|Fig. 1: Green River region that may be affected by the project.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)|
The Blue Castle Project is a proposed nuclear power plant in Green River, Utah that is projected to be completed in 2030. With the development of two 1500 megawatt reactors, the project is the one of the first commercial nuclear plants to be approved in the state, and is estimated to produce necessary energy and economic output for the regon. 
The project was initially proposed by the Blue Castle group in 2007, and was planned to include three full-scale nuclear reactors that would help to provide energy to Rocky Mountain Power, the main supplier of electricity to the state.  Given the demonstrated need that Rocky Mountain Power requires to continue its electricity production, and the dependence that the state has on the plant for its energy output, the state government had almost no choice but to support Blue Castle's plan to mitigate the ensuing energy need. However, obstacles over water rights and nuclear disposal halted the project for sometime. Almost four years of discussion with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding site surveys and emergency planning took place, as the environmental concern surrounding the diverse wildlife and water supply of the state was very serious. Specifically, Blue Castle's rights over Green River, the main water source for the nuclear plant, was at highest stake.  Nonetheless, Blue castle was granted applications to lease over 30,000 acre-feet of water from the river to operate the plant, so long as they implemented safety measures and inspections to maintain the cleanliness of the source. 
With construction in the works, it is estimated that the Blue Castle Project will accumulate a total cost of production of $20 billion. However, the economic impact is estimated to surpass this figure, as the cite is projected to draw in nearly $500 million in annual revenue to the state via taxes, and provide nearly 2000 long-term jobs to engineers and maintenance workers in the local region. 
The vast environmental concern with this project stems from Blue Castle's rights over the Green River region, a region pictured in Fig. 1 that the Colorado River Indian Tribe holds seniority rights over. Green River holds a large amount of already endangered species that may be adversely affected by the plant, as worry over how Blue Castle may affect the water flow and purity levels draws concern over the prospect for multiple species. Currently, the projected plan for the plant requires a continuous 70 cubic-feet-per-second flow, a flow that is expected to counteract the required 1300 cubic-feet-per-second rate in the natural environment.  However, proponents of the project assert that the nearby Flaming Gorge Dam will help to ensure adequate flow streams to the Green River despite the Blue Castle project, and that the maintenance restrictions imposed by the NRC on Blue Castle should mitigate any concern over environmental impact.
Although there are multiple, legitimate concerns over the Blue Castle Project and its environmental impact on the local region, the necessity of its power to maintain electrical output for the state of Utah has pushed its approval. With its projected completion within the next decade, maintenance and enforcement of the restrictions is the only way to help mitigate the environmental impact it may have. Further, an openness within regulators and the state government to adjust the requirements imposed on Blue Castle may help to alleviate the prevailing damage that is likely to occur, as an increase in oversight will only help to maintain local purity and wildlife.
© Aron Tesfai. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
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