No nuclear plant headed to Muscatine County

Many in Muscatine County, Iowa, are breathing a sigh of relief after MidAmerican Energy announced Tuesday that no nuclear plant is headed to Iowa anytime soon.

On their farm outside Wilton, the announcement is good news for the Glenneys. Just a mile-and-a-half down the road, MidAmerican spent the fall soil testing, studying the site as a location for a potential power plant.

“We’re relieved. We’re looking forward to the rest of the summer, because now, this won’t be on our mind, and we’re looking forward to enjoying summer,” said Dwight Glenney.

Concern over the testing became clear in March, when several hundred turned out for a public meeting with MidAmerican representatives. An opposition group called SAFE, or Saving America’s Farmground and Environment, was formed. Online, a petition against any sort of nuclear plant garnered more than 250 signatures.

“You don’t know until you try, and obviously, it worked out the way we wanted it to,” said Glenney, who organized SAFE.

Wednesday, MidAmerican announced the results of a three-year, nuclear feasibility study. The company decided that although there are viable Iowa sites for a nuclear plant, any immediate steps to pursue site work would be “premature.” Two rural residences that MidAmerican owns in Muscatine County will be put up for sale later this year, and the company will not pursue an extension on its land options.

“I think it’ll be closer to the end of this decade before we decide what to build,” said Dean Crist, MidAmerican’s vice president of regulation, citing the uncertainty of future environmental regulations.

The news, though, also means saying goodbye to more than 350 potential jobs, making the announcement bittersweet for some residents.

“If it brings jobs, you know, that’s what we need,” said Pat McClaskey.

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