Disaster in Japan brings "nuclear" concerns to Texas

David Collier, with Oncor
David Collier, with Oncor
Sherry Lowery
Sherry Lowery
Giles Solly
Giles Solly

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The troubles at a Japanese nuclear power plant have many concerned about nuclear plants here in the United States.

Exelon, a Texas based nuclear operator and the largest one in the U.S. is trying to get an early site permit for a proposed plant 100 miles from Houston.

Two days of hearings in Victoria began Wednesday, just north of the proposed site. Opponents urged federal regulators to put the brakes on the permit application.

Disaster in Japan has many East Texans concerned about expanding the use of nuclear power.

"It makes me a little bit nervous," said Giles Solly, a concerned father. "At the same time we don't have the threats of earthquakes and volcanoes so I am not as concerned as if I was somewhere over there but it's still a concern because meltdowns can happen anywhere."

The threat has many people saying "not in my back yard" to nuclear energy.

But how much do we actually rely on reactors?

KTRE asked East Texans this question: Do you have any idea of where your energy comes from? "Honestly, no I don't," said Solly.

"Not really," said Gwendolyn Roberson.

So just where does your energy come from? The Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages 85% of Texas electricity. All of that power comes from several sources. Coal and natural gas make a combined 78 %. Nuclear energy is just 12% and wind and water, a collective 9%.

Four nuclear power plants in Texas bring you energy. Two are near Dallas and two more are south of Houston.

Luminant and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries released this statement about their expansion plans.

"...The fundamentals of nuclear power in the United States are unchanged - clean, reliable sources.... are critical to meeting growing electric demands..."

David Collier, area manager for Oncor Electric Delivery agrees nuclear power remains a viable resource.

"We've had nuclear plants for several years obviously in the state and I know there are a lot of regulations on them to make sure that they can continue to be safe," said Collier.

Sherry Lowery isn't so sure. Her 9-year-old grandson sticks in her mind as she watches the situation unfold in Japan.

"It would be your children and the generation coming up," said Lowery.

Leaving a feeling of uneasiness for Sherry, and other East Texans about what a nuclear future might mean for them.

Champions of nuclear expansion say it will have a huge impact on the Texas economy, including retail sales and personal income. It is also expected to create thousands of new jobs.

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