Local News

Apex Ostrich Farmer Sounds Alarm Over Shearon Harris Test

Posted January 22, 2004

— An Apex woman is asking Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant for a break. She wants the plant to silence a scheduled siren test for the sake of her birds.

The Blue Heaven ostrich ranch has become a thriving business for Madeleine Calder.

"I mean they're just fascinating, fabulous, wonderful animals," Calder said.

Calder raises ostriches and sells ostrich meat and products all over the country.

Billowing just beyond her ranch is the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant.

One of the plant's test sirens skirts the ostrich ranch. Next month, Shearon Harris plans to sound the alarm.

"I mean, you just can't imagine how loud it is," Calder said. "They can't get away [so] they'll start to frenzy. They can either have a heart attack or try and climb the fence and get tangled up and all bloody and everything. I mean if that happens, it'll be horrible."

Calder opened her ranch without realizing the power plant was within a 10-mile radius.

For years, the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant said it has gone out of its way to disable the volume mechanism on its siren as a favor to Calder and her ostriches.

Now, according to the plant, people in the area have asked that the siren be triggered so they can hear what it sounds like in the event of an emergency.

"What we want to do is make sure that we provide people with that sense of security," company spokeswoman Heidi Deja said. "We certainly haven't found any evidence that a siren, or even a fire truck, for that matter, which is very loud, would cause distress of these animals."

Calder said just one of the 14 birds on her ranch is worth at least $25,000, making the siren alarming, indeed.

"Why are they willing to write me and my birds off?" she said.

If something happens to the birds when the alarm sounds next month, Calder said she will hold the power plant liable.

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