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Oklahoma Memories

Black Fox is Dead

2010-03-15

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"I will be surprised if the Public Service Company and their co-owners do not decide to cancel this project. That's my personal opinion."

That's the voice of a spokesman for Public Service Company of Oklahoma, the Tulsa-based electric utility that proposed building a nuclear power plant in Oklahoma.

From the Oklahoma History Center, this is Oklahoma Memories. I'm Michael Dean.

In May 1973, the Tulsa-based electric utility proposed building Oklahoma's first nuclear power plant. It was to be built near Inola, just east of Tulsa. They proposed using two General Electric boiling-water reactors. The first part of construction was approved, land was cleared, and the foundation for the plant was poured. At the same time, Carrie Dickerson organized the group Citizens Action for Safe Energy, and they began leading protests against the plant. The protests lead to nine years of hearings being held on the project. Finally in 1982, Public Service Company went before the Corporation Commission to cancel the project. A company spokesman at the time told reporters…

"I'm not too anxious to speculate about what Public Service Company might do. Public Service Company has two co-owners, as I mentioned earlier, that have an interest in this project, and they have an investment that they need to protect in addition to Public Service Company's investment. I will be surprised if the Public Service Company and their co-owners do not decide to cancel this project. That's my personal opinion."

At the same time that Carrie Dickerson organized her group, another group, the Sunbelt Alliance, joined her protests. A spokesman for that group told Oklahoma's News Channel Four of the group's reaction to the decision to cancel Black Fox.

"Sunbelt Alliance is obviously really happy that Public Service of Oklahoma has said that indeed Black Fox is going to collapse of its own economic weight. That's about what we've been saying all along, is it's going to collapse of its own economic weight. However, we knew, we're folks – look around, you see carpenters, you see pipefitters, you see plumbers, you see teachers, you even see some future lawyers – all we wanted to do was to do was to be carpenters and teachers and childcare workers and social workers. That's all we wanted to do. Our major goal, our major purpose, was to be able to go back home. Tonight we've accomplished our major goal and our major purpose. Black Fox is stopped. It's collapsed of its own economic weight, and we're done. The Sunbelt Alliance as of this moment is over."

According to the group SANE, the Black Fox plant was the only nuclear power plant in the United States to be canceled by a combination of legal and citizen action after construction had begun. The project began in 1973 and continued until its cancellation nine years later. After the protest, Dickerson founded the Carrie Dickerson Foundation, a nonprofit group designed to educate people about all aspects of nuclear energy. She died in 2006.

You can learn more about the Black Fox Project through the newspaper archives in the research library at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City on NE 23rd Street, just east of the state capitol. Oklahoma Memories is a production of the Oklahoma History Center, dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing our state's past. From the Oklahoma History Center, I'm Michael Dean.