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Today, in Washington DC, is a relicensing hearing for Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station in Claiborne County Mississippi, 1000 miles away.
Staircase from the Windsor Plantation Ruins. The staircase is now at Alcorn State University, the first black land grant college in the USA. Both are near Grand Gulf Nuclear Reactor. Clearly the Grand Gulf Nuclear Reactor is a blight on the landscape in every sense of the word.
Hurricane Evacuation map shows Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Alcorn (ASU), Fayette, etc. and County Names: http://mdot.ms.gov/hurricanes/prepare/pdf/hurricane-evacuation-guide-2015.pdf While a hurricane would require evacuation to the north, a nuclear accident may require evacuation through Jefferson Co. Below is the size of the Chernobyl exclusion zone overlaid with Port Gibson in Claiborne County and Fayette in Jefferson County. Jefferson Co. clearly may be seriously impacted by a nuclear accident.
Greenpeace interactive map found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/code/2016/chernobyl/index.html
Things appear to only have gotten worse since 2004 when it was pointed out that “Claiborne County government is particularly unprepared to respond to a radiological emergency or a security threat at the proposed reactor(s), as a result of the high level of poverty in the county and the effects of a discriminatory tax policy that sends most of the tax revenue from Grand Gulf out of Claibome County….” The 2004 document refers to “other sites whose surrounding populations are in a better financial position to absorb the costs of mounting an effective response to a radiological emergency at the nuclear plant, or arrangements to more equitably distribute the wealth that is generated by the facility. During the years of construction and operation of the nuclear plant, Claiborne County has become progressively more isolated and racially segregated. Between 1970 and 1980, the population of Claibome County grew from 10,086 to 12,279. Between 1980 and 1990, this growth trend reversed: by 1990, the population had decreased to 11,370. Today, only 11,831 people live in Claiborne County. “White flight” from the County has been a steady trend: in 1980, Claiborne County was 74.5% percent African American; today, it is 84.1 percent African American. The presence of the Grand Gulf plant has not pulled Claibome County out of a relatively high poverty level. In 1980, the poverty rate in the county was 32.9%. The most recently available census data show that in 1999, the County’s poverty rate was 32.4%. This level is high in comparison with a poverty rate of 20% for the entire state.” NAACP, NIRS, Public Citizen, Sierra Club: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0413/ML041320391.pdf As of 2015 the US Census estimated the population as 9,150 people, 84.1% black, with a poverty rate of 42.6%. Nearby Jefferson County has a poverty rate of 38.5% and is 85.1% black. Clearly, Grand Gulf has done nothing good for this area. Rather it is contaminating people and the environment, including precious agricultural land. The reactor was under construction from the 70s until 1985, so the growth was probably temporary influx of outsiders who took jobs, since the poverty level was still high.
Jefferson County Supervisors have begged for years to be included in planning and emergency exercises related to nearby Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station, apparently to no avail. The reactor has been open since 1985. Thus they were excluded for decades. The excuse by Entergy, owner-operator of Grand Gulf for excluding them appears to be that they are outside of a 10 mile radius. However, as Fukushima and Chernobyl have shown, 10 miles is insufficient, as pointed out by Supervisor Cammie Hutcherson in 2011. He furthermore pointed out that as a county to the south of the site they need to participate in evacuation planning in case winds are blowing from the south during a nuclear emergency, making Jefferson Co. the escape route. Other neighboring counties participate. According to the 2013 SW Mississippi Hazard Mitigation Plan, Claiborne County, location of Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station is urgently in need of approximately $2,300,000 for their Emergency Operations Center.
In July of 2008 the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors wrote the US NRC: “During a Public Scoping Meeting held in Port Gibson, Mississippi on June 19, 2008, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors learned that Entergy has submitted an application for a combined license for Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, Unit 3 on February 27, 2008… Because Jefferson County is within the 10 mile plume exposure pathway of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant and a primary evacuation route (Highway 61) traverses Jefferson County, we have consistently asked to be included in meetings, public hearings, etc. as it relates to Grand Gulf. Our first request to be notified of meetings, public hearings, etc., was made at a public hearing in Port Gibson on June 28, 2005. At that time, the names and addresses of all contacts were included:- Because we were not notified of the hearing on June 19, 2008, we were not prepared to make public comments.
there are … potential negative externalities that all elected representatives of the public must consider since our first obligation is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens.
