- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bob Richards doesn’t mind taking a dip outside his lakefront home in central Virginia, even when the water temperature hits 98 degrees.

“It’s like swimming in a hot tub,” said Col. Richards, 65.

But the retired Air Force colonel is worried his swims in Lake Anna could turn scalding if Dominion Resources, which owns and operates a nuclear-power plant at the lake, receives permission to install a third water-cooled nuclear reactor at the plant.

Officials say the temperature where water exits the plant could reach 113 degrees if the plan is approved by state and federal agencies.

“Am I concerned that it’s going to get hotter and take that privilege away from me?” Col. Richards asked. “Most definitely.”

Lake Anna, about 90 minutes southwest of the District, covers roughly 13,000 acres, making it the third-largest lake in Virginia.

The lake is divided into two parts: a 3,400-acre “warm side” where Col. Richards lives and which provides water for the power plant’s cooling requirements. The 9,600-acre “cold side” is used to disperse the warmer water from the cooling process.

The plant has two reactors, and Dominion is considering adding two more — one that would be cooled by lake water and one that would be air-cooled. The company has applied for an Early Site Permit with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the reactors.

If the permits are approved, the company has a 20-year option to explore the site for building and to seek other approvals necessary for construction.

“I think our customers would think we were negligent if we did not plan for the future,” said Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is in the process of ensuring the permit is consistent with the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act. Dominion has asked the department to wait until Nov. 7 to release a final report.

Tom Faha, a water-permit manager for the department, said Dominion will have to take measures to assure public safety if the permit is issued.

“No matter what anybody wants to do, so long as they treat it properly, they can proceed,” he said.

However, the proposal has united Col. Richards and Lake Anna residents, who are concerned that an increase in temperature where water exits the power plant could lead to such problems as property damage, an increased drought cycle and an insufficient water supply.

A group called Lake Anna Friends has gathered the support of nearly 2,000 area residents who say they would not oppose the third reactor if it was air-cooled.

“We’re not anti-nuclear,” said Harry Ruth, who spearheaded the group’s formation.

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