Sludge, nuclear power top concerns

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ISLE OF WIGHT —The Isle of Wight Citizens Association met with representatives of Dominion Power and discussed the controversial possibility of farmers in the county using treated sewage sludge for fertilizer at their meeting Monday night.

Sonny Stanley, the director of nuclear safety and licensing at the Surry Power Plant, told the audience assembled at the Carrollton Public Library that unless additional power plants were constructed, the state would be facing a deficit of 4,000 megawatts by the year 2017.

Dominion Power wants to build an additional nuclear reactor, called North Anna III, next to the two reactors it currently has on the shores of Lake Anna in Louisa County, Stanley said. He added that although the company has been looking into building turbines to harness wind power, constructing a new nuclear reactor would make more economic sense.

“(Wind power) just does not have the volume to meet our demand,” Stanley said. “For the foreseeable future, it won’t generate enough power. It’s just not feasible.”

There are no plans to build an additional reactor at the Surry Power Plant. According to a Dominion Power press release, the first reactor was opened there in 1972, and the second the following year. The power plant received a licence extension from the federal government to operate the reactors until around 2032.

Russell Savedge, an emergency preparedness specialist with Dominion Power, gave a short presentation about the security measures in place at the Surry plant. He said that everyone — and everything — going into the plant is screened.

“It’s a lot like going through security at the airport,” Savedge said.

Association members also discussed the ongoing sludge controversy.

According to Sharon Hart, the group’s treasurer, one of the key issues was that some sludge testing by the Environmental Protection agency had reported the presence of heavy metals.

Hart said the organization was concerned about the health of the local community, and of people consuming food that was grown on fields that were fertilized with sludge.

Three farms in Isle of Wight County have permission to apply sludge on their land, according to information from the county government. None have had sludge applied so far.