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors and the citizens of Jefferson County are concerned about the adequacy of emergency response planning in the vicinity of the nuclear reactor and want to assure that offsite radiological emergency planning is effective and can be fully implemented in a timely and coordinated manner during emergency events.
Of particular concern to us is the need to aggressively engage our citizens in emergency planning, the need for effective warning devices in our population centers, and the need for interoperable communication between local first responders. To ensure the safety and welfare of our community, there is a need for emergency warning sirens to be located in populated areas; communication devices that will enable all emergency first responders to communicate on the same frequency in the event of an emergency; and assuming a plume moving in a northerly direction, then evacuation routes would be southerly from Grand Gulf (directly through Jefferson County)… it is not anyone’s intent to obstruct he expansion of the Grand Gulf facility – only to assure that the safety and welfare of the citizens of Jefferson County and surrounding area are protected.
We are still concerned that Jefferson County has not been actively involved in participating in the radiological emergency planning activities. For that reason, I am requesting that the following individuals from Jefferson County be added to the mailing distribution list for the Grand Gulf Unit 3 Project, to ensure that we receive proper notice, that representatives from Jefferson County are fully engaged in this process, and have the opportunity to actively participate.” (See original text at post bottom.)
Almost three years later on March 17, 2011, shortly after the start of the Fukushima accident, Supervisor Cammie Hutcherson noted that President Obama told Americans to distance themselves from Fukushima by 50 miles and that they were within 25 miles of Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station: http://youtu.be/v5nNz0Wb3ck He pointed out that depending on the wind direction that they may also be an evacuation route. They still needed sirens and communication equipment. He stated that he used to work at Grand Gulf and that there were traffic back-ups due to the bridges along Hwys 18 and 61 which would make evacuation difficult. Furthermore, 40% of roads were in Jefferson County were closed due to bridge problems. While Entergy said that Grand Gulf had sirens, that would be only for those in close proximity. The emergency practice in November of 2011 appears to have still excluded Jefferson County for both evacuation and help with evacuation. See: “AFTER ACTION REPORT Grand Gulf Nuclear Station (GGNS) REP Program Exercise” http://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1210/ML12101A214.pdf We have not contacted anyone, and can’t even get their web site to work for us, but we find no evidence online that this has changed. The State of Mississippi still stated at the end of 2014: “The Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program has a lead planner and one trainer. The REPP staff are directly responsible for Mississippi’s radiological emergency plan and work closely Entergy’s Grand Gulf Nuclear Station located in Claiborne County. This program oversees and facilitates planning and training for potential nuclear incidents with the direct risk county (Claiborne) and supporting host counties (Adams, Copiah, Hinds and Warren).” http://www.msema.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Annual-Report-2014.pdf Adams is south of Jefferson Co, deepening the mystery of why they are excluded.
In 2013 the SW Mississippi Hazard Mitigation (regional plan) states that: “A failure of the Grand Gulf facility would significantly impact Claiborne County and to a lesser degree, Jefferson County. Claiborne County currently has a disaster plan for dealing with this potential hazard titled the “Port Gibson/Claiborne County Radiological Emergency Preparedness Plan”. It is on file with the Port Gibson/Claiborne County Civil Defense.” It further notes:
“14-B. Town of Fayette – Improve Emergency Evacuation Routes
ORGANIZATION: Town of Fayette / Jefferson County Board of Supervisors
TYPE OF HAZARD: Radiological
ISSUE: Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station is located in western Claiborne County. Part of the ten-mile Plume Emergency Planning Zone is in Jefferson County. The county is completely within the 50 mile Ingestion Emergency Planning Zone. Adequate warning systems and timely evacuation are the citizens only defense in the event of a release of contaminants from the facility. Also, if a release of radiological pollutants were to occur at Grand Gulf, many evacuees would come to or through Jefferson County.
RECOMMENDATION: The Town of Fayette / Jefferson County sees the need to improve the condition of the evacuation routes including upgrading bridges where needed.
