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US Senate candidate wants nuclear plant in North Dakota

FARGO -- A Bismarck man seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate said North Dakota should build a nuclear power plant.

Duane Sand, a commander in the U.S. Navy reserve who has served on three nuclear submarines, said Tuesday that the Red River Valley would be an ideal site to help fulfill a nationwide mandate to build at least 20 nuclear plants in 20 years.

The most important factor, he said, is that the ground is stable with no fault lines. He displayed a map that showed seismic activity around the country.

"This is incredibly feasible," Sand said. "These companies know they have to build. They're sitting on trillions of dollars of cash. They're looking for places that are favorable and economical. North Dakota is one of those places."

The plant would cost $15 billion to build and employ 3,000 people, Sand said.

Sand said the Red River would provide the necessary water source and the state already is connected on a power grid with a nuclear plant in Monticello, Minn., which provides 30 percent of the Fargo's power.

"Let's start creating our own power and start shipping it east," he said.

Sand said he served as an inspector for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Illinois for about a year and a half, until last January. He said he inspected 15 plants in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

"It was a very great eye-opening experience, as you might imagine," he said.

Alee Lockman, spokeswoman for North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg, who's also seeking the Republican Senate nomination, had no comment on Sand's idea for a nuclear plant.

"Rick's been working hard over the past year to pass legislation that would encourage domestic energy production," Lockman said in a statement. "He's been fighting for a long-term national energy plan, much like what we have in North Dakota, which would adopt an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy production."

The power plant idea was part of what Sand calls his seven-point American energy policy. It included increasing off-shore oil drilling permits and refinery capacity, approving two new transcontinental pipelines, and making the Environmental Protection Agency a branch of the Department of Energy.

"This EPA and this president has gone rogue," Sand said.

Sand, who has previously run unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. House and Senate, said he won't rule out running for office if he doesn't win the Republican nomination.

"I'm not shutting the door on any options," he said.