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RAIL TRANSPORT SAID SAFER
As Sunny Point
BY SliSAN USHER
It was no surprise to U.S. Depart
ment of Energy officials last week
when a group of Brunswick County
residents, town and county officials
said they don't want Sunny Point to
receive spent nuclear fuel from
'Visit our seafood restaurants,"
invited Calabash Commissioner Al
Leisey, "i)ut |cave that other stuff
where it is."
That s the same answer the
agency has received at every turn.
Everyone says they understand the
importance of doing this, but says
'not in my back yard,'" said Dave
Huizenga, the DOE engineer in
charge of the spent fuel program.
People have been telling us why
don t you find a low-density port
close to the Savannah River site
with the capability to receive it and
bring it there. That's why we went to
Sunny Point. That's the direction en
vironmental groups are telling us to
Spent fuel is used fuel that can no
longer produce energy effectively
and must be replaced with fresh fu
el. The DOE proposes transporting
the fuel elements to its Savannah
River nuclear site in Aiken, S.C., for
Sunny Point is the largest ammu
nition depot in the free" world. Its
port facilities on the Cape Fear
River are isolated, surrounded by a
large butfer area, with rail service
and road access. DOE says fuel
shipments could be timed to avoid
contact with ammunition movement,
a major concern noted by 7th
District Congressman Charlie Rose.
Rose is opposing importation of
radioactive materials through
Wilmington or Sunny Point, saying
they cannot "safely and adequately
handle such volatile material."
Huizenga said the fuel being
shipped is the uranium isotope U
235, the type fuel used by the
Brunswick Nuclear Pl;int "It's the
same amount of badness."
Commissioner Wayland Vcreen
was concerned about shipments
coming through Brunswick County
during tourist season, when local
roadways are clogged.
"It's up to the shippers." replied
Huizenga. "They have to get fuel
out soon or shut down. You have va
"Traffic is the biggest concern
you're going to have. It's the per
ception you're dealing with," ad
vised Mark Stewart, mayor of
Boiling Spring Lakes, the town clos
est to Sunny Point. "The risk is
much less by rail."
Carolina Power & Light Co. peri
odically ships spent fuel from its
Brunswick Nuclear Plant on the
U.S. Army's rail line (which origi
nates at Sunny Point) through Boil
ing Spring Lakes.
Several other Boiling Spring
Lakes residents agreed they would
worry less about the possibility of an
accident if the fuel were transported
by rail rather than truck but they
would rather not worry at all.
"I'm hearing rail and guarded,"
said Huizenga, summarizing com
"You're actually hearing us say
we don't want it here," Suzanne
Does DOE plan to inspect the
shipments for damage or leaks be
fore off-loading?" asked Stewart.
"If that's what it's going to take to
make people more comfortable,"
"Tell them if they're going to
come in here we'd be more comfort
able if it came in by rail," said
If desired, said Judy Holm, who is
handling transportation arrange
Shailoitc Middle School and
South Brunswick High School were
among 93 North Carolina schools
participating in the "Pasta for Pen
nies" and "Pennies for Patients" pro
gram for the leukemia Society.
The program raised more than
$31,000 in its first year. The local
students raised money for area
leukemia patients while competing
for prizes such as school supplies
On Sale At
BIG NELL S PIT STOP
SOUTH BRUNSWICK POST OFFICE
Visit our seafood
leave that other
stuff where it is. "
ments, special training could be pro
vided to local emergency personnel.
Willie Sloan told the DOE represen
tatives that union locals arc qualified
and willing to unload the fuel.
"We're not telling you to bring it
here," said Sloan, "but if you bring
it here we can handle it. We do have
the training and we're handling it
This is the first time DOE has
considered using a military port or
rail transport when arranging spent
fuel shipments, mainly because it is
Those earlier shipments occurred
before DOE was forced to discuss
its plans with the public. Spent fuel
went through the state port in
Wilmington between 1984 and
1986, DOE officials said, and local
officials apparently knew nothing of
In 1988 the Sierra Club sued
DOE regarding plans to accept spent
fuel from Taiwan through a port in
Virgina. Instead of settling the legal
issue, the government stopped the
shipments and let the return program
lapse, said Ed Fci, a DOE official
whose concern is nuclear weapon
Huizenga said this administration
is attempting to restore the spent fu
el return program, part of an interna
tional effort to take bomb-quality
uranium out of circulation. Under its
terms, the United States agreed to
take back spent furls of highly-en
riched uranium it had leased or sold
to foreign research reactors in ex
change for those reactors agreeing to
switch to a less efficient fuel with a
much lower percentage of uranium.
The reactors are running out of
storage. Some face shut down by
government regulators if they cannot
dispose of spent fuel. Others arc
considering reprocessing fuel and
possibly switching back to highly
enriched fuel purchased from
sources such as Russia and China.
While an environmental impact
statement is prepared on the expect
ed return of 15,000 elements over a
period of 15 to 20 years. DOE wants
to provide short-term "urgent relief'
to operators by taking these 448 ele
"They feel their backs are against
RESTAURANT / DELI
Main St., Shallottc
ihc wall." I lui/enga said. "We're
asking people to understand the im
portance of bringing these back."
The United States isn't consider
ing reprocessing as an alternative to
storage since this country has
stopped reprocessing uranium fuels
and is encouraging other countries
to do so. said Fei.
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