FUNDING: Homeland Security grants, FEMA Hazard Mitigation grants, individual county general and special funds
STATUS: The Town of Fayette / Jefferson County Board of Supervisors would like to secure funding to complete this project within the next five (5) years.” [that would be 2018].
As for Claiborne County which is the location of Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, the SW Miss Hazard Mitigation Plan States:
“7E. Claiborne County – Construct New Emergency Operations Center
ORGANIZATION: Claiborne County Board of Supervisors
TYPE OF HAZARD: Hurricane or other hazard requiring action from the EOC
ISSUE: The Claiborne County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is currently within the 10 mile Emergency Planning Zone for Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. Inadequate local resources and faulty construction have resulted in a building that is no longer safe or habitable for staff or the general public. Temporary facilities are currently being used, which severely hampers the EOC’s ability to perform its functions during times of emergency. Staff and equipment should be housed at one location to maximize efficiency and minimize response time.
RECOMMENDATION: The EOC should secure and renovate another building or construct a new one of sufficient size to house all EOC staff and equipment, outside the 10 mile emergency planning zone.
COST: Approximately $2,300,000
FUNDING: Homeland Security grants, USDA Rural Development Agency grants, FEMA Hazard Mitigation grants, US Economic Development Administration grants, individual county general and special funds
STATUS: On-going.” http://www.swmpdd.com/services/SWMPDD_Hazard_Mitigation_Plan.pdf
In the application for another nuclear reactor on site it was stated: “Claiborne County in Mississippi and Tensas Parish in Louisiana are the local governmental jurisdictions within the proposed new facility’s Plume Exposure EPZ. They have developed plans to be implemented in the event of a radiological emergency at the GGNS Unit 1 facility. Claiborne County Civil Defense and Tensas Parish Emergency Preparedness have communication centers which serve as the means for notifying various support services (fire and rescue, transportation, law enforcement).” http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0329/ML032960432.pdf
In their nuclear reactor renewal request Entergy states: “Entergy analyzed evacuation travel times for the Mississippi and Louisiana sides of the Mississippi River within the 16-km (10-mi) emergency planning zone (Entergy 2011). The analysis stated that 100 percent of the population would be prepared to begin evacuation within 195 minutes from emergency notification for evacuation and 100 percent of the population could be evacuated in 250 minutes or less following an evacuation order.” http://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1432/ML14328A171.pdf This appears slow. It is for 8,806 people according to PSR: http://www.psr.org/resources/evacuation-zone-nuclear-reactors.html Compare to 258,848 within 10 miles for Indian Point: http://www.psr.org/resources/evacuation-zone-nuclear-reactors.html
For Port Gibson, neighboring Grand Gulf Nuclear the SW Mississippi Hazard Mitigation Plan stated in 2013:
“8B. City of Port Gibson – Improve Emergency Communications
ORGANIZATION: City of Port Gibson Board of Aldermen and Mayor
TYPE OF HAZARD: Hurricane or other hazard leading to loss of traditional communications systems
ISSUE: Loss of the communication capabilities between law enforcement offices, other emergency responders, and other units of government during a natural disaster can have a severe impact on the functioning of government to provide relief and assistance to citizens and maintain civil order. This can also cause very significant problems for private citizens who need assistance, especially the elderly and other special needs persons.
RECOMMENDATION: Purchase a satellite phone system to ensure communications capabilities are unimpeded during natural disasters even if traditional communications systems fail.
COST: Approximately $500 – $1,000 per satellite phone unit depending on the manufacturer and the service plan chosen.
FUNDING: Homeland Security grants, USDA Rural Development Agency grants, FEMA Hazard Mitigation grants, US Economic Development Administration grants, individual city general and special funds
Furthermore the Hazard Mitigation Plan states that they aren’t even ready for hurricanes, which are a routine occurrence, and need backup generators for severe weather. They also need sirens for tornados, as well as nuclear emergency. The regional Southwest Mississippi Hazard Mitigation Plan states regarding Fayette and Jefferson County, as well as Port Gibson and Claiborne County: “Communities lack the skills and education needed to survive severe weather, before and during an event. Local emergency managers need to strengthen their hazardous weather operations… Loss of electrical power to critical facilities such as water and sewer systems, law enforcement offices, and other critical facilities during a natural disaster can have a severe impact on the functioning of government to provide relief and assistance to citizens and maintain civil order. This can also cause very significant problems for private citizens who depend on municipal and rural water and sewer systems and rely on county and city governments to continue to maintain order. This situation can be especially difficult on the elderly and other special needs persons who would have a difficult time maintaining the basics for themselves without assistance.
