In Alabama, A $5 Billion Nuclear Plant Is Up For Sale

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Two cooling towers can be seen in the reflection of a pond outside of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, in Hollywood, Ala. The Tennessee Valley Authority has set a minimum bid of $36.4 million for its unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant and the 1,600 surrounding acres of waterfront property on the Tennessee River. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
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The Bellefonte Nuclear Facility in northern Alabama is up for auction by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which spent $5 billion on its development.

The facility, however, has never produced a single watt of nuclear power, as it fell victim to lower demand and increased energy efficiency.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with plant manager Jim Chardos, who’s worked at the facility since 1994.

Interview Highlights: Jim Chardos

On finding a new owner and a new use for the facility

“It’s money already spent. So they’ve got an asset here that maybe somebody else can use. And if they don’t need it in traditional use, which was a nuclear power plant making electricity … in essence the board of directors has decided to put up an auction and see if, in fact, someone will buy the property, and bring jobs and economic opportunity to Jackson County and to northeast Alabama.”

On the importance of the facility in the community

“Recently in 2011, we had 600 [to] 800 people on site but once it became clear that we didn’t need electricity, the number of people that you need to maintain it is 45 or so. I’ve been here 22 years and I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. But in the end, it’s a family thing and especially for the people who live in this area. Forty-five people but 40 of them must work within 10, 15, 20 miles of the plant. So to them, this is employment. This is the job. So finding something for 1,400 acres and a partially completed nuclear power plant to help out northeast Alabama is a plus.”

On the goal of the auction

“If in fact, no one bids to complete it as a nuclear power plant, and [provides] other alternatives, in the end, to be honest with you, it comes down to employment and opportunity for investment in the general area.

“Just something to make activity for jobs and investment and community. We want to make sure that we can do something — bring jobs to a couple of hundred people, or 400 people, and kind of a long term thing. That’s really what would be best for everybody here.”

On the facility’s significance 

“It’s kind of like a second home. You want to maintain your house at home home, and this one is the same way with the same kind of tear, only in this care here, I’ve got 45 people to help me maintain it. It’s two homes.”

Guest

Jim Chardos, senior manager of the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Hollywood, Alabama. The Tennessee Valley Authority tweets @TVANews.

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