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The Brunswick beacon. (Shallotte, N.C.) 19??-current, April 07, 1994, Page PAGE 3-A, Image 3

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RAIL TRANSPORT SAID SAFER Traffic Big Concern As Sunny Point Eyed To Receive Spent Nuclear Fuel 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 abroad. '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 go 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 temporary storage. 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 cationers coming." "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 ments. "You're actually hearing us say we don't want it here," Suzanne Osborne reiterated. 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," said Huizenga. "Tell them if they're going to come in here we'd be more comfort able if it came in by rail," said Vereen. If desired, said Judy Holm, who is handling transportation arrange Local Schools Collect Money For Leukemia 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 and computers. AT SEASIDE BRING HOME THEftBEACON On Sale At BIG NELL S PIT STOP FOOD LION FOOD MART SOUTH BRUNSWICK POST OFFICE ? Visit our seafood restaurants, but leave that other stuff where it is. " ?A1 Leisey ments, special training could be pro vided to local emergency personnel. Longshoremen's representative 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 right now." This is the first time DOE has considered using a military port or rail transport when arranging spent fuel shipments, mainly because it is costlier. 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 it. 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 non-proliferation. 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 ments. "They feel their backs are against Coming Soon... THE HAM CO. RESTAURANT / DELI Shallottc Plaza 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. Security Systems Free Estimates Call John Schwab (910)754-5333 (803)399-9999 Licorised in North ? South Ca'0'"=> Professional Sound & Security ?Burglar Alarms ?Fire Alarms ?Medical Alert ?Sound & Intercom PELEN, inc. 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