFICIAL REPORT ON A NEAR-DISASTER
pected for at least a year. A central
element in the plutonium debate is the
At 15 minutes past noon on March tigators indicated officials at the long-promised reactor that is known as
22, 1975, fire broke out in the plant were ill-prepared to deal with the "fast breeder." It would produce
Browns Ferry atomic power plant the emergency. After workmen more plutonium than it consumes and
near Athens, Ala. failed to put out the blaze by them- thus is touted by the industry as the
The near-catastrophe that followed selves, it took 15 minutes to sound answer to the country's energy prob-
was the worst ever at a commercial the general fire alarm because the lems in the next 30 years.
nuclear power facility in the U.S. It wrong telephone number was listed What the future holds. Nuclear offi-
has raised doubt about reactor "fail- on an emergency-procedure sheet, cials in Government and industry ac-
safe" safety systems because most Firefighters disagree. An hour knowledge the current slowdown, but
were quickly rendered useless. after the fire started, local firemen predict it will be overcome and atomic
The following description of the from nearby Athens arrived on the power will play a vital role in the U.S.
incident is summarized from the offi- scene and recommended use of wa- drive for energy independence. Says
cial investigation report of the Nucle- ter to douse the blaze. This advice Carl Walske, president of the Atomic
ar Regulatory Commission. was rejected until the fire had Industrial Forum, Inc.:
Fire started when a workman's burned for seven hours. When water "Our problems are distinctly of a
candle used to check for air leaks finally was used, the blaze was extin- short-term nature, and the majority of
ignited a rack of electrical cables just guished in 15 minutes. these can-and will-be resolved once
below the reactor control room. The reactor's emergency core- the electric utilities regain their finan-
Some 2,000 cables were destroyed cooling systems, as well as a number cial footing Uncertainty, much
and the complex wiring system of of other important pump and water- more than stagnation, right now is the
the plant was gutted. The smoke- circulation backup systems, were bane of the nuclear utilities."
filled control room was chaotic as knocked out by the fire. Atomic power, it is pointed out, has
operators struggled to safely shut Technicians scrambled to find oth- proved reliable and economical in many
down the controlled-fission reaction er ways of keeping the reactor core utility systems. One of the best records
that generates power. cool. The water level in one unit has been compiled by Commonwealth
There were several minor injuries; almost dropped below the tops of the Edison Company of Chicago.
no one was killed. Total damage was fuel rods. If these rods are not sur- A third of Commonwealth's generat-
put at 6.7 million dollars by the plant rounded by water, they will melt and ing capacity is nuclear-about 5,000
owner, the Tennessee Valley Author- the molten mass of radioactive fuel megawatts produced by seven units. In
ity. Both reactors in the two-unit can burn through the floor of the one month, November, 1975, half the
plant are out of commission for at reactor containment vessel, releasing system's electricity was produced by
least a year at a monthly cost of 10 deadly contaminants to the sur- the atom. Says a spokesman: "In the last
million dollars. rounding environment. This is half year, the performance of our nuce-
Findings of the Government inves- known as a "core melt-down." ar plants has been remarkable. We have
p One strained pumping system was nothing but praise for the way these
"" all that stood, between control of the plants have worked."
'P IP core and a possible melt-down. One In the Commonwealth system, the
"- other procedure might have been cost of generating power with nuclear
S",ti2 ^t used, but operators at Browns Ferry plants is about 20 per cent less than that
S.. j 1 told investigators they were not of coal-fired units.
CA aware of this option at the time. No contest. For most utilities in the
lj HL I d Local authorities were notified of Northeast, nuclear power is found to be
i- "' __ the fire in a haphazard manner. No the best option. The nonpolluting, low-
.-- *i--i;, :. ifJ, j official notification was ever given to sulphur coal fields of the West are too
"- i .L i ;the State highway patrol. The Civil far from this region to be economically
.- Defense Co-ordinator for the coun- used. Says a spokesman for Consolidat-
j "' ty-who would have been responsi- ed Edison Company, based in New
hble for implementing evacuation York City: "There's no contest in our
K"L'- 0-" t -i S' plans-heard about the fire two days State."
S' i - later. The sheriff of a neighboring But past success, say opponents of nu-
't.'_ ,- ... county was told about the situation clear power, do not guarantee future
, ""11 ^j j : ^ four hours after the fire started, but performance and safety.
"was asked to keep quiet about the Staunch advocates concede that the
[ "- '"- incident to avoid any panic," he said. drive for more energy from the atom is
1 i :, Officials of the Nuclear Regulatory at a critical juncture. Robert C. Sea-
"---1.. :. Commission, in answer to criticism mans, Jr., head of the Energy Research
".I'e.' _I ..... in the wake of the incident at the and Development Administration, lays
': Browns Ferry plant, say the fact that down this challenge: "I believe it is our
S.; ,. a melt-down was avoided when so responsibility to demonstrate that this
-..~ ....,. .-" ... l many of the backup systems were industry knows what it is doing, that we
.. .. disabled demonstrates that the re- have the capability to deal with our
S ...., ,- dundant safety approach does work. problems.. Nuclear power must play
.,A The NRC is now in the process of a major role in this nation's energy fu-
At Browns Ferry plant in Alabama, rechecking the safety systems of ev- ture, or our national future will be very
workmen load fuel rods into reactor. ery nuclear plant in the country. bleak indeed."
52 U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, Feb. 16, 1976