A lot has been said about the efforts by AmerenUE – the state’s largest utility – to convince the General Assembly to allow the company to charge ratepayers during construction of a second nuclear power plant in Callaway County. But all that will mean nothing unless the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gives its approval to Ameren to move forward.

The NRC held a pair of public environmental review hearings on Wednesday at Westminster College in Fulton, giving a chance to both supporters and opponents of what is known as Callaway 2 the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

Among those opposing the second Callaway County plant is Doctor Rea Beck, who raises concerns about radiation contamination.

"There is radiation going out every day in those smokestacks that you see," said Beck. "There is radiation going into the Missouri River water."

Concerns were also raised about what to do with nuclear waste from the facility.

Supporters included Pamela Murray, who believes Ameren is a safety conscious company with a good track record.

"I have been to Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings," said Murray. "Where they have presented annual findings regarding safety at Callaway 1 and come away with the feeling that everything is going well there, that the plant is well run, that when minor problems are found they are immediately corrected."

The NRC will spend the next year incorporating some of the comments heard into an environmental impact statement, with another public meeting to be held once that statement is prepared.

Download/Listen: Steve Walsh report (:60 MP3)