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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gov. Jon Huntsman opposes a nuclear-power plant in Utah until there's technology to safely handle radioactive waste on site. "That's a deal-breaker," Huntsman told the Deseret Morning News in a copyright story Friday.
Huntsman recently led Utah's fight to stop a stockpile for tons of spent fuel rods at a Goshute Indian reservation, about 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
A new issue has emerged: State lawmakers are talking about allowing utilities to bill consumers for the cost of building a nuclear-power facility even before it begins generating electricity.
Huntsman said he's worried about a nuclear accident. "This is a long-term proposal at best, I think, because you've got to look at the risk involved, and there is enormous risk potential," he said.
The chairman of the Legislature's Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee said the discussion has just started. "The only way we can meet our needs is through nuclear power," said Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who calls the amount of waste "minuscule."
Critics of nuclear power praised Huntsman. He "wisely understands that building a nuclear reactor here is inconsistent with state policy and jeopardizes the successes that we've had in preventing other states from dumping their waste here," said Vanessa Pearce, executive director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, known as HEAL Utah.
Huntsman did not rule out nuclear power as an option to meet the state's long-term energy needs. He described it as part of a mix of useful energy sources, including wind, solar and cleaner coal-fired plants.
"You have to consider all the options out there, including nuclear," he said, endorsing the recent recommendation of his own task force on climate change. "It's only realistic if you want to look at it as a hardheaded realist over the next generation or two."
But until nuclear waste can be recycled and rendered safe where it's produced, Huntsman said he's not ready to back a plant in Utah.
Information from: Deseret Morning News
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)