NEW HILL — TheU.S. Department of Energywants to ship high-level radioactive nuclear waste across the country -- on a path that would take it through the Triangle. The proposal has some activists deeply concerned.
The Energy Department's long-term plan is to truck high-level nuclear waste from North Carolina's three nuclear power plants to Nevada. The trucks would use Interstate 40, and could start hauling the waste within the next 10 years.
By some estimates, it takes 500,000 years before the waste is safe. Moving it to a storage site means putting the waste into containers and trucking it down the highway.
"This material is like an X-ray machine in the 'on' position traveling down the road," said Mary Olson, an activist with the non-profitNuclear Information and Resource Service..
CP&L'sHarris Nuclear Plant in Wake County stores its nuclear waste on site, and it accepts waste from two other plants. For 13 years, that imported waste has traveled by train without incident.
"We've done over 300 shipments, and we've never had any accidents, anyone ever to pick up any radiation. There are tremendous safety features built into the process," said CP&L's Steve Edwards.
Most nuclear power plants store their waste on site, but many of those storage pools are filling up. That is why the government is considering one big dumping site in Nevada that would not open for another ten years.