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Water allocation for nuclear plant in dispute

Water allocation for nuclear plant in dispute

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Several groups have filed protests with the state engineer to stop Kane County from selling water for a proposed nuclear power plant.

Kane County Water Conservancy District administrator Mike Noel says the protests are without merit.

Objections were filed by the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, the Green Party of Moab, Red Rock Forests and Uranium Watch.

Transition Power Development chief executive Aaron Tilton said he hadn't seen the protests and wasn't worried about it.

The company is looking a spot outside of Green River as one possible location for Utah's first nuclear generating station, he said.

Tilton's company is filing for federal approvals and already paying the water district for the right to take the water.

The State Engineer's Office will schedule a hearing if it determines that the groups challenging it have legal standing to object to a water transfer.

"We don't see that (nuclear reactor) as a legitimate public use that benefits Utah," said Christopher Thomas, a spokesman for the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. "We could be using our land and water in better ways."

Sarah Fields, of Moab-based Uranium Watch, said Utah has limited water resources that are better preserved for agriculture and other needs.

But deputy state engineer Boyd Clayton said the water district is likely within its right to give away some of its allocated water for a power plant.

Emery County is asking the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration for land to build an industrial park near the city of Green River. Transition has an option for 1,700 acres on the land that could accommodate a nuclear plant. Tilton said other locations remain under consideration.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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