RECOMMENDATION: Purchase permanently mounted generators for water systems and government facilities such as city halls, county courthouses, police and sheriff offices. Purchase mobile generators for sewer lift stations. Secure the services of a licensed electrician to modify the wiring at each generator site to enable its use…
Many citizens in Jefferson County live in rural areas and small communities. In the event of inclement weather, it is essential that they receive timely warnings.
RECOMMENDATION: A warning system should be installed throughout the county to notify citizens of any dangerous weather or man-made event in a timely manner. In portions of the county where sirens/warning systems may have already been installed, they should be upgraded and incorporated into the countywide system.” http://www.swmpdd.com/services/SWMPDD_Hazard_Mitigation_Plan.pdf
Why are they excluded? Jefferson county is a low population rural county of 7507 people. Claiborne of 9150 people. They are 85% black and 84% black, respectively. They have 38.5% people in poverty in Jefferson and 42.6% in poverty in Claiborne. Clearly Grand Gulf didn’t lift them out of poverty. No one who was aware that the nuclear reactor was there would want to move there or farm there or open other businesses there. Thus, it probably locked them into poverty. 14.6% of those under 65 are disabled in Jefferson Co. But, for Veterans and disabled they are not far off percentage wise from their neighboring counties. Their biggest distinction appears to be a much more highly black population and much higher levels of economic poverty. There is a nearby university Alcorn State which is listed as being in Lorman (Jefferson) but appears to be physically in Claiborne where Alcorn is on the map.
While one is tempted to call this environmental racism, and the initial siting of this nuclear reactor appears to be that, because Entergy doesn’t appear concerned for the comparatively well-heeled predominantly white people near Indian Point, nor even New York City, one must suspect that it is because the Jefferson County Supervisors understand the need to evacuate in a radiological emergency. They are alert and have some common sense and the nearby counties don’t want to deal with inquiring minds who demand public safety. Or, the neighboring counties just are too stupid to understand that a nuclear accident is not a hurricane and so you don’t necessarily go north. However, Adams Co. to the south of Jefferson is included. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because Cammie Hutcherson can’t be bribed into silence? He cares for people. It is important to point out again, however, that wealthier communities have a better potential for evacuation, as well as providing for Emergency Services.
Jefferson County is near the Grand Gulf nuclear reactor and yet Supervisors had to intervene because their natural gas rates may be raised: http://www.psc.state.ms.us/InsiteConnect/InSiteView.aspx?model=INSITE_CONNECT&queue=CTS_ARCHIVEQ&docid=309272
Natural gas is often preferred as more reliable after hurricanes and other electric outages. Why is that nuclear reactor there then?
Before reading the Supervisors letter in its entirety, it is worth recalling what was said in the film “Still Fighting for Gemma” about Sellafield Nuclear Facility in England: “The film truthfully and painfully exposes the death grip that Sellafield has over the area “people are more afraid of unemployment than radiation.” https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/still-fighting-for-gemma-this-film-is-a-must-watch-for-everyone-with-an-interest-in-the-truth-about-sellafield/
Emphasis our own. Page 3 found here: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0821/ML082190563.pdf ML082190563
PLEASE NOTE THAT EXCEPTING DEMOGRAPHICS OF RACE AND POVERTY, OUR POST IS NOT UP TO DATE. TO GET UP TO DATE MATERIALS YOU WOULD PROBABLY NEED TO CONTACT THE COUNTY SUPERVISORS. IT SEEMS UNLIKELY THAT ANYTHING HAS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER SINCE 2013 OR 2014 IF NOTHING CHANGED FOR THE BETTER BETWEEN 1985 AND 2013, HOWEVER. We were unable to get on the Jefferson County web site.
“EARLY SITE PERMIT APPLICATION for the GRAND GULF NUCLEAR STATION SITE
PART 4 EMERGENCY PLANNING INFORMATION” http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0329/ML032960432.pdf
Application Renewal: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0329/ML032960432.pdf