Trial deals with water rights for Utah nuke plant

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm •  Published: September 23, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Environmentalists trying to defeat what could be Utah's first nuclear power plant went to court Monday to challenge a water-rights transfer for the project.

A judge opened the weeklong trial in Price that focuses on a decision by state Engineer Kent Jones to let a company take 53,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River to cool nuclear reactors. Price is about 100 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

Seventh District Judge George Harmond is holding the proceedings to hear expert testimony and arguments. A decision could be months away and could be appealed.

A ruling against the water transfer could effectively kill the project before it can get to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for possible operational approval. No new nuclear plant has been licensed in the U.S. since 1977, according to the commission.

The 3,000-megawatt plant in Utah was proposed by Blue Castle Holdings, a company headed by former state Rep. Aaron Tilton. It would occupy a proposed industrial park near the small town of Green River, about 40 miles upstream from Moab.

San Juan and Kane counties have agreed to sell their right to unused water — enough to serve about 100,000 households — to Blue Castle Holdings.

Continue reading this story on the...